Unlike many of its predecessors, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is gettin g incredible reviews!
Even the biggest fans of the Transformers film franchise were mostly expecting Rise of the Beasts to be a disappointment. The earlier live-action films from Michael Bay turned this beloved story and characters into nothing more than high-energy shlock, and while the Bumblebee movie was a serious improvement, most fans assumed this upcoming film (which integrates beloved Beast Wars characters and even the franchise icon Unicron) would be as disappointing as films like Transformers: The Last Knight. But cover us in Energon and throw us to the Insecticons: according to Rotten Tomatoes, Rise of the Beasts is getting tons of surprisingly good reviews.
Some of our favorite reviews pointed out that Rise of the Beasts, while being a satisfying action film, still managed to take some creative risks and deliver some narrative surprises. For example, TheWrap’s Tomris Laffly points out that this new movie “rekindles something akin to Sam Raimi’s first two ‘Spider-man’ films.” Considering those movies are often held up by Marvel fans as peak cinema, this is high praise indeed.
Other reviews point out the fact that Rise of the Beasts has done something few Transformers films have done before: made their human characters seem interesting and compelling. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman says as much, noting that “It’s got a relatable human story that works” and that “thanks to a script that actually has sustained bursts of dialogue, the robots felt more real to me as characters than they usually do.” This is a far cry from earlier movies where the robots shared short, one-dimensional dialogue with zero-dimensional human characters as they shuffled from action set piece to action set piece.
Of course, those action set pieces aren’t just the glue of the series…they are also the big-budget adaptations of children pitting the heroic Autobots against the evil forces of the Decepticons in their bedrooms and living rooms throughout the years. Fortunately, it sounds like Rise of the Beasts still finds ways to tickle fans’ imaginations while delivering more complex characters. As Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck points out, “these Hasbro action figures, and their onscreen incarnations, are capable of reducing even the most mature, jaded adult into an awestruck child who just wants to get down on the floor and play with them.”
Another reason that many earlier films felt hollow is that they were, at best, nostalgia fests for old ‘80s toys that managed to sometimes excite older fans but left younger, modern audiences nothing to really get excited about. But according to Culture Mix’s Carla Hay, Rise of the Beasts has finally found the right balance that earlier films lacked. That’s because the new film is “a triumphant sci-fi action spectacle that is chock full of memorable characters and engaging storylines. It strikes the right balance between evoking nostalgia and creating excitement for new aspects to the Transformers franchise.”
Skeptical fans might point out that other movies tried to deliver on these fronts and failed, leading to the big question: what really sets Rise of the Beasts apart from what came before? Uproxx’s Mike Ryan has a simple potential answer to that question: “It’s kind of remarkable what can be done with a Transformers movie with a director who actually likes these characters.” Much like Star Trek: Picard finally delivered a killer season by bringing in ultimate fanboy Terry Matalas as showrunner, it looks like Rise of the Beasts really benefits from the intense passion of director Steven Caple Jr.
Ahead of its official release, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts has a 66 percent critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This is lower than the critically-beloved Bumblebee (which has a staggering 91 percent critical rating), but much higher than The Last Knight (16 percent) and Age of Extinction (18 percent). It’s even higher than the first Transformers live-action film which clocked in at 57 percent, so if anybody needs us, we’re going to be screaming “Maximals, MAXIMIZE” while pre-ordering our tickets.