Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Review

Certain aspects of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts are a marvel, but it’s no Marvel.

by Rob Sperduto
Image: Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Hasbro

Paramount’s latest attempt to recharge the robots in disguise serves all the highs and lows one would expect from the seventh installment, or more technically, the second act of a rebooted prequel. Oh, how far we’ve come. Phoning in perhaps the best entry since Transformers (2007), director Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II) does his absolute damnedest to deliver an executive’s bulleted list of impossible demands: To introduce a new brand of Transformers to the big screen, the Maximals, and to, you’d never guess, pave the way for a Transformers universe. It’s shameless, really, to even pretend that Transformer: Rise of the Beasts stands a chance at reigniting a new era of Autobots after so many subpar entries, but why not give it the ol’ Dark Universe try? Even so, this two-hour ride’s hard to hate.

Autobots, Assemble!

Loosely following the events of Bumblebee (2018), Rise of the Beasts clunks forward to New York City in the ‘90s tuned to the era-defining sounds of the Wu-Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest. This time, Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos, In the Heights), a down-on-his-luck ex-militant, entangles himself in the Autobots’ latest homeward-bound mission to Cybertron; the journey whisks Diaz and supporting lead Elena (Dominique Fishback, Judas and the Black Messiah) from the streets of Bushwick to Peru in order to thwart a planet-eater from ever feeding again. The ‘90s backdrop is a strong aesthetic, and to its credit, the Transformers series always succeeds at choosing a decade-appropriate soundtrack. 

Related: Best Transformers Movies Watch Order (Chronological and Release)

Beasts, however, pulls too much from the era, borrowing tired character tropes like the can’t-catch-a-break protagonist with a sick younger brother and the underappreciated intern who’s way more adept than her boss. It works for and against the film — these paper-thin templates allow for a much tighter two-hour runtime, but you’ll never really care about Noah or Elena, begging the question, for a seventh time: When will the Transformers just axe the humans and focus on the heroes we care about? If Planet of the Apes presented a modern trilogy built on universal emotion, there’s no reason we couldn’t inject these qualities directly into the Autobots as exhausted, displaced warriors. The audience bought the concept decades ago. (Pete Davidson’s Mirage is the true scene-stealer, carrying 95% of the humor on his back. If you’re not down with Davidson’s brand, definitely steer away from Beasts, but he’s one of my favorite comedians working today. Dude’s hilarious.)

Pete Davidson as Mirage. Image: Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Hasbro

It’s no surprise that Caple Jr. flexes hardest on the action as if he’s been handling these characters since day one, and with each battle, the setpieces grow bigger, the special effects more impressive, and the choreography more explosive. Some of the most crowd-pleasing moments across the franchise appear in Beasts, proving that a great director just needs a great script to match. It all culminates in an Endgame-lite battle that, while barefaced, still compels a hip crowd to go wild. Sure, Beasts lacks all sense of emotional baggage, but that’s a flailing series issue, not a directing problem. 


In so many ways Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a hot mess, but it’s the biggest step toward the Transformers movie I’ve always wanted to see. Take this from a casual fan: Rise of the Beasts won’t appeal to diehard fans, nor will it demand more entries (enough is enough); the plot won’t make sense to anyone without a working knowledge of Beast Wars, and a complete reboot is long overdue, but this movie is best seen on a summer day, all asses in seats. 

- This article was updated on September 7th, 2023

About The Author

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As the Managing Editor of Attack of the Fanboy, Rob Sperduto began his career in games media as Pro Game Guides's resident Roblox expert in 2020. Under his leadership, PGG grew by 2 million monthly active users. Since then, he has served as an editor, writer, and critic for nearly three years. However, Rob's professional expertise dates back to Coastal Carolina University, where he received a B.A. in English and a Master's in Writing. Rob's a major film geek, whose favorite directors are Tarantino, Edgar Wright, and De Palma. He'll take it to the grave that Saints Row 2 is better than GTA IV, and he's proud to have beaten Borderlands 2 on a Vita.


Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

  • Score: 2.5 / 5
  • Available On:
  • Published By:
  • Developed By:
  • Genre: Science Fiction Action, Mecha
  • US Release Date: June 9, 2023
  • Reviewed On: The Big Screen
  • Quote: "In so many ways Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a hot mess, but it’s the biggest step toward the Transformers movie I’ve always wanted to see."
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