Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts

Certificate: 12A

Starring: Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Pete Davidson, Michelle Yeoh, Peter Dinklage, Colman Domingo

Release date: 2023

4 out of 5


After Michael Bay’s four bombastic sequels, most of us had abandoned hope for this franchise. And then Travis Knight’s prequel Bumblebee (2018) breathed new life into the premise by taking a refreshingly character-based approach. This follow-up is even better, with bigger action and a continuing focus on humans and alien robots who have lively personalities with deeper yearnings. And with its generous dose of humour, the cast and crew turn a ridiculous premise into involving fun.

Opening in 1994 New York, this story centres around Noah (Ramos), who is struggling to find work to help his family when he encounters a talking sports car named Mirage (voiced by Davidson). Soon he’s swept into an adventure alongside young museum researcher Elena (Fishback), who has stumbled upon a relic that alerts both Earth’s hidden Autobot heroes and the villainous Unicron (Domingo). He sends his henchman Scourge (Dinklage) to get the relic, which leads everyone to Peru. There Noah, Elena and the Autobots team up with the Maximals, robots who transform into enormous beasts, to take on Scourge.

Thankfully, director Steven Caple Jr (Creed II) keeps things moving briskly, deploying Fast & Furious-style chases and Indiana Jones-style archaeological adventures alongside the robot-based battles. The first-rate effects combine with terrific voice work to give the animated characters weighty physical presence along with big personalities. So there’s a proper sense of relationships between these disparate figures, which helps us cheer the good guys on.

With his good-natured preening and a steady string of spicy verbal gags, Davidson steals the show. There’s also a notably witty turn from Cristo Fernandez (Ted Lasso) as the Latino surfer bus Wheeljack. Dinklage generates nasty intensity as the relentless, ruthless Scourge, while Yeoh adds class and gravitas as the giant falcon Airazor. Meanwhile, Ramos and Fishback are likeable human leads, both funny and intrepid.

All of which makes it much easier to accept the goofy Transformer mythology and just hang on for a thrilling ride.

Is Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...

Rude (and hilarious) innuendo that will go over kids’ heads. And as expected, there’s plenty of metallic robot-on-robot violence, plus humans in jeopardy with genuinely high stakes. This peril can sometimes feel intense and scary, but it’s also clearly fantastical, and most of the darker plot turns end on positive notes.

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