Plot: What’s it about?
With 2018’s Bumblebee aiming to restart the Transformers series after Michael Bay had his try at five films, it was met with a strong reaction. I still find bee to be the best of the series even if the earlier films had things I preferred (notably the cast, which included Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox), I still liked the smaller scale of it. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts continues that trend even if the feature is more uneven and has a bit of pacing issues. It’s continuing the small step in the right direction for this series. It isn’t a gamechanger by any stretch but rather a small success.
While Bumblebee was an 80’s style throwback picture, this film brings us to 1994. We meet Noah (Anthony Ramos) who has a military background but is banking on a job interview to help him and his mother and brother make ends meet. His brother has cancer, and we see early on how much Noah cares for him, acting as not just his big brother, but his protector in many ways. When he doesn’t land the job, Noah turns to robbing a car. He breaks into one, but as it turns out, it is an autoboot, Mirage (voiced by Pete Davidson). Optimus Prime is working with him as he sees a signal in the sky which presents a need for help. The plot can be a bit much, but the ultimate goal is for the transformers to protect a key which would open portals to the universe that would allow Unicorn (voiced by Colman Domingo) to destroy as much as the world as he can.
The film opens with a huge action sequence and ends with one as well as throwing enough at us in the middle portion as well. There’s some excitement, of course, but I found the human stories here to be the most interesting. I did appreciate that the action wasn’t as frantic as Bay’s directing style, but I did find myself checking my watch on a few occasions. Still, this film has enough heart and moves along quickly enough to keep us with it. It doesn’t set the bar high, but it keeps it elevated above earlier entries. I preferred Bumblebee, but this was solid enough.
Video: How’s it look?
Anyone who’s seen any of the Transformers films will know what to expect visually. Paramount’s 4K HEVC image is, simply, flawless. The amount of detail in some of the shots is off the charts and with these “transforming” robots, it really does add a sense of depth and dimension to the film. As much as I always prefer the 4K, I honestly don’t know if it’s necessary here. The movie is a CGI bonanza and while color depth is pretty impressive, with rich, deep blacks I’d have been just as easily entertained with the Blu-ray. Any fan of the previous films will know what to expect and this certainly delivers visually.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Again, I have to reference the previous films when it comes to the technical specs. Included on this disc is a Dolby Atmos soundtrack that knocks it out of the park. Vocals are sharp and crisp, surround effects encompass the viewer in action from the opening credits to the closing. It’s amazing. It sounds amazing! Dynamic range is off the charts. Every speaker you have will get a workout and the atmospheric soundstage will permeate the room with it’s uncompressed goodness. Sit back, relax and turn this one up to 11. It’ll be worth it.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Human Affairs – In a world of robots, machines, and aliens, we explore the humans who help save the world.
- Life in the 90’s – The filmmakers discuss how the music, set design, fashion, and cultural references transport viewers to New York in the 90s.
- Heroes – Get an inside look at the inspiration and thought process behind designing the Autobots and the Maximals.
- Villains – Watch as the filmmakers bring the Terrorcons and Predacons to life.
- The Chase – Meet Mirage, a new Autobot that converts into a 1993 Porsche, and experience the adrenaline-filled car chase through New York City.
- The Battle of Ellis Island – Join the cast and crew as they go behind-the-scenes of the epic battle sequence at the museum.
- Into the Jungle – The franchise has been filmed all over the globe. This time, join the cast and crew as they explore the new and exotic location of Peru.
- The Switchback Attack – Witness the wild, intense driving sequences filmed on location in Peru where the Autobots fight the Terrorcons through a town square and into the mountains 15,000 feet up.
- The Final Conflict – Get a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s epic climax.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Alternate Opening
- This Can’t Be Real
- Noah Comes Home
- The Maximal Creed
- The Cave/Switchback
- Are you Ready?
- Alternate Ending
The Bottom Line
I will admit that I am a tad torn here. I enjoyed this film overall, but I don’t feel it reaches the heights of its immediate predecessor. It’s as if it doesn’t improve on the previous film, but rather it keeps things on a steady line. I liked the human side of things much more than the action. If you’re a fan of the Transformers (or the 90’s) then this one is for you. It delivers everything we’d expect from a Transformers movie. The 4K presentation along with the Atmos soundtrack certainly packs a home theater punch.