‘Transformers: Rise of the Beasts’ programmed to follow the loud, clunky formula

Haven’t we seen enough CGI machines waging war?

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Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen) hopes to use the elusive Transwarp Key for good in “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.”

Paramount Pictures

Finally, a sci-fi action mega-movie in which humans and various aliens compete to gain possession of an ancient and magical device that gives one control over the entire universe. If it falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the end of … everything.

Finally, a sci-fi action mega-movie featuring a couple of unlikely human underdogs who are practically invisible in their everyday lives and can’t catch a break but suddenly are tasked with trying to save the world against impossible odds.

Finally, a sci-fi action mega-movie filled with CGI battles in which barely distinguishable foes hurl each other about while delivering unspeakably corny lines, as we hear hip-hop hits on the soundtrack.

‘Transformers: Rise of the Beasts’


Paramount Pictures presents a film directed by Steven Caple Jr. and written by Joby Harold, Darnell Metayer, Josh Peters, Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber. Running time: 127 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language). Opens Thursday at local theaters.

Finally, a sci-fi action mega-movie with Important Messages about taking care of your own and learning to trust those who are nothing like you.

Finally, FINALLY, a sci-fi action mega-movie that ends with a tantalizing scene promising some crossover franchise action!

How tiresome. How exhausting. How disposable. “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” is the very definition of a loud, clunky, intermittently amusing but utterly familiar summer action movie that will start to fade from your consciousness before you leave the multiplex. It makes “Fast X” look like “The French Connection.” Here is a movie that embraces so many clichés and goes through the paces with such familiarity that it has to be deliberate. The filmmakers had to know this was slick, loud, largely computer-generated junkyard fare.

We are 16 years and seven films deep into the bombastic, silly, occasionally clever and moderately entertaining but worn-out “Transformers” film franchise and we are long past the wow factor of seeing cars and trucks and motorcycles doing that clickety-clackety-clonkety thing where they turn themselves inside out and transform into robots, and yet here we are with this chapter, which is sequel to “Bumblebee” and a prequel to the Michael Bay “Transformers” universe of the 2000s and 2010s.

We start with the obligatory prologue involving an enormous evil entity known as Unicron (voiced by Colman Domingo) who literally eats planets and will stop at nothing to gain possession of the Transwarp Key, a device that allows its possessor to open wormholes and travel through time and space and pretty much control the universe. (You will hear the phrase “Transwarp Key” about a dozen times in “Rise of the Beasts.” IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TRANSWARP KEY, MAN!)

Flash forward to 1994 Brooklyn, where the eager and ambitious but rebellious Army veteran Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) is desperately trying to find legit work so he can help pay the substantial medical bills for his adorable and brave 11-year-old brother Kris (Dean Scott Vazquez), who has sickle-cell anemia. After Noah is turned down for a security guard job because he’s not a team player, he agrees to participate in a robbery of a vintage silver Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.8 — which Noah soon learns is actually an Autobot named Mirage and voiced by Pete Davidson, who sounds as he spent all of about six hours recording his “bro” lines for the part. Around this same time, a brilliant archaeologist in training named Elena (Dominique Fishback) has accidentally discovered the TRANSWARP KEY — well, half of it, anyway. Turns out the other half is in Peru, plus you need a special combination to make the TRANSWARP KEY work. It’s a whole thing.


Noah (Anthony Ramos) helps steal a car that turns out to be an Autobot named Mirage (voice of Pete Davidson).

Paramount Pictures

Everybody wants the — say it with me — TRANSWARP KEY. The legendary leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime (voiced by the great Peter Cullen), explains it’s the only way home for his, um, people. Then there’s Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman), a noble and gigantic silverback gorilla who is the leader of the Maximals, who have problems of their own, plus the ruthless killer Scourge (Peter Dinklage), leader of the Terrorcons, who apparently are under contract with Unicron and have orders to destroy everybody and bring Unicron the TRANSWARP KEY.

One of the hilarious aspects of “Rise of the Beasts” is how Peter Cullen, Colman Domingo, Ron Perlman, Peter Dinklage all sound like they’re all trying to out-Vader one another with their insanely deep, vibrating, mechanical-bass voices. It’s like the premise of an “SNL” skit: “My voice is lower than yours!” “Oh, I don’t think so, squeaky!” When the action shifts to Peru, the plot takes on such an “Indiana Jones” tone that one of the characters feels compelled to comment on it. Never fear, though, the old-school adventure soon gives way to yet another fast-cut, murky, CGI-fueled action sequence. The stakes couldn’t be lower, the excitement any less palpable. How many times have we already seen these too-long battle scenes in which computer-created machines and/or creatures bang into each other and tear each other apart while proclaiming it all ends today or some such thing?

There are more “Transformers” movies on the way, but “Rise of the Beasts” has one thinking we’d be better off if they were put out to pasture.

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