“Cross my sparks and hope to die,” says Mirage (Pete Davidson), the sleek Porsche autobot, and one cannot help but smile. Everything about this seventh movie in the Transformers universe — a sequel to 2018’s Bumblebee and a prequel to 2007’s Transformers — is pleasing to the eye, ears, and heart. After the prologue which introduces us to the beast-robots, the Maximals, the planet-eating Unicron (Colman Domingo) and his minions, the Terrorcons, led by Scourge (Peter Dinklage), and the Transwarp Key, which opens portals in space and time, we come to 1994 Brooklyn. Seeing the Twin Towers was sobering moment.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (English)
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
Cast: Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback
Voice cast: Ron Perlman, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Yeoh, Liza Koshy, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Pete Davidson, Colman Domingo, Cristo Fernández, Tongayi Chirisa
Runtime: 127 minutes
Storyline: Autobots, Maximals, Terrorcons and humans look for the Transwarp Key for their own reasons
Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) is a former soldier and electronics expert who is trying to make ends meet, which is particularly tough as his younger brother Kris (Dean Scott Vazquez) has sickle cell disease and the family is three months behind in paying the medical bills. Noah’s friend Reek (Tobe Nwigwe) suggests stealing cars as a way to make some quick money.
On the other side of town is Elena (Dominique Fishback), working at the museum with an evil boss who takes credit for all her work. Elena notices strange markings on a hawk-shaped statue and as she is researching it, it breaks open to reveal one-half of the Transwarp Key. The minute the key is revealed, it sends out a powerful signal calling good, bad, and ugly robots from all corners of the galaxy.
Autobot leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) wants to use the key to return home to Cybertron. He summons the other autobots including Bumblebee and Mirage, who is in the middle of being stolen by Noah, and so the former vet is co-opted into the Autobots’ mission. When Noah realises the earth is in danger from the ravenous Unicron, he decides to seek and destroy the Transwarp Key.
Elena, in the true tradition of all movie academics, can crack millennia-old codes instantly and figures out the next stop is Machu Picchu, Cuzco. It is rather unsettling to see all sorts of mechanical beasties slugging it out on the terraces of the ancient Inca site and towering mountains of flame on the venerable peaks. One almost expected TinTin and the little orange seller, Zorrino, to traipse across and Captain Haddock to have angry words with the recalcitrant llama.
While not going all-out Michael Bay, who directed the first five noisy installments of the franchise, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a charming addition to the canon. The leads are as easy on the eye as the voice work was on the ears — from Ron Perlman as the gorilla-shaped leader of the Maximals, Optimus Primal, to Michelle Yeoh who continues to give wisdom in cryptic clues and pronouncements as the falcon, Airazor. The music, including Reek’s special mix to relax to while jacking cars, is pretty cool too.
Time spent at a movie that makes you smile, has people, machines and twinkly-eyed robots flying in the face of danger, a jolly adventure, and some pretty creative CGI and car chases can be considered well spent.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is currently running in theatres