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Transformers: Rise of the Beasts stakes an easy claim as the second best entry in the long-running franchise but that is faint praise as the film still feels like an overstuffed, muddled bore.

With 2018's Bumblebee director Travis Knight did something I didn't think possilble: he made me actually care for a Transformers movie. But the movie didn't do as well as hoped at the box office, so we're now punished with Rise of the Beasts, a movie that hews a lot closer to the Michael Bay films in the series.

That unfortunately means another picture that prefers elaborate mythology over character development and seems more interested in selling toys than in telling a story. How else to explain the appearance of the so-called Manimals, Transformers who for whom it makes even less sense that they look like gorillas, birds and rhinos than their car-shaped brethren do?

Truth be told: the elaborate action sequences new director Steven Caple Jr. puts on the big screen are a lot less chaotic than the ones in the Michael Bay eysores, but they are still mostly superfluous and never find the right flow.

The fans of the series won't really mind, I guess, since it's still robots beating up robots, but I got kinda frustrated that the human element is pushed to the background even more than in the Shia LaBoeuf - Megan Fox era, to say nothing of the phoned-in, hilariously solemn performances by both the star-studded voice talent and an utterly wasted real-life cast of up-and-comers.

Don't agree with my assessment? Perhaps stick around for the mid-credits reveal then, because that corporate cash-grab attempt at a mor expansive cinematic (toy) universe alone should tell you everything you need to know about where Rise of the Beasts real aspirations lie.

release: 2023

director: Steven Caple Jr.

starring: Anothony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Peter Cullen, Michelle Yeoh, Ron Perlman


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