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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jun 10, 2023



ONE OF THE MOST successful film franchises, with some of its movies earning more than $1 billion, “Transformers” is a toy-based sci-fi series that started in 2007 and had sequels in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2017, all directed by Michael Bay.

The 6th movie, “Bumblebee”, which was done with a lot of wit, was shown in 2018, directed by Travis Knight. 

And now, we have the 7th movie in the series, “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts”, directed by Steven Caple Jr. 

If you’re a loyal “Transformers” fan, the new movie is also a prequel set in 1994, seven years after “Bumblebee”, and so they chose hiphop songs from that period to be part of the musical soundtrack. 

The movie introduces us to Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos, a singer-actor best known for the Broadway hit, “Hamilton”, and the film version of the musical, “In the Heights”), a former soldier from Brooklyn who is now trying to find work to help his mother (Luna Lauren Velez) and his sick younger brother (Dean Vasquez) who needs hospital treatment but they lack the funds for it. 

To earn some money, he agrees to help a neighborhood thug, Reek (Tobe Nwigwe), to steal a car, which he doesn’t know is actually the transformer known as Mirage, a hilarious fancy silver Porsche car (with voice by Pete Davison.) 

We also meet Elena Wallace (Sarah Fishback from the acclaimed series “Swarm”), an archaeological researcher in a museum who is an expert in identifying artifacts, but her boss (Sarah Stiles), steals the credit for her work. An unusual sculpture of a bird is sent to them. 

It is believed to be Egyptian but  Elena surmises that it is of Mayan or Aztec origin. 

As she analyzes it, it opens up and reveals a glowing rod hidden inside.

This a key that can open a space-time portal and the villain, Unicron (Colman Domingo), wants to get it to help him obtain absolute power in destroying entire planets. 

Optimus Primal (voice by Ron Perlman) has previously taken the key with the help of a group animal-shaped Transformers known as Maximals. 

They then hide it to prevent Unicron from using it.

But Unicron has heard that it’s been located and he sends his ruthless henchman, Scourge (Peter Dinklage) and his Terrorcons to help get it back.

Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) then summons all his good Autobots, who are hiding on earth in the form of various motor vehicles, to help him.

One of the Autobots is the wise-cracking Mirage and he takes the befuddled Noah along for the ride. 

This becomes a wild car chase while cops are trying to pursue him.  The Autobots then have to fight the intruding Terrorcons. 

Optimus is put in grave danger but he is rescued by the winged Maximal, Airazor (voice by recent Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh.) 

Scourge gets the key but it turns out it has been divided and is only one half of the actual key. So Noah and Elena join the Autobots in finding out where is the remaining half of the key.

The search takes them to the jungles of Peru, where the other Maximals (the best for us is King Kong) appear to help them in fighting Scourge and the Terrorcons.

Many other action-filled. breath-taking showdowns follow. 

The best and most exciting encounter between the good guys and the villain is the climactic finale where Optimus Prime makes a sacrifice just to make sure the key will be destroyed. 

This means he and the Autobots can no longer back to their original planet, Cybertron.

 There are two short previews in the end credits and it seems they are planting the seeds to prepare for the next “Transformers” sequels or Hasbro films, like G.I. Joe. 

In fairness to Director Caple (who did “Creed II”), he helms the movie with competence and imagination as seen in the superb computer animation and spectacular special effects in the giant robot smashups.

He also injects refreshing humor and more energy into the franchise to make it a truly amusing family entertainment. 

The human characters try their best to help save the world and most of the time, they are looking upward to the gigantic bots. Noah is later even given powers of his own to help fight the Terrorcons.

Take note that the human leads here are interracial, a poor Latino who is trying to make ends meet for his family, and a black girl who is discriminated against because of her color.

It’s good they’re not linked romantically. But in the end, they both have a happy ending in their respective careers.