First, kudos to the producers of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts for convincing award-winning actors Michelle Yeoh and Peter Dinklage to lend their voices to the robotic aliens Airazor and Scourge, respectively.

That said, let’s not patronize. Michael Bay has already done enough with the Transformers universe. Although he directed the first five live-action films in the franchise, he never did so with taste or respect. Saturated, garish and vulgar, his expensive but low-level blockbusters never attempted to understand what millions of young people of the 1980s and 1990s loved about toys and cartoons. Beyond the eternal fight between good guys and bad guys, there was a spirit of benevolence and an assumed screenplay simplicity that made us happy and reassured us.

Bumblebee, released in 2018, understood this. Travis Knight’s feature relied heavily on nostalgia and seemed modeled after E.T., but was already a marked improvement. Rise of the Beasts, set seven years later in 1994, continues in the same vein.

Anthony Ramos (A Star Is Born, Hamilton) plays Noah Diaz, a former military man who had to leave the military to care for his sick little brother. Unable to get a job, he is convinced by a friend to help him steal a car. The Porsche 911 he sneaks into turns out to be an Autobot named Mirage. Pete Davidson (SNL, The King of Staten Island, internet gossip) is the voice of the friendly robot and forms a rather comedic duo with his new pilot.

The new friends and the three other Autobots in New York (Montreal for several scenes) – Optimus Prime, Arcee and Bumblebee – then meet Elena Wallace (Swarm star Dominique Fishback). A young researcher in an archeology museum, she accidentally discovers half of the Transwarp key that could allow the Autobots to return to Cybertron. The other half was hidden in Peru by the Maximals, animal-like Transformers inspired by the Beast Wars animated series.

Once in South America, the Autobots and the Maximals realize they must join forces in order to stop Scourge and the Terrorcons from seizing the Transwarp which, in their hands, would open a portal to Earth for their devourer god. of planets, Unicron.

Interesting fact: Shortly before his death, the legendary Orson Wells recorded Unicron’s lines for The Transformers: The Movie, released in 1986.

Montrealer Peter Cullen was also in the credits at the time for Optimus Prime. Staying true to the job, he reprized the role once more. Ron Perlman is another well-known actor whose voice is recognizable: that of Optimus Primal, the gorilla who leads the Maximals.

All these talented actors together and dialogues superior to those of previous chapters give a more authentic result than usual. Humans are at the heart of the story and are not just vulnerable pawns in this war between metal titans. Don’t expect big musings on the meaning of life, but there is humor and love.

No less than five screenwriters contributed to the story. Their sheer number may have contributed to the depth of the main characters, but are most likely responsible for the chaotic final act.

Noah becoming Mega Man – or Iron Man, if you don’t know video games – is unintentionally comical. The 12-round clash between Prime and Scourge is 10 rounds too many. One feels joy when the bad guys are defeated mostly because it’s finally over.

Better than its predecessors, Rise of the Beasts remains very average. These are films that can be spectacular on the big screen and usually make a lot of money, but are never good.

Transformers One, an animated feature by Josh Cooley (Toy Story 4), is scheduled for September 13, 2024. It is to take place only on Cybertron, therefore without humans. While our race was one of the highlights of this film—along with the ol’school rap—two hours of animated robots beating each other up is the dream of anyone who grew up watching the shows on TV.