After a decade of ear-shattering, headache-inducing, critic-riling hits, director Michael Bay’s Transformers series finally ran out of gas with 2017’s The Last Knight.
But robot/car toys can’t be expected to sell themselves. So Hasbro is targeting a new generation’s pocket money with a rebooted series.
Picking up the alternate timeline set up by 2018’s spin-off Bumblebee, Steven Caple Jr’s Rise Of The Beasts suggests a quieter franchise could emerge.
The setting is a hip hop-infused 1994 Brooklyn, seven years after robotic alien refugees The Autobots arrived on earth and took on vehicular disguises.
But ex-soldier Noah (Anthony Ramos) has his own problems. Unable to land a job on civvy street, he’s turned to crime to pay for healthcare for his sick kid brother.
A plan to steal a Porsche goes awry when the German sports car transforms into wisecracking robot Mirage (Pete Davidson).
Soon, Noah meets the rest of the Autobots and head good robot Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) tasks him with another heist. To get back to their home planet, they need “the Transwarp Key” – a space-time conduit that New York museum researcher Elena (Dominique Fishback) is studying.
From here, the human drama disappears as the film turns into a series of chases, CGI battles and clunkily heroic speeches. Thankfully, there’s also a smattering of comedy with mildly risqué double entendres and knowing gags about the Autobots’ nonsensical human accents.
The new range of animal-based Transformers (Ron Perlman voices a metallic gorilla and Michelle Yeoh a robo-falcon) also make very little sense. But, while not quite a transformation, this new reboot offers a welcome change of pace from the bombast of Bay.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Cert: 12A, In cinemas now