“Until All Are One” – Transformers Never Looked So Good

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| June 24, 2023

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts rolled into theaters June 9, packing some serious heat. The film has officially crossed the $200 million mark and takes viewers on a whirlwind ride with their favorite Autobots and Maximals (and for those who are here for the villains, some Terrorcons, too). With a moving new arc for the legendary Optimus Prime, plenty of heart and soul, and jump-out-of-your-seat action, this is a must-see summer blockbuster that I truly hope is just the beginning of this franchise’s glorious future.

Optimus tells Bumblebee no more drive-in theaters.

The Plot

With as few spoilers as possible, the plot follows Optimus Prime and the Autobots as they search for a key to take them home to Cybertron, which was devastated by the Great War. However, Unicron–a world-devouring deity in Cybertronian lore–is seeking the same space-travel device, as it would put all worlds within his reach. Aided by Terrorcon leader Scourge and his ruthless comrades, Unicron is coming after Earth. Optimus must wrestle with his past while human co-lead Noah grapples with his future, and their individual quests for “home” lead them to the very foot of the metaphorical mountain: We’ve both been fighting for our own. What happens if we fight together?

Optimus Prime.

The Characters

A fresh, new exploration of beloved characters makes this movie shine. With the highest audience score of any live-action Transformers adaptation and a decided box office win as the number one movie worldwide, it’s safe to say fans can tell this movie was made with genuine care for the franchise. The cast and director’s appreciation of the lore and source material is evident, the score is brilliant, and the positive creative energy flows through the screen as the story quickly covers ground, catching new viewers up and letting loyal fans know where they’re starting. The irreplaceable Peter Cullen reprises his legendary role as Optimus Prime and reports he had a wonderful time working with Caple Jr. and the cast and crew. In this film, Prime endeavors to come to terms with the loss of his home and the prospect of allying with–and trusting–humans to protect this new home they can both share. We get Found Family at its best, people! Optimus and Noah’s mutual growth in respecting and supporting each other is a message many can learn from.

Prime on the battlefield.

The Action

Don’t even get me started on how action-packed this movie is. Screen time favors the piece-movers, prioritizing the plot, and let me tell you–it hits every story beat necessary. Almost every act boasts combat and conflict. And speaking of conflict, there are some verbal jabs in this movie that may soon be the stuff of legends. Not to mention I expect the comedy will produce several viral-worthy memes if it hasn’t already. And finally, without spoiling–as you all know I love to do–there is more than one moment in this movie that had me clutching the armrests in fear or shouting with the rest of the theater in victory. Certain scenes I’ll cherish forever because of all the soul that went into what this franchise stands for–unity.

Scourge.

The Heroes and the Villains

Let’s be honest. You need both an excellent hero and a standout villain for a story to be truly great. And when it comes to villains, how does it get worse than a cruel, torturous, world-eating god that follows you across the universe and is about to devour the only safe refuge you’ve found after you lost everything you loved? Canonically, Unicron desires to find “peace” by devouring all reality–except for himself, of course. Add onto that Scourge, a seasoned fighter juiced up on Dark Energon, and you have a formidable force to go against. Honoring his nature as a warrior for true peace, Optimus Prime traditionally avoids the use of excessive force, demonstrating the value of Optimus’s character. (The Matrix of Leadership doesn’t choose just anyone, after all.) But when enough is enough, he doesn’t hesitate to show both Scourge and Unicron the true power of a Prime. Suffice it to say they bit off more than they could chew . . . 

Optimus Prime draws the line.

The Recap

If you couldn’t tell by now, I absolutely loved this movie. This franchise has everything I value in entertainment: excellently illustrated duality between Good vs. Evil, complex, morally-gray characters, vast history and lore, world-shaking villains, and heroes who have everything on the line. Please note that I’m more familiar with the lore than some viewers because a close friend of mine is the biggest Transformers fan, so I went in with prior knowledge of some of the characters and world events. With that said, the exposition gets you caught up fast, drawing the metaphorical battle lines, explaining why who needs what, and establishing the terrifyingly high stakes right off the bat. The writing and overall execution stay true to the essence of these treasured characters. The jokes didn’t just land–they had the whole theater laughing, which can be a feat. The highs soar while the lows deal heart-wrenching blows, and the voice performances are stellar. Plus, this installment in the Transformers franchise found a way to make us humans genuinely useful, cleverly and expertly contrasting the Autobots’, Maximals’, and humans’ abilities and enabling them to complement each others’ strengths. A nod to the theme? I think so. Combine all of this with a strong message I can get behind, and you’ve got a win in my books. I teared up several times throughout the film and left the theater feeling like I shared in the Autobot’s victory. 

Bumblebee.

The sequel is already confirmed to be in development, so if you haven’t had a chance to go see Transformers: Rise of the Beasts yet, you need to get yourself some tickets, drive safely to the theater, and sit as close to the middle seat as you can. And yes, I mean Sheldon Cooper style for optimum viewing experience. ROTB is coming out of the gates with enough fuel and promise that I can’t wait to see where the franchise goes from here. This peek inside the heart of Optimus Prime felt like a look at how legends are made, and those who appreciate subtle character arcs will walk away with a better sense of what we can accomplish when we stand and fight for each other instead of ourselves. What better closing line could I ask for than the words of Prime himself? “Until All Are One.”

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