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Downshifting Transformers


WORLD Radio - Downshifting Transformers

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts rolls out a cleaner but uninspiring plot

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NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, June 9th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Up next on The World and Everything in It: Movies for the weekend. Here’s arts and culture editor Collin Garbarino.

OPTIMUS PRIME: Calling all Autobots. Roll out!

COLLIN GARBARINO: This weekend, the latest installment of the Transformers franchise rolls into theaters. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is the seventh film in the 16-year-old series of movies featuring robots in disguise. But it’s the second chronologically—a follow up to the 2018 prequel Bumblebee.

The year is 1994, and Noah Diaz, played by Anthony Ramos, is a desperate down- on-his-luck veteran. Noah gets talked into stealing a sports car to make money to pay his sick brother’s medical bills, but the Porsche he steals is more than meets the eye.

MIRAGE: Whoo hoo hoo! That felt good. That felt good. I’ve been cooped up forever, dude. This is probably a lot for you, huh?

Noah’s new Autobot friend is named Mirage, and he’s voiced by comedian Pete Davidson. Mirage introduces Noah to the rest of the Transformers.

MIRAGE: Oh, great. The gang’s here.
NOAH: There are more like you?

But since this is a prequel, their leader Optimus Prime hasn’t yet learned to trust humans.

OPTIMUS PRIME: You brought a human here?
NOAH: I’m a nobody. I ain’t even see nothing. I’m not even seeing anything right now.

The bad guys in this movie are Terrorcons. Three evil transformers who attempt to summon their world-devouring master, Unicron, to Earth.

To stop Unicron, the Autobots must team up with the Maximals, robots that transform into animals instead of vehicles. Don’t worry, the movie doesn’t even attempt to explain why alien robots look like giant apes and cheetahs and birds.

OPTIMUS PRIME: Stand down!
[Primal roars.]
I won’t ask a second time.

Rise of the Beasts is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and language. Neither Bumblebee nor this movie have the sensuality of the early Transformer movies, but Mirage does make some crude comments. The language pushes the boundaries of the PG-13 rating.

’90s kids will smile at some of the movie’s references. And transformer fans will probably enjoy Rise of the Beasts. The movie returns to some of the source material from the comic books.

But as a sequel to Bumblebee, which was actually pretty good, Rise of the Beasts is a disappointment. The filmmakers took the elements of Bumblebee and dialed everything up to 11. And in the process they lost the charm.

The storyline is basically the same. Humans and good robots must team up to keep bad robots from sending a beacon into outer space that will summon death and destruction to Earth. But this time, instead of a sweet story about one girl and one Autobot, fighting against three Decepticons, we get a somewhat sassy story about two humans, six Autobots, and four Maximals fighting against three Terrorcons. You never really feel like the odds are against the good guys.

I won’t blame you if you decide to skip Transformers this weekend and queue up something new on streaming.

MUSIC: ["Avatar 2"theme]

This week, Avatar: The Way of Water landed on Disney+ and Max.

At 3 hours and 12 minutes, the movie is punishingly long. If you decide to watch, I recommend splitting it up over two or three nights. The storyline isn’t compelling enough to watch straight through. It’s mostly the same eco-worship we see in the original Avatar, only this time with more water.

TSIREYA: The sea gives. And the sea takes. Water connects all things.

I can’t say much positive about the story or worldview, but the special effects are incredible. It puts to shame the underwater scenes in both Wakanda Forever and new The Little Mermaid.

If you’re interested in something different from sci-fi action extravaganza, maybe check out Creed III which you can stream on Prime Video starting today. It’s the ninth film in the 47-year-old Rocky franchise. This is the first one without Sylvester Stallone in the role of Rocky Balboa, but it’s got all the beats of a Rocky movie.

TRAINER: You got to block out everything and be in the moment. Not the past. Not the future. Right now.

In this movie, boxing champion Donnie Creed must confront his childhood friend Damian. Damian has just gotten out of prison, and he’s consumed with jealousy over Donnie’s success. Boxing movies aren’t for everyone, but I liked that Creed III doesn’t portray masculinity as a problem to be solved. Rather it’s a gift to be channeled.

You can find my full reviews of both Avatar 2 and Creed III on our website:

I’m Collin Garbarino.

BROWN: If you're interested in getting more reviews and entertainment news delivered to your inbox, you can subscribe to Collin’s weekly Muse newsletter at

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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