TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS – Review by Susan Granger

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Secrets of synchronicity: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts once again lures fans back into theaters while the New York Times Business section lauds Silicon Valley’s highly anticipated new technology that would unite human and machine.

Known as The Singularity, it envisions a self-aware superhuman machine that could design its own improvements faster than any group of scientists.

That’s not what happens in the seventh movie in the family-friendly Transformers franchise, spawned by Hasbro action figures, but it’s not far off.

Obviously building on the success of Bumblebee (2018), it’s set in 1994 Brooklyn, introducing Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos), an Army vet/electronics whiz who is trying to land a creditable job to help his mom (Luna Larsen) and 11 year-old brother Kris (Dean Scott Vazquez), suffering from sickle-cell anemia.

Problem is: Noah gets involved with the theft of Porsche that’s not an ordinary sports car. It’s the wisecracking Autobot Mirage (Pete Davidson).

Led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), the alien Autobots, including the motorcycle Arcee (Lisa Koshy) and Volkswagen bus/mechanic Wheeljack (Dani Rojas), are trying to get back to their home on Cybertron to combat the Decepticons.

Meanwhile in an Ellis Island museum, Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback), an archeology intern, is studying a strange bird sculpture with mysterious symbols – part of a gizmo called the TransWarp Key, a space-time conduit that’s been split in two.

Then there are animal-themed Maximals from the animated Transformers: Beast Wars TV series (1996-1999), led by a biomechanical gorilla, Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman), accompanied by the peregrine falcon Airazor (Michelle Yeoh), Rhinox (David Sobolov) and Cheetor (Tongayi Chirisa).

Evil is personified by the planet-gobbling Unicron (Coleman Domingo), leader of the Terrorcons, along with his vicious henchman Scourge (Peter Dinklage). Steering away from Michael Bay’s sci-fi stridency, director Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II) interweaves genial humans and sentient machines into a coherent CGI-based story, credited to five screenwriters.

There’s the inevitable car chase – this time on the Williamburg Bridge – and big-scale battle, but travelling via the Stratosphere to Peru’s historic city of Cusco and the ruins of Machu Picchu to protect Planet Earth is an unexpected plus.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a spectacle-laden 7 – in theaters – with a mid-credit scene that teases more to come.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.