Who let the beasts out? New ‘Transformers’ tries but fails to energize the saga

June 9, 2023  -With the “Transformers” franchise clearly at a crossroads, its latest protectors have turned to their deep bench of characters. But just adding more robots won’t transform this tired series.

“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” returns the franchise to its galaxy-wide self-importance after taking a nice detour with 2018′s smaller “Bumblebee.” We have a new cast of animal robots and a very evil enemy in the planet-eating Unicron, but they’re not used right and the movie limps from fight to fight.

The key to the film is actually a key, some sort of ancient glowing shaft that will open a portal in space and time. Everyone wants it — to go home, to kill planets or to save planets. The audience may also want to use it to beam into a more interesting movie.This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Primal in a scene from "Transformers: Rise of the Beasts." (Paramount via AP)

Directed by Steven Caple Jr. — using a screenplay by Darnell Metayer, Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber and Josh Peters based on a story by Joby Harold — “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” is a big swing that seems to portend a multi-film arc nestled in time after “Bumblebee” and before the first live-action “Transformers” movie.

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