5. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023)
The seventh Transformers movie, like most of the others, follows teams of robots searching for a thing. In this case, the Transwarp Key which can open a portal to the far reaches of space and allow the Transformers on Earth to return home to Cybertron, or for something else to come through. Military technician Noah and trainee archaeologist Elena are the people swept up in the battle between robots in disguise this time, and the beast-shaped Maximals and planet-eater Unicron make their live-action debuts.
Some effort has been put into making the humans (Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback) more interesting by establishing their difficult home and work lives, but before long everything is lost in the usual well-rendered but monotonous robot-punching mayhem.
Fans of the ‘Beast Wars’ franchise might be pleased to finally see Optimus Primal, Airazor, Cheetor and Rhinox show up to kick some ass in the second half of the movie, but a few cool action beats and a surprise franchise crossover tease aren’t enough to make this one memorable.
4. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Transformers 3 sees Optimus and the Autobots discover their former leader Sentinel Prime in a crashed ship on the Moon before a decisive battle turns Chicago into a warzone as the Decepticons seek to transport the entire Transformer Planet of Cybertron alongside Earth to plunder its resources.
The difference between Dark of the Moon and the first two Transformers movies (lame title aside) is that it completely embraces its stupidity. It knows it’s the biggest, the loudest and the most ridiculous kid in the playground, and the level of carnage Bay delivers is jaw-dropping even by his usual standards.
Composer Steve Jablonsky is the franchise’s secret weapon, and some of his best music is offered here, adding the odd twinge of emotion to the chaos. The underuse of some of the greatest American character actors of all time (Frances McDormand and John Malkovich) is criminal, but Peter Cullen’s Optimus vocal performance is great as always, especially when gravely discussing alien robot warfare with Leonard Nimoy as Sentinel.
But please, don’t use Chernobyl as a plot point in your Transformers movie – it’s not in the best of taste.
3. Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
The Autobots have gone into hiding as sinister human black ops teams and Transformer bounty hunters search out and destroy them. Cade Yeager discovers and revives Optimus, who takes the fight to Hong Kong where an army of artificial Transformer drones under the command of Galvatron are staging a planetary takeover.
It may still be dumb and far, far too long, but Age of Extinction featured a much-needed design overhaul complete with vivid colours and recognisable silhouettes so you can easily make out which robot is punching which, with Bay seemingly making more of an effort to compose his shots and give his audience time for the massively-scaled action to register.
The new human cast are far more engaging than the original lineup too, but there’s a slightly creepy obsession with the “Romeo and Juliet Law” (look it up), the Japanese robot of course looks like a samurai and it’s kind of hilarious we’re expected to buy Wahlberg as an inventor with his head in the clouds.
The massive “dinobots” hinted at in the title and marketing might only turn up for about ten minutes at the end, but Optimus gets to ride the T-Rex into battle, a sight that more than justifies the price of admission.
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