Rise of the Beasts at War… or a Beast War, If You Will
Rise of the Beasts’ main villain is Scourge, a Terrorcon (as if Decepticon wasn’t an obvious enough designation). Staring down the film’s human hero Noah (Anthony Ramos) as the Earth nears destruction, Scourge shouts, “No one will remember this pathetic planet.” That’s overwritten. “No one will remember this,” better summarizes Rise of the Beasts.
After seven of these Transformers movies, they begin to run together. There’s a lot of clanking metal, funny quips, and pop culture references. Lasers, bullets, robots – it’s standard fare, produced by overworked CG artists. This time, rather than Dinobots, it’s Maximals, robots who for reasons unexplained, evolved on another planet to look like animals from Earth. But, that’s no less sensible than aliens evolving to look like Mack trucks either, so go with it.
Moving from New York to Peru, primarily to avoid a gaping timeline plot hole (Rise of the Beasts takes place in the ‘90s and Transformers are still new to people, even though they also were in the 2007 original), the script loses its human plot completely. Noah struggles to pay for his younger brother’s health care, a better cause compared to the rampant militarism seen in the previous Transformer movies. It’s also hilarious to see a happy ending where everything is paid for thanks to Noah’s heroics, apparently the only way to ensure access to basic medical care in the US. Point taken.
There’s also a slim moral divide as Noah debates destroying a key that might send the Transformers back home, but also invites Earth’s destruction. In that, Rise of the Beasts presents a scrambled message about immigration, as if the issue carries with it such an obvious outcome.
It needs to be simple though. After all, Rise of the Beasts is meant for kids, maybe teens. They might enjoy this; it’s all they grew up on. Flashy explosions, exchanged lasers, and utterly abhorrent lore and context backing it all. While not as comatose-inducing as the overlong Michael Bay features, Rise of the Beasts also lacks the charm of Bumblebee, which remains the tentpole film in this franchise. Given the tease that happens at Rise of the Beasts climax, it’s unlikely Transformers will return to that slimmed down, better told form anytime in the future.
A pure 4k digital master produces dazzling results. Texture is absolutely exquisite, and that goes for human and robots alike. Impeccable sharpness greets every scene. Medium shots appear as crisp as those from afar, showing stellar environments. Close-ups represent the best textures this format can produce.
Less aggressive than prior Michael Bay Transformers, Rise of the Beasts slims down flesh tones from hyper bronzed orange to merely the warmer side of things. Other primaries look sensational, richly saturated without going overboard.
Black levels drop a stable, consistent thickness. While not always pure black, Rise of the Beasts comes close, and it’s enough to sustain depth. Highlights hold out for glinting metals, explosions, and other such elements to make the action pop all the more. Noise does impede a handful of shots, but these pass quickly.
This disc is the reason (or, one of them anyway) there’s a subwoofer in your home theater. A monstrous low-end shakes the room for any reason Rise of the Beasts wants it to, whether that’s the ’90s hip hop soundtrack, a bevy of explosions, or clashing robots. It’s loud, but not excessive, and in peak balance. The smoothness, the weight, the thickness – Rise of the Beasts has it all.
Every Transformers reached peak performance like this on Blu-ray and 4K. This is equal to all of them. Awesome, extensive, and constant surround use fills the soundstage. That includes non-action scenes where New York sounds wholly alive. Then, when in action, it’s splendid. Surrounds engage fully. Voices bounce about the soundstage, and shattering robots send their debris all over, including overheads.
Nine featurettes, many with generic titles like Heroes and The Final Conflict define what they’re covering. These join deleted scenes. The total is around an hour of material, but primarily EPK stuff.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
Rise of the Beasts is definitely a Transformers movie. That’s about all there is to say about it.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 39 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: