This Weeks Your Nerd Side Show:
The following contains spoilers for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, now in theaters.
When Transformers: Rise of the Beasts was announced, fans were excited to get more bots in the fray. It was fun in the Michael Bay films seeing the Autobots and Decepticons go to war. But a big change was needed, which a Beast Wars remix would provide.
As more marketing material rolled out, the hype grew. Folks loved seeing designs for the Maximals such as Optimus Primal, and for the Terrorcons like Scourge. While the movie does utilize these factions relatively well in the action sequences, there's still a lingering problem with how the Maximals are portrayed.
Rise of the Beasts Doesn't Give the Maximals Much Character
Rise of the Beasts opens with the Maximals fleeing after Unicron devours their home. However, the focus is on Apelinq dying and passing the mantle of leadership to Primal. But when the Autobots meet them on Earth years later, Primal's the main focus alongside Airazor. The thing is, there's not much character or personality to Rhinox and Cheetor. They barely have lines, which is unfortunate because both were important to Primal's mission in BeastWars.
Since chatty bots like Rattrap aren't in the movie, fans would have loved to see Cheetor being wise. It would have nodded to how Primal had him as a general in the CGI cartoon. As for Rhinox, his military strategy is on a genius level, so he would have been crucial in helping map out a plan in Peru. Given the Terrorcons were coming for the other half of the Transwarp key, they could have laid traps as well, expressing more of their personalities. This direction wastes these characters, made even worse by Airazor getting killed in battle later on.
Rise of the Beasts Could Have Crafted Unique Partnerships
Another major issue is audiences don't really see Cheetor and Rhinox's bot forms that much. Or even Airazor's. The focus is on their animal forms, which feels like wasted potential because this aesthetic reflects so much of what the bots are truly about. The movie could have shown more of this and allowed them to partner with the Autobots to forge an alliance. Partnerships in Peru could have had Airazor working with Arcee on scouting, paving the way for the Autobot bike to learn Airazor had been corrupted by Scourge. Instead, the film has a predictable, bland scene with Primal finding his friend poisoned and turning on them.
Such an approach would have shared more insight into Airazor's love for the planet, and which cultures she learned from when she got separated when they arrived. More so, it'd have instilled context for the inner conflict as Scourge takes her mind. In addition, Cheetor could have worked with Mirage and Noah on the Terrorcons' weaknesses, seeing as they're the young bunch eager for a firefight. In the process, viewers would have learned why Primal's pack bonded with their special Peruvian tribe and found Earth enthralling -- to the point, they'd risk going back to Cybertron just to save this lush planet.
Elsewhere, the wise, experienced Rhinox could have partnered with Wheeljack, Prime, Primal and Elena, who's into relics. They could have worked on the lay of the land and the deactivation code for the key. It'd have felt organic and much more serious than Elena just having a Hail Mary play and remembering glyphs from Airazor. Ultimately, Rise of the Beastsdoes lend a new look and feel in terms of style and substance to the franchise. But it's undeniable how much it undersells the Maximals, which is in stark contrast to the Autobots who fans have seen and followed for many years on the big screen. The new bots deserve more shine, so hopefully, the Transformers sequels add more and really expand on the Maximals' identity and individuality.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is now in theaters.