Is Hasbro taking a step backwards with Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts?

In my last article, I talked about the Bumblebee movie, and the uncertainty around the franchise’s future following the film’s struggle at the box office. However, against all the odds (and not the sort you’d get at online casino games australia), the film eventually made enough money for Hasbro and Paramount to continue the franchise in the cinema. So after an eventful couple of years, Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts is being unleashed onto audiences this summer.

Before I continue, I have a few things I want to say which will put a lot of my thoughts into context throughout this article. First, my favourite Transformers show of all time is Beast Wars. It’s the series that got me into Transformers and it holds a very special place in my heart. Secondly, I’ve spent the last decade or so actively avoiding spoilers of any kind when it comes to film and television. I’ve followed casting information and trailers about Rise Of The Beasts, but I’ve tried to avoid the plot and too much so I can watch the film with fresh eyes when it’s released.

Rise Of The Beasts In A Nutshell

Set several years after Bumblebee, the film goes back to the action roots of the previous films in the series. But this time, it aims to bridge generations between the original G1 series which has been the inspiration for the movies so far, and the 1996 show and toy range Beast Wars.

Featuring more human characters than the previous film, the film involved several Cybertronian factions warring with each other. An expanded Autobots group briefly seen at the end of Bumblebee, as expected headed up by Optimus Prime. Maximals, Predacons and Terrorcons. Surprisingly – at this stage at least, there has been no reference to the Decepticons being featured in the movie.

Renewed Confidence

Following the overall sucess of Bumblebee, things certainly seem to have changed behind the scenes for Rise Of The Beasts. The movie’s release date has once again moved back to the traditional summer slot which should give it a welcome boost. Of greater significance is that the budget has increased to a reported $200m. There are substantially more robotic characters involved, no doubt which has demanded the higher budget.

Saying that, this is probably something Hasbo are banking on financially as the more toys available to buy, the more proft the film will make. Or so they hope. But with the number of shelf-warmers we saw with the first movie, that’s not always the case.

Trukk Not Munky

Now, this has been a running joke in Transformers fandom for decades. But feelings are still split when it comes to Beast Wars. Despite the Beast era being part of the Transformers franchise for well over 25 years now, there are still many who can not accept the show. Even though it was regarded as having some of the strongest storylines of any Transformers series, the simple fact that the characters didn’t transform into vehicles was enough for a section of fandom to reject it.

In one way, I can actually understand the sentiment here. The target audience for Transformers back in 1984 was young boys. Two things that would have appealed most were toy cars and anything sci-fi related, especially robots. The Transformers franchise was a work of genius to combine the two into a single product. Take away half of that and part of the appeal is gone.

Do People Actually Want A Beast Beast Wars Movie?

This may seem like I’m asking an obvious question, but is there really a demand for a Beast Wars film, even in part? Sadly, I don’t think there is. Even people who aren’t Transformers fans, the casual audience, will have heard of Optimus Prime and Megatron. They are vaguely familiar with robots that transform into cars and other vehicles. And they generally know that Optimus transforms into a truck. But Optimus Primal?

I’d wager than most people wouldn’t have a clue who any of the Beast Wars characters were. Equally, there would be little or no interest amongst them in seeing them on the big (or small) screen. When the first live action movie was released there was an incredible amount of hype surrounding it. Understandably so, seeing live action versions of the characters for the first time. But with Beast Wars very few actually care.

Too Late For Beast Wars?

What hasn’t helped is the timing. The 25th Anniversary of Beast Wars was two years ago. This would have been the perfect time to release a Beast Wars themed film. But even then, Hasbro should have made more of an effort to celebrate the Anniversary. Greater visibility of the re-releases of the toys, remastered episodes on DVD or blu ray, or at the very least one of the major streaming services but instead there’s very little.

To add insult to injury, when we do get the film, all of the characters that are featured have been recast and are being voiced by other actors. While the same has been done for the G1 characters (with the exception of Peter Cullen reprising his role as Optimus Prime), it’s a disappointment not to have the return of the likes of Garry Chalk, Ian James Corlett, Richard Newman etc. In fact, David Sobolov is the only Beast Wars cast member making an appearance, albeit in different roles.

Plot Changes

The final thing that is going to be of concern for most is the changes to the back story of the characters. Featuring both G1 and Beast Wars characters together as well as the other factions makes it clear from the start that the film is a complete retcon of the Beast Wars and G1 origin stories which have always been intertwined. While the average cinema goer won’t be aware of this, it will alienate Beast Wars and G1 fans, something that Bumblebee managed to undo after the travesty of the Michael Bay movies.

My final worry, and again this harks back to the earlier films, is that the film looks very over-crowded. With at least fourteen known Cybertronian characters so far it’s hard to see how they will each get ample screen time or avoid being cannon-fodder in the same way Jazz did in the first film. Sadly I expect to see more than a few casualties amongst the fan favourites.

Even without seeing more than just the trailers, this really does feel like a backwards step for the series. I just hope it does well enough financially to finally bring us Bumblebee 2…

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About Simon Plumbe 497 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian. Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe