I don’t usually bother with teaser trailers. History has shown them to be useless in getting a real idea for the movie, just a bunch of stuff to get people talking without any real idea of what the movie will be like. However, I am a Transformers fan, which hasn’t been easy for me as of late. IDW’s series was going in a direction I lost interest in before the politics creeped in. The new shows are currently only available on Netflix or Paramount Plus (though EarthSpark will hopefully get to Nickelodeon at some point and the older shows are available on YouTube and ad-sponsored streaming sites). Then you have the Michael Bay movies. I rage-quit on Age Of Extinction after trying to be optimistic on the first movie only to have Michael Bay live down to my expectations by going in hard on everything he got wrong. I didn’t return until Bumblebee because Michael Bay wasn’t part of it and fans were actually praising the movie. As it turns out Travis Knight nailed it hard and won me over.
With Bay also not part of Rise Of The Beasts, the introduction of the Beast Wars to the nostalgia of the live-action movies, I end up concerned but hopeful. I don’t know anything about Steven Caple, Jr or screenwriters Darnell Metayer and Josh Peters, nor do I know anything of Joby Harold’s original draft or what was changed during the delays from the 2019 release to this June 2023 intended release. So maybe this will be good. I just looked up Caple and apparently he worked on Creed II and the pilot episode of Transformers: EarthSpark, the only one I’ve seen because that’s actually aired off of Paramount Plus. I even posted and reviewed it (sadly the video is now on private) and it was okay. It may explain why TF Wiki made it a point to mention that the main cast, director, and writers are all people of color, but I don’t care about that. I want it to be good and if I never knew that information, as we discussed yesterday, I wouldn’t have cared. I will judge the end product even if it was made by actual robots. So let’s look at the teaser, because it’s the rare case of a decent teaser trailer.
The obvious thing to notice are the CG models for the Autobots and Maximals. (Apparently we’re going with Terrorcons to replace the Decepticons. Not having watched the second trilogy I don’t know what happened with them, but why not the Predacons?) Caple is apparently sticking with the designs Travis Knight used in Bumblebee for the Autobots and it is very much welcome. The designs Knight had in his film kept the details that Bay got right, since tests showed going with toy or show accurate designs didn’t translate to live-action, but stripped out (pun intended) what he did wrong and tried to use as much of the G1 aesthetic as could work visually.
You can really see it in Optimus and Arcee, since we see little of Mirage (granted, a formula one racer wouldn’t have worked, either) and Bumblebee is still a Camaro. That makes sense given Volkswagen’s history and reluctance to have war toys based on their vehicles because of it. Plus at the end of Bumblebee he does lose the Beetle mode for the Camaro mode, heading into the first Bayformers movie. Sadly at this point the Camaro has become his evergreen vehicle mode, from the aligned continuity to Cyberverse and now EarthSpark. I’d accept any kind of compact car, like the mode he had in Animated, but to paraphrase Dan Didio, this is our Bumblebee now. The added lightbar is interesting.
I’m not as sold on the Maximals though. It’s better than the scrapmetal Dinobots but hardly robots in disguise. They’re full-size for a Transformer rather than an animal, have rather stumpy robot modes if Primal and Cheetor are any indication, and don’t even have fur. Still the beast modes on all four Maximals in the teaser look really cool.
Of course we have to talk about the voice acting, specifically Ron Perlman as Primal. Count me among any fans that would have rather they went with Garry Chalk for the same reason they brought Peter Cullen back instead of using Allspark’s current Optimus Prime in the streaming series’. There’s a nostalgia to having THE Optimus Prime still playing Optimus Prime and the live-action movies are fueled by casual audience nostalgia more than they are us longtime fans who stuck around all this time. In the same vein, the Beast Wars characters are being added for the same reason, in this case 90s nostalgia. Imagine the excitement to hearing Peter Cullen and Garry Chalk talking to each other? Chalk did voice Optimus for a dream sequence in Beast Machines and went on to play an alternate version of Optimus in the “Unicron Trilogy”, but having THE Optimus Prime and THE Optimus Primal together would have blown minds. Whether this was Paramount insisting, Hasbro wanting the star power, or Caple responsible for this blunder we don’t currently know. I mean, you have David Soblov voicing Rhinox, and he was in Beast Wars as Depth Charge. I’m not even saying you need all the VAs back, but not taking the opportunity to have Cullen and Chalk together is a missed opportunity!
The humans we don’t see much of but I did like the joke from the girl, Elena, when she’s trying to process the giant robots and Arcee waves at her.
Could this be good? I mean, the teaser is promising. Hopefully the marketing will not use the race gimmick (they already have the celebrity voice gimmick going) and just push the story and the actors as actors. Hopefully Caple will continue what he did right in EarthSpark and make a better live-action Transformers film than Michael Bay did. Time will tell but at least there’s something out there I’m hopeful about. Let’s see how long Hollywood takes to ruin that. Taking bets now.