Transformers – The awakening, the review: a full tank of petrol for a saga in reserve

Transformers: Awakening review: prequel or reboot? Who knows… Meanwhile, let’s take the coupon of the film starring Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback. Starting with the legendary Nineties.

Transformers - The awakening, the review: a full tank of petrol for a saga in reserve

Even the fracassone franchise of says so Transformers (here a little less noisy, at least in the first half), then it’s true: after the hangover of the 80s, the Nineties are finally back. And we say it: the final decade that marked one of the most prosperous moments of the twentieth century, lends itself very well to yet another (it is the seventh) chapter of the film saga inspired by Hasbro toys (but this looks like a reboot). Indeed, the legendary 90s seem to be its natural habitat: excessive, nostalgic, experimental at the right point, poised between analogue and digital. A perfect pretext, which embraces a multi-purpose audience: those who have directly experienced the Nineties, and those who have been able to try them out thanks to the fashion of Pull&Bear. Jokes aside, Transformers – The Awakeningdirected by Steven Caple Jr., which made its name in 2016 thanks to the excellent The Land (quite a different genre: a summer movie from coming-of-age reverberations), makes the best use of the surrounding material, while remaining faithful to its vocation: to entertain.

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Transformers: The Awakening: a photo

Entertaining without frills, as entertained – coincidentally – the blockbusters that paved Hollywood cinema at the end of the millennium, anticipating the concept of “big screen experience” by about thirty years. In this case, the prequel to Transformers (2007), as well as sequels to Bumblebeerespect his mission pop and popular (complete with pre-established timing: including the boring final battle), meanwhile trying to drain the pre-concepts related to the franchise brought to theaters for the first time by Michael Bay. Nonetheless, times are changing. So there is no more room for uncertainties, you have to run and reach your goal. As? Even starting from scratch, focusing strongly on the concept of prequels, which could change the order of the addends: the good success of Bumblebee pointed the way, e Transformers – The Awakening that line of thought continues: the show is sacrosanct, but the show must be supported by a glimmer of (at least apparent) emotionality, (un)expectedly relaxing the tone and mood.

From Brooklyn to Peru: the plot of the film

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Transformers – The Awakening: a scene

As mentioned, Transformers – The Awakening continues the story re-started with the moving Bumbleebe. The film was written by a large group of authors: Joby Harold, Darnell Metayer, Josh Peters, Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber. So many that, perhaps for this reason, the film gradually takes different directions, even if starting from a fundamental year. It’s 1994. We’re in Brooklyn, and the Twin Towers still stand out against the background of the skyline. On the other side of the East River, the paths of Noah (Anthony Ramos), an electronic expert and ex-military, and Elena (Dominique Fishback, how strange to see her in a very different context from the controversial series Swarm) exploited Ellis Island museum intern, and aspiring archaeologist.

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Transformers – The Awakening: a frame from the film

The two meet when Elena, by chance, comes across a strange artifact, with symbols that refer to the Maximals (in short: robots disguised as animals). The object is part of a key, which allows you to travel in a space-time conduit which, conditionally is a must, could help Optimus Prime and the Autobots return to Cybertron. However, the key draws the attention of the evil Terrocorns, led by the evil Scourge. The threat looms, and the race gets underway: helped by the animal Maximals, Noah, Elena and the Autobots (including the nice Mirage) fly to Peru, where the missing part of the key is hidden.

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Transformers, the awakening. Of the saga?

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Transformers – The Awakening: an action scene from the film

Naturally, Steven Caple Jr.’s film is built (to stay on topic) around a plot of the most classic given the context and given the genre. A functional and “reassuring” plot, without however renouncing the vitality of the emotions disconnected from the explosive architecture in its standardization. The robots gain some depth – and the animal likenesses help -, making us believe what the show puts on. The angular Optimus Prime would just like to go home, and that in itself would already mean a lot in narrative terms, feeling guilty for having “forced” the other Autobots into a sort of exile. Incredibility of course is the main ingredient, but (still) following the example of Bumbleebe every contour is smoothed and adjusted, in a cinematic format that suggests a partly rediscovered and perhaps renewed transport. In short, humans and machines, for the first time, are written to be part of the same cinematic universe, as demonstrated by the last five minutes of the film (which we don’t reveal!).

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Transformers – The Awakening: a scene from the movie

In short, Steven Caple Jr., although confined to the rules that oppress the concept-franchise, manages to make sense of the same spectacularity without daring too much. Play with the characters (but forget to delve more into Elena) and play with the locations (from Brooklyn to Machu Picchu) as if she were Indiana Jones (complete with a quote), hold the command of the editing (during the action scenes, above all), keeps the storyline alive as much as possible (we repeat: it is a prequel that suggests a total remake of the saga) and above all focuses on the soundtrack, efficient and engaging in hip-hop notes. From Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J a Hypnotize by Notorious BIG, ending with Wu-Tang. Nothing exaggerated, mind you: the intuition of Transformers – The Awakening but it might be enough to revive the show. After all, there’s always a need for a good popcorn movie that makes the armchair vibrate, to be enjoyed without thinking about the distortions of a (real) world that needs so much a “big guy” like Optimus Prime. Or not, too serious. Much better Mirage!


Maybe a prequel, maybe a reboot, definitely the sequel to sweet Bumbleebe. And it is precisely the yellow Autobot who shows the way forward in Transformers – The awakening. As written in our review, the film is a good starting point for the saga, also thanks to the locations, the rediscovered personality of the Autobots, and then thanks to the 90s setting. On the other hand, the usual final battle lengthens the broth, and Elena’s evolution leaves quite dumbfounded. More could have been done.

Because we like it

  • The 90s!
  • Mirage is our favorite.
  • The rental.
  • The first half of the movie…

What’s wrong

  • … as the last part is dedicated to the same boring battle.
  • It seems that the standardized concept of a franchise cannot be overcome.
  • Elena would have deserved more study.

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