Look. I was asked to review Wild Tales, an Argentinian dark comedy much in the style of Pedro Almodóvar and Luis Buñuel, but my local cinema wasn’t showing it, so I had to see Transformers: Rise of the Beasts instead. The problem is that I’m not hyperactive 13-year-old with an expensive addiction to plastic toys and the only other person in the theatre was a little old lady who walked out when the giant space robot monkey turned up and that left me with nobody to compare notes with and… well… I don’t know why I’m telling you this except I’d committed to write a review and I’m now struggling to know how to explain the plot.

Let’s begin with the easy bit. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is one of this summer’s most hyped would-be blockbusters, aiming to relaunch the Transformers franchise which is apparently set in (checks notes) the Haribo Universe (though it was surprisingly light on the fizzy sour sweets). But what’s that you say? You don’t know what a Transformer is?

Must I do all the work?

Deep breath. The Transformers are obviously a group of giant robots from an alien world called “Cybertron”, who turn into vehicles coincidentally and conveniently identical to Earth brands such as Porsche, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, and some kind of big truck…

We join the story as Unicron, a giant robot space ball, is descending on a planet where a giant robot monkey is having a fight with a giant evil robot called “Scourge” (voiced by Peter Dinklage shouting into a bucket) who is trying to recover a giant robot key that would open up a robot gateway to somewhere so the giant robot space ball can destroy something for important giant robotic reasons. The giant robot monkey is aided by his friends a giant robot eagle, a giant robot tiger, a giant robot rhinoceros, and a giant robot kangaroo called “Manuel”.

Oh, all these giant animal robots are called “Maximals”, not to be confused with the giant robots called “Autobots”.

Clear so far? Good, though thinking about it, I might have imagined the Manuel the robot kangaroo.

But the point is: whilst the giant robot monkey is fighting Scourge, a different giant robot monkey along with the eagle, tiger, and rhinoceros manage to get the key and escape in a giant rocket (possibly robotic). We get some impressive CGI credits as the Maximals travel to the Earth where they hide this super important key (now hidden inside a statue of an owl) in a place where it is easily found by some archaeological dig and ends up in a low-security museum where curator Dominique Fishback (not a giant robot fish) recognises that there’s something odd about the owl.

Meanwhile, former soldier Anthony Ramos (not a robot and/or a Tony) is trying to steal a car to get money for his little brother’s healthcare (sad) when the car turns into a wisecracking giant robot called “Mirage” who evades the police by turning into multiple robot cars and takes him to meet the other robots including Octopus Prime (not an octopus but a big robot truck), not to be confused with Optimus Primal (the aforementioned giant robot monkey). Octopus Prime is disappointed that Mirage has brought a human to the meeting which was very much a big giant space robot only affair.

Following this? Good.

Meanwhile, Dominique Fishback pokes the owl which falls apart to reveal the key which starts to emit a beacon that attracts the attention of the evil robots who come to earth where they all have a big fight, recover the key, but then discover (plot twist) that the giant robot monkey had broken the key in half. The other half is hidden somewhere fiendishly difficult to find called “Peru”.

So, all the Autobots jump in a big green plane which for copyright reasons looks nothing like Thunderbird 2 (it has a big Biggles moustache, for example) and they fly to Peru in a particular effectively bit of 3D involving some llamas. If you are going to see this film, make sure you see it in 3D. It’s worth it just for the llamas, though sadly, none of them were robotic, which was an oversight if you ask me. Maybe for the sequel (yes, there will be a sequel).

Then there was a bit about dressing in a bobble hats, some Indiana Jones style tomb robbing, and a bit about lava. Long story short: everybody gets very down about the whole situation until Ramos chats with his young brother over cheap walkie talkies able to transmit from Peru to Brooklyn, which makes him realise what’s important. LL Cool J starts singing and Ramos starts saying things like “this ain’t Brooklyn” and “yo Brooklyn” and “I’m from Brooklyn” (I’m paraphrasing, I was scribbling these notes in the dark). Then there’s a big fight which isn’t going well until the yellow one that looks like a Fiat Punto announces that he’s here to “kick ass” and Ramos says “that’s what I’m talking about”, Fishback says “you’ve got to be kidding me”, and Octopus Prime says “let’s end this once and for all”.

At which point there’s a bloody huge explosion and when the smoke clears, everything is neatly wrapped up except where it’s not neatly wrapped up because there’s going to be a sequel and (spoiler alert) it’s got something to do with GI Joe who is now paying for Ramos’ brother’s healthcare.

In other words: if your local cinema is showing Wild Tales, an Argentinian dark comedy much in the style of Pedro Almodóvar and Luis Buñuel, go see that instead. I haven’t seen it, but I have unfortunately seen Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. I saw it Brooklyn style… Yo!

@DavidWaywell

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