Rise of the Beasts is the first new Transformers movie in five years – but where does it fall in our Transformers Movies Ranked List?
Autobots – roll out. The Transformers franchise has been a staple in pop-culture ever since their creation as toys back in the 1980s. However, the concept of massive living creatures turning into everyday machines and living secretly amongst humans was so compelling and unique that it warranted much more than just action figures. Followed by tv shows, graphic novels, and multiple spinoffs the Transformers universe quickly became one of the largest established I.P. in the history of media. And of course, that means Hollywood came knocking. But, not all entries have been great, as we’ll dig into with our Transformers Movies Ranked list!
Fans of the Transformers universe have been blessed with eight movies over the last four decades with the latest installment, Rise of the Beasts, having its worldwide premiere this weekend. Believe it or not, Rise of the Beasts is actually the first Transformers movie to drop in nearly five years (a very large gap compared to the four Transformers movies released between 2011-2018) and has seemingly rekindled audiences interest in the franchise. With that being said, let’s take a look at how Rise of the Beasts stacks up against the rest of the movies in the Transformers franchise.
Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
Michael Bay can be credited with beginning the live-action Transformers universe and helping the franchise form a solid foundation in Hollywood – but this movie was the last straw. This was the third Transformers movie in six years and basically ignored the majority of everything that had been established before it and came out as a sloppy attempt at a clean slate. Add in the plot-line of Optimus Prime becoming evil and fighting Bumblebee and it created a movie that tried to gain a mass of new fans by angering their prior ones. After this movie came out, Transformers fatigue rightfully kicked in, even for the most loyal fans of the franchise.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
While Transformers fatigue kicked in for the more loyal fans after The Last Knight, the vast majority of audiences had already given up on the franchise after Age of Extinction. The original live-action trilogy had ended and it was clear that the studios had no idea what direction they wanted to take the franchise in, they just wanted to keep it moving. Enter Mark Wahlberg and a completely forgettable plot. Despite what should have been an upgraded protagonist, Age of Extinction was an attempt to keep the Transformers universe going and it fell short on every level – character development, plot, campiness – even the fight scenes felt harder to follow than usual. The addition of the Dinobots was a nice fan service, but seeing as how they were barely in the movie it felt more like trailer-bait than anything else.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
It’s actually kind of hard to believe how much traction this franchise got after such a horrible second outing (just a testament to how good the original live-action movie was). The sequel to Transformers took only two years to arrive on the big-screen and had fans racing to theaters… only for them to walk out disappointed. Megatron was hardly in the movie, the character/relationship development between Sam (Shia Lebeouf) and Mikaela (Megan Fox) felt scattered while every other member of the cast just felt like poor comedic relief, and the action sequences were bigger and had more explosions but were infinitely harder to follow. Not to mention, a completely lackluster villain compared to Megatron. Overall, Revenge of the Fallen is easily the worst movie from the original live-action trilogy.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
The final outing for the original live-action Transformers trilogy is very so-so, in the fact that it has a lot of great things about it and a lot of not-so great things too. The main thing to take away is that it was an absolute improvement from Revenge of the Fallen and did well enough for the studio to warrant making more movies (even if they screwed up the next couple). The effects were back to being on par with the original and the fight sequences were not only captivating but had actual motivation built behind them due to slightly more character development. However, this movie’s main curse is that it’s far too long, causing it to have way too much filler with unnecessary side characters and stories that amounted to next to nothing. All in all, not the worst Transformers movie, but certainly not the best.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023)
Not only has Rise of the Beasts rekindled the Transformers fire, but it was genuinely a super solid movie. Serving as the second straight prequel in the Transformers universe (after Bumblebee in 2018) the movie takes place in the 90s and follows a new protagonist on his journey to help the Autobots save the world. The movie itself has much more relatable characters than some of the prior films in the franchise, making it far easier for audiences to sympathize with not only the human characters but the Autobots as well. Of course, the movie has to have a few over-the-top action sequences, but they’re light-work compared to some of the Michael Bay explosions. In short, Rise of the Beasts is a movie that Transformers fans will be happy to see, hopefully getting more just like it in the future.
There’s only one reason that any of these movies (except for the next one) are even able to exist in the first place – and it’s because the original Transformers absolutely blew audiences away. Let’s be honest – in 2007, special effects still weren’t the best and weren’t anything close to what we have today. And yet, the effects of the original live-action Transformers are still mesmerizing, holding up to this day. Shia Labeouf in one of his earliest acting roles before any public scandals mixed with a strong female lead in Megan Fox (despite being a tad over-sexualized) and the pleasure of hearing Optimus Prime’s voice in live-action made for one of the greatest cinematic experiences of the 2010s. Megatron was a terrifying villain and the plot, while somewhat scattered, had real stakes that felt palpable. Again, every other live-action Transformers movie owes their existence to this one.
The Transformers: The Movie (1986)
What a stupid name for such an incredible movie. Perhaps there’s a little bias built into this answer since this animated gem is nothing like the live-action movies, or perhaps it’s because the concept of transforming living machines definitely works better in animation, but regardless it needs to be said – this will forever be one of the best Transformers movies. Airing in 1986, just a couple of years after the creation of Transformers, this movie is a goofy masterpiece with an absolutely stellar cast focused on the basic plot-line of Autobots vs Decepticons with the ever looming threat of the planet eating Unicron. Is the movie perfect – no. Is it lovable nostalgia for any diehard Transformers fan – absolutely.
Who would have thought after the travesties of Age of Extinction and The Last Knight that the Transformers franchise would step up to the plate and hit a no-doubter. Bumblebee premiered only one year after The Last Knight making it the third Transformers movie in four years, and it was originally projected to fail due to audiences being sick and tired of the franchise churning out project after project. Instead, the movie abandoned virtually all ties to its prior roots, started fresh with a simple prequel plot set in the 1980s, and had such a humanizing component that it was easily the most relatable film in the Transformers universe. The addition of Hailee Steinfeld as the new protagonist was perfect and the lack of over-the-top explosion fights made fans realize how much they actually missed the characters of the franchise.
With Bumblebee and Rise of the Beasts paving the way for the future, it’s safe to say that Transformers fans have a lot to look forward to.