It is saying nothing new that “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” is a movie heavy on action and light on story and acting. That has been the general format through most of the seven offerings in the franchise except for the first and the most recent, “Bumblebee.” The Autobots are on autopilot as they once again go from lamenting about not being able to get home and saving their adopted planet.

Why such an evaluation isn’t surprising is that the entire franchise was launched from an ‘80s animated television show where the main purpose was to sell toys that were impossible to twist and turn from cars to robots. It is difficult to imagine anyone at Hasbro suggesting the series needed more emotional depth.

That was how Michael Bay approached the initial five movies when he was directing with the start of the tales in 2007 and his legacy continues with Steven Caple Jr. (“Creed II”). Caple has embraced the fast editing that has always made it difficult to tell one giant morphing robot from another. He found a way to take away any sparks of danger to humanity that was the mainstay of the first films by reducing the human connection in “Rise of the Beasts” to Noah (Anthony Ramos), an ex-soldier trying to protect his family and resident nerd, Elena (Dominique Fishback).

The battle between the Autobots with their new animal-looking Maximals allies against the evil Terrorcons and the world-devouring Unicron focuses almost entirely on the CGI characters. It should be noted that the fact Unicron travels the galaxy eating worlds feels like a poor man’s version of Galactus from the Marvel Comics.

Maybe the most amazing thing in terms of the movie is that there is a long list of writers including Joby Harold, Darnell Metayer, Jon Hoeber Josh Peters and Erich Hoeber. It doesn’t seem like a real writing challenge to write – action scene, couple of lines of dialogue, cheesy moment between man and machine and more action scenes. There are certainly no lines of dialogue that stand out.

Nothing in this film stands out. The action unfolds in the mid-90s but except for the mention of O.J. Simpson and selections in the soundtrack, the film could have taken place in almost any year. There is a slight link to other films but even those moments are weakened by knowing what happened in the movies that took place in time periods after this one.

Even the introduction of the Maximals (another toy line) comes with little fanfare. There is no explanation given to why they took the shape of Earth creatures when they came from another world. They are just an expansion of a world that was already a jumbled robotic mess.

Even the casting lacks luster. The selections of Ramos and Fishback as the primary humans aren’t bad. But neither seems to express the kind of wide-eyed panic that a person would feel when faced with seeing a semi truck turn into a talking robot.

Caple tries his best to make the Autobot Mirage (voiced by Pete Davidson) the standout character. That might have worked if someone other than Davidson had voiced the character. He doesn’t have the acting skills needed to get across emotions with just his words. He can barely do it when allowed to use his whole body. He should have taken lessons from Peter Cullen who is perfect casting to voice Optimus Prime.

Michelle Yeoh, Peter Dinklage and Ron Perlman are better but so much of their dialogue is lost in the too-hot soundtrack and the continuous clatter of Autobots changing shape. These are talented people who gave it their all, but this is not a movie about great performances.

Those behind “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” had to know that the film was going to do well as a summer release. Even if American audiences have grown tired of the franchise, there is always the foreign market to save the box office. When there is that kind of potential, there is no reason to be daring.

It would just be nice if the franchise is going to continue that the effort look like such a Prime mistake.

Movie review

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Grade: C

Cast: Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Michelle Yeoh, Peter Dinklage, Ron Perlman.

Director: Steven Caple Jr.

Rated: PG-13 for peril, language, violence

Running time: 127 minutes.