57 Movies Like Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023) (Page 2)

Staff & contributors

Chasing the feel of watching Transformers: Rise of the Beasts ? Here are the movies we recommend you watch right after.

The tired stereotype is that in horror films, it’s always the Black characters who are the first to die. The Blackening turns that on its head and gives us an interesting premise by asking, what if all the characters are Black? While it’s not the first film to do this (in fact, a lot of Black creatives are reclaiming horror and dominating the genre), it just might be the first to tackle the issue in a smart and funny way. This is a ridiculous parody filled with outsized performances and observational jokes, but it’s equally meta and socially aware as it literally (and thankfully) beats the stereotype to its final death. 

 

Genre: Comedy, Horror

Actor: Antoinette Robertson, Dewayne Perkins, Diedrich Bader, George Fisher, Grace Byers, James Preston Rogers, Jay Pharoah, Jermaine Fowler, Melvin Gregg, Sinqua Walls, X Mayo, Yvonne Orji

Director: Tim Story

Rating: R

One wouldn't expect to see Count Dracula's youthful-looking helper at your local 12-step self-help group for people in codependent relationships, but Renfield holds more than one surprise up its sleeve. By translating the working relationship (or master-slave, since the latter doesn't get any pay) into the vocabulary of common relationship counselling parlance, the film actually elevates its symbolic status. Even more, I'd dare call it a hoot. Not that many vampire films have managed to make a proper comedy out of the figure in question, and Renfield with its simplistic appeal puts to shame even the artsy Netflix production El Conde, which also came out earlier this year. With Awkwafina in the mix and iconic lines such as "I don't want your murder cookies", how can you resist?

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

Actor: Adrian Martinez, Anil Bajaj, Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz, Bess Rous, Betsy Borrego, Brandon Scott Jones, Brian Egland, Camille Chen, Caroline Williams, Chloe Adona, Christopher Winchester, Derek Russo, Gabriel 'G-Rod' Rodriguez, James Moses Black, Jenna Kanell, Joshua Mikel, Keith Brooks, Lacey Dover, Lena Clark, Lucy Faust, Marcus Lewis |, Marvin Ross, Mike Harkins, Nicholas Hoult, Nicolas Cage, Rhonda Johnson Dents, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Stephen Louis Grush, Susan McPhail, T.C. Matherne, William Ragsdale

Director: Chris McKay

Rating: R

In the world of excavation and wonderous breakthroughs, Unknown: The Lost Pyramid is a refreshing take on archaeology by showing the discoveries of Egyptian history from native Egyptian archaeologists. Following Dr. Hawass and his mentee, Dr. Waziri, as they race against the elements of the desert, the documentary uses their passion and egos to spearhead the narrative. Thus, every step closer feels both prideful and invasive with the constant reminder that they're excavating 2000+-year-old tombs. Comprehensive explanations and illustrative cinematography illuminate the meticulous labor that goes into Egyptology.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Zahi Hawass

Director: Max Salomon

The latest installment in Netflix'S “Unknown” docuseries, Unknown: Killer Robots puts the evolution of artificial intelligence under an ethical microscope. Although the title could be misleading, it does cover the possible dangerous applications of AI as it forces us to question the growing divide between human morality and machine efficiency. With advances in war and medicinal applications, the capabilities of AI to heal, save and destroy are terrifying and awe-inspiring in equal measure. Like the previous films in the series, it is hyper-concentrated to an almost-stifling degree, but it’s also powered by the passionate subjects on either side of these advancements. Forgoing sensationalism, this digestible documentary questions intention over the technology itself. 

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Director: Jesse Sweet

With a forest home destroyed, leaving an adorable cat spirit child displaced, The Legend of Hei seemed like a Studio Ghibli-esque tale, at least in themes, child protagonist, and fantasy flying. There’s charming moments where Hei appreciates the day-to-day– moments where he diligently learns his powers, enjoys the simple human pleasures present in the modern world, and of course, feels at home in the stunning natural spirit places. However, it’s not quite Ghibli as there are plenty of wuxia-inspired fight scenes, with as many flying kicks involved. That being said, there is a pro-peace message here, that at face value, is probably a good message for children, but this film’s peace comes without clear details about Hei’s displacement, or the general condition of the spirit world at large. The Legend of Hei’s charming animation is lovely, but this push for peace could have been more meaningful if it also considered justice.

Genre: Action, Animation, Fantasy

Actor: Chen Siyu, Ding Dang, Hao Xianghai, Li Lu, Liu Mingyue, Shan Xin, Sheng Feng, Wang Youji, Yang Ning, Yeqiao Yan, Yuntu Cao

Director: MTJJ, Mtjj Mutou

Rating: PG

Stan Lee, the documentary, is a charming introduction to the iconic creator. He enthusiastically narrates his journey into comics – from lowly intern to famous publisher – giving a seemingly modest account of events. With his voice making most of the narrative, Lee’s voice reveals his creative process and mindset, detailing the day-to-day writing process and the Marvel method. However, the documentary isn’t Lee’s voice alone. Director David Gelb brings a charming approach to this documentary, as seen in his previous work, that helps turn his subject palatable, despite the disagreement displayed by other people. Overall, the film is an okay introduction, though the full story behind Lee’s most contentious events, deserves a documentary of its own.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Jack Kirby, Joan Lee, Joe Simon, Kevin Feige, Roy Thomas, Stan Lee

Director: David Gelb

Rating: TV-14

While it starts off slow and rocky, River Wild sails smoothly as soon as it hits the waters. The rafting on the rapids, the wild chases, the suspenseful silences—all are effectively shot and believably terrifying, even if they border on predictability at times. Real-life couple Meester and Brody are vulnerable and intense, adding some depth to an otherwise basic story. Killam is compelling too, especially during the action sequences, but I might have seen him in one-too-many comedy sketches to trust his sincerity here. It’s not the best outdoor thriller by a long shot, especially if you compare it to the superior 1994 original film starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon, but it is entertaining in its own right. 

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Adam Brody, Courtney Chen, Eve Connolly, Leighton Meester, Matt Devere, Nicholas Wittman, Olivia Swann, Taran Killam

Director: Ben Ketai

It’s best not to overthink the details of No Hard Feelings, an uproarious comedy that benefits from the lead actors’ physicality. It’s meant to be enjoyed as it happens, at the moment, with Lawrence lighting up every scene with full-bodied commitment and Feldman, a worthy co-lead, delighting at every turn. They’re playing stock characters, and the script doesn’t give much beyond the usual backstories, but Lawrence and Feldman play them with so much heart and gusto, knocking every scene they’re in out of the park. Everything else plays second fiddle to their two-hander show. The cameos are star-studded but forgettable (except for Kyle Mooney, who I wished was onscreen more as Percy’s male nanny), the character development is heartwarming but predictable, and though it bills itself as a sex comedy, the film never really touches past third base. But all that is water under the bridge when you’re watching Maddie and Percy flirt and fumble their way through the film.  

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Alaina Surgener, Alysia Joy Powell, Amalia Yoo, Andrew Barth Feldman, Ari Frenkel, Brian Calì, Christina Catechis, Christopher Bailey, Darren Valinotti, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Hasan Minhaj, Jacob Augustin, Jennifer Lawrence, Jordan Mendoza, Kyle Mooney, Laura Benanti, Luca Padovan, Madison McBride, Matt Walton, Matthew Broderick, Matthew Noszka, Melissa Lehman, Natalie Morales, Quincy Dunn-Baker, Scott MacArthur, Sophie Tananbaum, Victor Verhaeghe, Zahn McClarnon

Director: Gene Stupnitsky

Rating: R

After more than six years in the making, The Little Mermaid should be a spectacle for the ages, but even the magic of Rob Marshall (Chicago) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) cannot save the live-action remake. The film feels at once too stunted for an actual musical and too expansive to be just another movie. There's something uncanny, too, in how the humans look underwater and inland so that the wetness of the characters (of all things!) becomes a weirdly icky factor. Not to mention Scuttle the diving bird who looks more like a demonic creature than a feathery companion, or the flat disappointment that is Flounder. If that's the price we must pay for reality, we don't want it.

Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Music, Romance

Actor: Adrian Christopher, Art Malik, Awkwafina, Christopher Fairbank, Craig Stein, Daveed Diggs, Emily Coates, Halle Bailey, Jacob Tremblay, Javier Bardem, Jessica Alexander, Jodi Benson, John Dagleish, Jon-Scott Clark, Jonah Hauer-King, Jude Akuwudike, Kajsa Mohammar, Karolina Conchet, Leon Cooke, Lorena Andrea, Marcus Hodson, Martina Laird, Melissa McCarthy, Noma Dumezweni, Russell Balogh, Sienna King, Simone Ashley, Sophie Carmen-Jones, Tarik Frimpong, Yasmin Harrison

Director: Rob Marshall

Rating: PG

More streamlined and more technically ambitious than its predecessor, yet even less interested in developing an interesting setting or characters, Extraction 2 takes the most predictable route available for an action sequel. The first film's attempts to center its narrative on the unnecessary loss of life of children is nothing but an inconsequential footnote in this movie—which gestures toward the same ideas but never actually allows its already generic characters to be emotionally affected by anything.

So thank goodness that Extraction 2's action is so frequently fun to watch, proudly wearing its influences from movies like The Raid, and from the most relentless of video game set pieces. There's genuine inspiration behind how creative and how brutal the violence can get here, brought to life by crisp sound design and production design that the characters can constantly interact with. So while all the halfhearted character work doesn't give the action any extra weight, the action on its own is already so dynamic, that every set piece is still worth the wait.

Genre: Action, Thriller

Actor: Adam Bessa, Andro Japaridze, Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bernhardt, Dato Bakhtadze, George Lasha, Golshifteh Farahani, Idris Elba, Irakli Kvirikadze, Justin Howell, Levan Saginashvili, Olga Kurylenko, Patrick Newall, Sam Hargrave, Sinéad Phelps, Tinatin Dalakishvili, Tornike Bziava, Tornike Gogrichiani

Director: Sam Hargrave

Rating: R

Champions is as formulaic as it gets, but it’s impossible not to smile watching it. It’s based on a 2018 Spanish movie of the same name, but it feels a lot like the 2023 Korean movie Dream too. In both (and indeed a lot of other) films, we follow a sad sack antihero who, by virtue of being exposed to less fortunate people, is magically transformed into a good guy who gets all the glory he wished for by the end of the story. You know where it’s headed and you even know how it gets there, so it’s devoid of genuine twists and thrills. But the ways in which it gets there, however familiar, are sometimes funny and heartwarming. If you can stomach the cheesiness and predictability of it all, then Champions comes as an effectively hopeful and feel-good film that’s worth tuning into if you want a light laugh. Otherwise, it's all familiar fluff you can skip for better fare.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Aaron Hughes, Alex Hintz, Alexandra Castillo, Alicia Johnston, Ashton Gunning, Barbara Pollard, Champ Pederson, Cheech Marin, Clint Allen, Cory Wojcik, Eddy Norman, Ernie Hudson, Heath Vermette, Jacob Blair, Jalen Rose, Jean-Jacques Javier, Joshua Felder, Kaitlin Olson, Kevin Iannucci, Lauren Cochrane, Lois Brothers, Madison Tevlin, Matt Cook, Mike Smith, Ryan DeLong, Ryder Dueck, Scott Van Pelt, Seán Cullen, Stephanie Sy, Vance Halldorson, Woody Harrelson

Director: Bobby Farrelly

Rating: PG-13

After Nimona's long journey to the big screen (involving the shutdown of animation studio Blue Sky, and Disney's resistance to LGTBQ+ themes), the fact that the movie has been completed and allowed to tell its story at all is something to be celebrated. The film itself is pretty standard fare for American children's animation, with a script that spends far too much time on quips, and visuals that don't take advantage of the movie's science-fantasy world. But if you can get beyond its more ordinary aspects, Nimona becomes a surprisingly thorough metaphor of Otherness and queerness—best represented in the title character's shapeshifting abilities, and how people fear and become violent with her before even trying to understand her. It's a film that's sadly become more relevant than ever now, addressing how prejudice is something that's taught and passed down, packaged in an easy, entertaining manner for younger audiences.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Science Fiction

Actor: Beck Bennett, Chloë Grace Moretz, Cindy Slattery, Eugene Lee Yang, Frances Conroy, Indya Moore, Jarrett Bruno, Julio Torres, Karen Ryan, Lorraine Toussaint, Matthew J. Munn, ND Stevenson, Nick Bruno, Riz Ahmed, RuPaul, Sarah Sherman, Tim Nordquist, Troy Quane

Director: Nick Bruno, Troy Quane

Rating: PG

While marketed as a family drama, Long Live Love! plays out more like a romance film between parents Sati and Meta. Where Meta has dived in, and accepted her role as a wife and mother, former model Sati still clings to the immature lifestyle he’s used to, to the glimmers of fame that he used to have. The premise is genius– there’s something poetic in the way someone who’s constantly obsessed with the look of a photo now has to go on the quest for its behind-the-scenes. There’s something here that questions previous portrayals of toxic masculinity and of marriage primarily because of how they’ll be perceived. However, there seems to be some missing sequences that could have made the ending more devastating.

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Actor: Araya A. Hargate, Becky Armstrong, Bhumibhat Thavornsiri, Kittiphak Thongauam, Niti Chaichitathorn, Nopachai Jayanama, Panissara Arayaskul, Pannawit Phattanasiri, Paweenut Pangnakorn, Rebecca Patricia Armstrong, Sadanont Durongkhaweroj, Sunny Suwanmethanon, Thanakorn Chinakul

Director: Piyakarn Butprasert

Seven years after Zootopia, Pixar takes another crack at a racial prejudice metaphor — but, while the analogy is less creaky here, it’s still an awkward one, as diametrically opposed elements like fire and water stand in for human beings. The gaping flaws in its central concept aside, Elemental does wring something compelling out of its story: an exploration of second-generation immigrant guilt.

That might seem like an oddly specific and complex topic for what is ostensibly a kids’ film to grapple with, but this is the Pixar of Soul and Bao, not Finding Nemo and Toy Story. Ember (Leah Lewis) is an anthropomorphized young flame whose parents migrated from their home in Fireland to run a store in the NYC-like melting pot of Element City; she’s keenly aware of the sacrifices they made to give her a better life and believes the only way to repay them is to abandon her own dreams and run their store. This is the one part of Elemental’s metaphor that really lands, but it’s unfortunately sidelined to make way for an inter-elemental romance between Ember and a water-man that only pulls the focus back onto the film’s biggest weakness. Still, its emotional specificity and beautiful animation prevent it from being a total washout.

Genre: Animation, Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Romance

Actor: Alex Kapp, Catherine O'Hara, Joe Pera, Jonathan Adams, Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Mason Wertheimer, Matthew Yang King, P.L. Brown, Ronnie del Carmen, Ronobir Lahiri, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Wilma Bonet

Director: Peter Sohn

Big George Foreman ticks all the boxes of what a biopic should be. It shows us his troubled childhood, his bumpy rise to the top, and his eventual reconciliation with fame and boxing. It’s also nicely shot and polished, an accurately dressed period piece that looks and feels the part. But nothing about the film hits you as particularly new or exciting. Prickly topics like faith and infidelity aren’t so much explored as they are simply covered, and the dialogue sounds like something you’ve heard a thousand times. There’s also a sense that the filmmakers noticed this problem because halfway through, the movie switches into a more lighthearted tone, as if it were suddenly bored of itself. Sure, Big George Foreman is easy to follow and nice to look at, but its formulaic structure fails to distinguish itself from a long and ever-growing line of sports biopics.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Al Bernstein, Al Sapienza, Anthony Marble, Austin David Jones, Azaria Carter, Barry Hanley, Bill Martin Williams, Billy Slaughter, Brian Ibsen, Deion Smith, Deneen Tyler, Dwayne L. Barnes, Eric Hanson, Erica Tazel, Forest Whitaker, Greg Wattkis, Jasmine Mathews, John Magaro, Jonathan Mercedes, Joshua Wade, Judd Lormand, Julia Lashae, K. Steele, Kei, Khris Davis, Lara Grice, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Madison Dirks, Martin Bats Bradford, Matthew Glave, Matthew Rimmer, Michael Harrity, Michael Papajohn, Philip Fornah, Raion Hill, Robert Cicchini, Robert Larriviere, Sam Trammell, Samantha Beaulieu, Shein Mompremier, Sonja Sohn, Sullivan Jones, T.C. Matherne, Tom Virtue

Director: George Tillman Jr.

Rating: PG-13