The next installment in the Transformers franchise will take the property in a bold new direction. When Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, the seventh movie in the series, hits the schedule of 2023 movie releases, it will be the first to introduce classic '90s CGI cartoon Beast Wars characters like Optimus Primal and Mirage into the live-action universe. With a fresh take and a new director at the helm, fans are eagerly anticipating what the film has in store, and how a new team of creatives continue the franchise. For director Steven Caple Jr., that team included OG series director Michael Bay, albeit via Zoom. That’s right, the Rise of the Beasts director explained how Bay helped with the upcoming movie.
Caple is no stranger to stepping into already realized worlds, seeing as how he was responsible for directing Creed II, taking over responsibilities from the director of the first movie Ryan Coogler. In a recent interview with THR, Caple opened up about the challenges of bringing the world of Transformers to life on the big screen, and how he turned to Bay for guidance as he tried to put his spin on the material. The filmmaker revealed:
You want to make sure you’re in your creative bubble when trying to design this world and build out the franchise, but similar to when I stepped into the Creed franchise, you call the ones who have done it before you, whether it be Sylvester Stallone or Ryan Coogler.
For Caple, one of the biggest challenges was navigating the world of visual effects, a new area for him as a filmmaker. So who better to turn to than the man responsible for directing the first five installments? According to The Land director, Bay was able to offer valuable insights and advice regarding VFX as he prepared for the project. Caple continued:
I hit up Michael Bay, who’s, of course, a producer on this project. He was making Ambulance at the time, but he still picked up the phone and hopped onto Zoom. And a lot of it was like, ‘How do I deal with visual effects?’ because that’s a new area for me. So it was a huge learning curve, and it was like going through school again, if you will. Monday through Friday, I was prepping for the film, and Saturday, Sunday, I was learning a lot from the visual effects supervisor and calls with Michael Bay. He gave hints and tips on how to accomplish certain things, so you’ve definitely gotta hit those guys up who’ve done it before me. It helps.
In addition to what we already know about Rise of the Beasts, Caple revealed that the movie takes place in 1994, seven years after the events of Travis Knight’s critically well-received Bumblebee, which was set in the '80s. The Autobots are joined by new allies, the Maximals, and face new foes, the Terrorcons, led by the planet-eating Unicron (played by Colman Domingo). Director Steven Caple Jr.’s goal for the movie is to elicit emotions from the audience towards both new and familiar Transformers characters. He is excited for fans to see the film, which he hopes will create a solid foundation for the franchise going forward. He told the publication:
I’m not here to just create robots for you to say, ‘Yeah, that was cool. That was fun.’ I want you to be like, ‘I really truly care about [Optimus] Primal. I really truly care about Airazor and these other characters,’ because this is the foundation for what I would love the franchise to be going forward. And a lot of the stuff in this film is a huge setup for where the franchise can go, so I’m excited for people to check that out.
Fans of the beloved '80s series may be concerned about how the new film will fit in with the existing canon, but with a bit of guidance from Bay on VFX, Caple’s unique vision aims to balance honoring the past and forging its own path. It’s hard to say where Rise of the Beasts will rank amongst the other Transformers movies, but with Caple at the helm, it seems the film is in good hands and is poised for exciting possibilities in the future.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is currently slated for release on June 7, 2023, and fans can expect plenty of action, excitement, and yes, robots in disguise. While you wait for the Autobots and Maximals to “roll out” into your local theater, consider revisiting 2018's Bumblebee, which is streaming for anyone with a Paramount+ subscription.