In previous Transformers movies, fans have seen beloved robots Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Arcee fight their way out of a huge dilemma. But have you seen the Autobots rhyme with LL Cool J?That’s the energy of Transformers: Rise of the Beast (in theaters), and director Steven Caple his Jr. It puts an overarching twist on the series.
Lucky Brooklyn-born Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) retrieves an artifact belonging to museum researcher Elena Wallace (Dominic Fishback) that can transport the stranded Autobots to their home planet of Cybertron. To be scouted by the Autobots.
The continuation of robot battles (mainly against rival forces called terrorism) gives Caple’s films a singular identity, apart from the dizzying effects and globe-trotting backdrops, which is why the film is an inspiration. It’s got 1990s New York hip-hop.
“The ’90s in general was a certain era, and that’s definitely what we wanted to capitalize on in this film,” Caple said in an audio interview. A sense of the ethos of black culture—fashion, music, and community—is something Caple felt was lacking in many big-budget films of the decade. He said it only exists if you’re watching movies by black directors like John Singleton and Ernest Dickerson, who had a huge impact on Caple.
In order to imbue the film with this nostalgic presence, the production first had to turn part of Montreal into Brooklyn. The effects of gentrification in Brooklyn became a factor in the need for cross-border relocation. The research team looked to Jamel Shabazz’s photography and the TV series “New York Undercover” as visual touchstones for capturing the city’s past aesthetics. They also explored Montreal for street looks that could be Noah’s neighborhood, populating the area with vintage Oldsmobiles, Cavaliers and Acura Legends. A chase shot near the beginning of the film creates a vivid recollection of the era. Noah walks down the street past classic cars, through scenes of people sitting in crates drinking quarter water, and people selling tapes out of their trunks.
Caple and production designer Sean Hayworth credited New York natives Ramos and Fishback for providing the film’s credible notes.
“They will bring in things they remember from childhood — things they liked, the music they listened to, the books they read,” Hayworth said in an interview.
Another texture of the 90’s is presented in a way that is true to the cinematic era. Caple had costume designer Ciara Whaley repeat TV shows like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Living Singles” to inspire Elena’s choker-and-suspender fly look in Fishback. He admitted that he was inspired by it. For Noah’s look, Caple wanted to reference clothing lines that were popular in her decade. “I was very specific about wanting to work with Karl Kanis and Walker Ware. It was gear that we were pushing at the time, but it was also black owned.” he said.
Visual callbacks to the film are essential, but it’s the hip-hop soundtrack that gives “Rise of the Beast” its sonic punch. Music sometimes springs from digestive sources. For example, Fishback suggested that Caple sing to herself whenever Elena was nervous. This is why Elena can be heard singing her TLC’s “Waterfall” like a monologue when the terrorist con break into Elena’s museum.
Radio classic needles also move scenes, such as Digable Planets’ “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” powering a heist sequence in which Noah attempts to steal an Autobot disguised as a Porsche. I have. Other soundtrack samples include ‘The Choice Is Yours’ by Black Sheep, ‘Hypnotize’ by The Notorious BIG, ‘Check the Rhime’ by A Tribe Called Quest, and ‘CREAM’ by Wu-Tang Clan . From New York City to the rolling hills of Peru. In the final battle between the Autobots and Terror Con, LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” delivered a sharp punch and hit the film’s budget.
“It fits very well, but the studio said it was going to be the most expensive song in the movie,” said Caple. “It was so expensive, but it felt so right.”
The soundtrack’s only original song, “On My Soul,” was commissioned by hip-hop legend Nas, featuring Toby Nwigwe (who also plays Noah’s friend Leek) and Jacob Banks. This defiant track not only gives the showdown a solid edge beyond the easy needle-drop groove of yesteryear, but also fuses modern recording techniques with ’90s flair, especially through Nas’ sharp verses. I am letting In an interview, Nwigwe said that Nath “just came in and created something great.”
For Caple, tapping into the 90s hip-hop scene was more than artistically satisfying. It’s a black vision of a city that doesn’t have to be politically significant, even though it presents a particular cultural perspective: music and fashion. And while it’s easy to see Transformers: Rise of the Beast as a nostalgia hunt, Caple doesn’t want to call it a comeback. It’s resurrection.