Weekend film reviews: ‘Rise of the Beasts,’ ‘Flamin’ Hot’

In the latest “Transformers” installment, Optimus Prime and the Autobots team up with the Maximals to fight a new threat that could destroy Earth. Credit: YouTube.

The latest film releases include “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” “The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster,” “Lynch/Oz,” and “Flamin' Hot.” KCRW gets reviews from Carlos Aguilar, film reviewer for the Los Angeles Times and AV Club, and Christy Lemire, film critic for RogerEbert.com and co-host of the YouTube channel “Breakfast All Day.” 

“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts”

The latest in the franchise picks up where “Bumblebee” left off. Optimus Prime and the Autobots team up with the Maximals to fight a new threat that could destroy Earth. 

Lemire: “This movie is a lot better than most ‘Transformers’ movies, primarily because Michael Bay did not direct it. This is directed by Steven Caple Jr., who did the second ‘Creed’ movie. And so there's actual visual coherence here that is lacking in most ‘Transformers’ movies, because when you have big, chunky pieces of metal slamming into each other, you want to actually be able to see what's going on and understand it. And that does indeed happen here. 

Also, this relies more on human beings, actual people at the center of all this. And Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback are both very likable. He plays this former military electronics expert. She is this young, up-and-coming artifacts expert at a museum on Ellis Island. And they are both young people of color who are marginalized and disenfranchised and underestimated by the white power of the beasts. The fact that they are the ones who take charge and help save the planet is crucial here.”

“The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster”

This follows an intelligent teenager who believes that death can be cured. She tries to bring her brother back to life after he was brutally murdered. 

Aguilar: “This was an interesting movie that takes that basic premise of Frankenstein and some horror tropes, and applies them to a very socially-conscious context. … The protagonist is a teenager who lives in a part of town that's ridden by violence and drugs. … But she attends a school for gifted students in a mostly white [student] body. So she's divided between these two things. … And so, she being a gifted student who is particularly inclined in medicine and the human body — decides to become essentially a body snatcher to reconstruct the body of her brother and bring him back to life.”

Lemire: “It's got a lot of mood. … Maybe relies too heavily on jump scares. There’s a whole lot of repetitive and predictable screechie jump scares. But he achieves quite a bit in terms of creating tension [with] the low budget here. The performances are all very good.”


This documentary covers David Lynch and his obsession with “The Wizard of Oz.”

Lemire: “It is so much more than you initially think it might be. I mean, superficially, it’s about how ‘The Wizard of Oz’ has influenced David Lynch over the years, in ways that are obvious and maybe superficial, like the use of red shoes quite frequently. But then it's these six different chapters, each of which examines a different way in which Lynch and ‘The Wizard of Oz’ are connected. And then the ripples that reverberate out from that.”

Aguilar: “I liked it a lot. I do feel like at times, it is a collection of video essays, in essence, narrated by different people and hyper focused on aspects of Lynch's filmography as it relates to ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”

“Flamin' Hot”

This origin story shows how a janitor named Richard Montanez created the popular spicy snack, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. It stars Jesse Garcia and Tony Shalhoub and is directed by Eva Longoria. 

Lemire: “The way it’s depicted here, [Montanez] pitched his idea for what would ultimately become Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to the head of FritoLay, played by Tony Shalhoub. It is playful. It has some lively transitions. It's very safe and kind of silly and kind of cheesy at times. No pun intended. I didn't even mean that. As the word left my mouth, I felt bad about it. I really did. It's a pleasant diversion.” 

Aguilar: “I also feel like the movie, at times, is a little too reverential to FritoLay and the company saying, ‘Look at this amazing company that listened to one of their workers.’ Some things are very questionable about it, but in general, it was far more enjoyable than I expected it to be, and it does have some visual and narrative flourishes that’s elevated from your usual biopic.”