The prequel to the Transformers franchise is a transformation worth seeing. Bumblebee is the sixth film in the franchise for the Robots in Disguise, and serves as a prequel to 2007’s Transformers. Based on the Hasbro Transformers toyline, Bumblebee is the first in the series without Michael Bay serving as director. This time, the Paramount Pictures distributed film has Travis Knight in the director’s chair with a screenplay provided by Christina Hodson, and stars Hailee Steinfield, John Cena and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. The film centers around Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfield), a teenage girl who finds and befriends the titular Autobot. Spoilers after the trailer.
The Transformers franchise finally got it right with Bumblebee, it’s the freshest film since the very first one from 2007, and arguably the best in the franchise. Taking place in 1987, Bumblebee packs on the nostalgia from the get-go, there’s Mr. T’s cereal, and if you were to take a shot for every shot of nostalgia then you would have to get your liver pumped. This is Travis Knight’s first outing as the director of a live action film, all his previous films were animated, and he uses his previous experience to illustrate a vivid world. The biggest issue the previous five films have (outside of cohesiveness) is that it’s hard to tell who’s who when the Autobots are fighting the Decepticons. Knight fixes that problem when they are fighting on Cybertron it looks like they brought the cartoon to life. Optimus Prime makes a cameo,and he doesn’t look like a talking-walking meshed piece of robotic metal like most of the Michael Bay movies. The two main villains are the Decepticons Shatter (Angela Bassett) and Dropkick (Justin Theroux), Their colors are vibrant and it’s paired perfectly with Bassett and Theroux’s performances, because both seemed like they were having fun in this one. Bumblebee’s animation throughout the film was filled with personality and his facial expressions add a whole dimension to his character.
The yellow Autobot had an E.T. like charm to him. Speaking of E.T., the Spielberg film had to be an inspiration for screenwriter Christina Hodson because this film felt like that mixed with The Iron Giant. To her credit this is a big reason the movie has such an 80s feel. When the film opens Bumblebee is a badass, but as the story between him and his human friend Charley Watson (Hailee Steinfield) progress, the emotional investment between the characters grows. Bumblebee transforms its titular character from a scout soldier to a pet, back into a combat machine, and for the most part it makes a fun film. There’s times where Bee is a little too goofy to take serious and it makes you scratch your head. The scene that fits the profile of that is when Bumblebee almost demolishes Charlie’s house. The movie makes up for that with its heartfelt moments when the loner Charlie explains why she feels like an outcast and has been rebelling ever since her padre passed away. When the popular girls from her school makes fun of her dead dad, it’s a major eye roll in the movie, because these characters really do not serve a point in the film outside of making the audience dislike them. Charlie and Bumblebee have a comedy scene where they get revenge and those popular girls are never seen again.
WWE wrassler turned actor John Cena plays the bad guy in Bumblebee. He is agent Jack Burns, a former U.S. Army Ranger who becomes an agent for Sector 7, an organization that wants to capture all the robots in disguise. When Burns has an encounter with Bumblebee at the beginning of the film it leaves him with a scare on his face. At first, this was a red flag because the movie does a closeup on it, and it’s like, are we really ’bout to have a villain with a scare down the side of his face to emphasize that he’s evil during the whole film? Luckily, the film did not go that route. Cena has some funny lines, and he’s the only one to call out Dropkick and Shatter for possibly being evil because they introduced themselves as Decepticons. This was an impressive way for the film to know that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, like other movies in the superhero genre do. Jorge Lendeborg Jr. portrays Memo, he is an outcast and a nerd, but he has a huge crush on Charlie. The film tries to convince us that he’s shy and self-conscious by juxtaposing him with a popular guy that goes to his school, yet it’s not very effective because the only thing noticeably different about Memo is that he has an afro. His relationship with Charlie does seem organic, and they even make funny joke at the end about the events that happen.
Bumblebee is the nectar of the Transformers franchise. The characters had personality and there were action scenes that meant something instead of a bunch of explosions exploding just to explode (Michael Bay would love that sentence). In only 114 minutes, Travis Knight made the most out of it, and it’s a shame that this movie isn’t doing numbers like some of the previous films. That may be because of Transformers fatigue and Paramount Pictures may have over saturated the market in such a short time. This film was the second strong performance for lead actress Hailee Steinfield in December of 2018. If you’re looking for something with nostalgia, robotic humanoid cars fighting, or a feel good story then this one I would recommend seeing on the big screen.
[a si a si]
[All Mames Wey]
Bumblebee was released in theaters on December 21, 2018.
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