Bumblebee is a sci-fi action film directed by Travis Knight. It is the sixth instalment in the live-action Transformers movie franchise and, thankfully, the first not to be directed by Michael Bay. The movie stars Pamela Adlon, John Ortiz, James Drucker, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Cena and Hailee Steinfeld. Angela Bassett, Dylan O’Brien, Justin Theroux and Peter Cullen also star in voice roles.
The story of Bumblebee is set in 1987 where the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons on Cybertron is reaching a critical point. Bumblebee (Dylan O’Brien) is tasked by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), heroic leader of the Autobots, to establish a base on Earth.
After taking severe damage, Bumblebee seeks refuge in California and is discovered by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenager still struggling with the loss of her father. Charlie and Bumblebee forge a friendship and work together to achieve Bumblebee’s mission and protect Earth from the Decepticon threat.
My Expectation For Bumblebee
While not exactly the pinnacle of cinema, I will always have a soft spot for Transformers and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The same cannot be said for the abysmal Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Age of Extinction. In fact, I hated the latter so much that I did not bother seeing Transformers: The Last Knight. Judging from the reviews for The Last Knight, that was probably for the best.
So, five films in and my enthusiasm for the Transformers film series was completely gone. That was the case until the marketing campaign for Bumblebee began. I saw promising signs from the trailers that Travis Knight could bring his brilliant work on Kubo and the Two Strings over to Bumblebee and the positive reviews Bumblebee received got me really excited. It was possible that Bumblebee could be the first legitimately good Transformers movie.
My Thoughts On Bumblebee
As it turns out, Bumblebee is indeed the first truly good Transformers film. However, I will say that the best film it could have been was its very first scene. The first scene shows the Cybertronian Civil War and I wished it was the whole movie. I felt that there was some superb action with dramatic weight in this scene and I was kind of gutted that it ended so quickly. Still, the film we got in the end was enjoyable.
As the film progressed, one thing was very clear to me; Bumblebee is not a prequel to the 2007 Transformers film. It is instead a soft reboot of the Transformers movie franchise. Indeed, the credits scene is overwhelming proof of this if anyone needed more confirmation and the credits scene brilliantly sets up sequels to Bumblebee.
The heart and soul of Bumblebee is the relationship between Bumblebee and Charlie and Hailee Steinfeld’s performance is key to the success of this film. Certainly, unlike every other Transformers film, this movie puts character first which was quite refreshing. I also liked the 80s setting and the nostalgic moments deliver whether it was the music or the consistent references to The Breakfast Club.
In terms of influences on this film, you can see how similar Bumblebee is to a movie such as The Iron Giant and, in terms of more improvements over previous Transformers movies, the comedy in this film is much better. This was not a particularly hard thing to accomplish and not every comedic moment delivers, especially with John Cena who was very hit and miss in Bumblebee.
My Final Thoughts On Bumblebee
Nevertheless, in the end, I was relieved at how much I enjoyed Bumblebee and I hope there are sequels because this movie is a good base for more Transformers films to be made. If you had gone sour over the Transformers films as I did, give Bumblebee a chance. I do not think you will regret it.