Published on December 19th, 2018 | by Michael Newman0
Like most kids growing up in the 80’s the Transformers always held a special place in my heart. I didn’t have a huge collection because the die-cast/plastic vehicles that transformed into robots could get a little expensive. Thankfully the morning cartoons and comic books filled in the spaces where I lacked the toys. When I heard there would be a live action movie based on the characters that had been such a integral part of my childhood, I couldn’t help but feel excited. I had seen some of the previews of the original Transformers movie by Michael Bay, the characters looked different than I imagined, but how bad could it be. The movie started, and heart break ensued, the first one was ok, the second was worse, and so on and so forth to a point where I still have not brought myself to watch the last installment of the Michael Bay franchise. Fast Forward to the first glimpse I had of Bumblebee, a prequel/reboot of the Transformers franchise, and that feeling of trepidation lingered. The first glimmer of hope was when the previews began to show images of the Transformers that I remembered, now referred to as G1 (Generation One), these transformers were recognizable. Still, the stories have always been lacking, so while I held out a glimmer of hope, I was sure to guard my heart closely…after all, we’ve been down this road before.
Bumblebee begins on Cybertron, where the Autobots and Decepticons are battling for control of what is left of the planet. The visuals are stunning, and as I stated before, here our all our favorites from the G1 universe in their recognizable forms. Once I saw Wheeljack, a personal favorite of mine, I felt I was in for something special. The Autobots are losing control to the evil Decepticons and are forced to evacuate Cybertron to regroup. Bumblebee is sent to Earth, a planet where Optimus Prime feels that the Autobots can rendezvous, but also tasked to protect the planet from any encroachment of the Decepticons.
Bumblebee unfortunately crash lands in the middle of a military training exercise and is quickly engaged by the armed forces there. While Bumblebee alone is a match for the Humvees and small arms fire, the battle is quickly joined by a Decepticon who has followed Bumblebee to Earth. He is completely out matched and outgunned it is not long before Bumblebee is defeated and barely escapes with his life. It is here that he is “saved” by Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld) who finds the battered and broken beetle in a junkyard on her birthday, and a deep bond between the two is formed.
Bumblebee does not disappoint in its amazing visuals. The robots are as big as ever, yet now retain a more familiar look. The story still has explosions, and epic one-on-one robot battles that fans of the Michael Bay franchise can enjoy, but it’s the deep and meaningful story where Bumblebee truly shines. Written by Christina Hodson (Shut In/Unforgetable) and Directed by Travis Knight (Kudo and the Two Strings/Paranorman) we are finally given a story with a plot that fans of the series can get behind and enjoy. It’s not to say that the story is perfect, there are still the occasional lines that fall into groan-worthy territory, but to say that Bumblebee surpasses the previous live action movies is an understatement.
You don’t have to be a fan (or have any familiarity at all) with the Transformer toys, cartoon, or live action movies to enjoy it. However, for those who have been fortunate (or unfortunate) to experience them all will appreciate the subtle nods to previous films. The audience clapped and cheered when Stan Bush’s well-known Transformer song The Touch exploded on screen. Sure, it’s a spoiler, but for those who are still reluctant to see it based on previous films, maybe it’s exactly what’s needed. The film is littered with such nods and die-hard Transformer fans are in for a real treat.
The acting in the film is top-notch, not only by Hailee Steinfeld and Jorge Lendeborg Jr who are the main human characters, but by the supporting characters as well. John Cena brings his witty one-liners and Peter Cullen once again reprises his role of the now infamous Optimus Prime. For a movie that seems more at home as a summer blockbuster, it carries with it a tremendous amount of heart. Even Bumblebee who rarely utters a word throughout the entire film, brings out emotion in his facial expressions, or movements.
I’ll admit that going into Bumblebee I had my reservations and for those who have been burned by previous iterations of the series it’s a completely understandable concern. I’ll say it here though, Bumblebee is a terrific Transformers movie, easily on-par with the animated film, which to date had been the only Transformer movie worth talking about. Fans of the franchise will not be disappointed, and probably like myself, will be naming the numerous Transformers on the screen, by how they look…not by what they are called. In the famous words of Optimus Prime…Autobots Roll-out, and go see Bumblebee, coming to theaters on December 21st.
4.5 out of 5 Stars
Second review By Barnetty Kushner
What happens when you keep Michael Bay away from the director’s chair? Bay has been the driving force of the extremely successful Transformers franchise for the past decade. Spending more time on fight scenes, explosions, and pushing the CGI envelope, rather than character development and story.
After a disappointing box office turnout and reviews from Transformers Last Knight, it’s no surprise the movie studio would look to switch gears and try to salvage what they can by giving our beloved Bumblebee his own movie.
The film, set in the 80s, a prequel to the previous films, starts off with an epic battle scene taken place on planey Cybertron, between the Autobots and the Decepticons. After a major defeat by the Autobots, B-127 is sent to Earth by Optimus Prime to set up a new base for the Autobots. It isn’t long after B-127’s arrival he is attacked by military force led by Jack Burns (John Cena). He then engages in battle with a Decepticon and becomes injured so badly, his voice box is damaged, he cannot speak. He’s forced to transform into a Beetle, and go into hiding.
It’s 2 years later, B-127 is discovered in a junkyard by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenager struggling to move on after her father’s death. Harboring major resentment towards her mother, who lives a new life with a new man. To Charlie, life is pretty terrible. Working at a corn dog stand, tormented by the popular kids, and unable to fix the Mustang she and her father had been working on before he suddenly dies from a heart attack.
Shortly after Charlie is gifted the yellow Beetle by the junkyard owner, she discovers her Beetle is more than meets the eye. She accidentally activates his robotic form and comes finds out soon enough that we are not alone in this galaxy. In an attempt to try to communicate, Charlie teaches her new friend how to communicate with the power of music from the cassette/radio deck on the car and gives him a new name……….Bumblebee.
When Charlie activated Bumblebee, it also sent a signal to the Decepticons to Bumblebee’s location. The Decepticons head straight for Earth with the sole purpose of deceiving the humans and using their intel to invade Earth.
A crowd pleasing film full of heart! It’s less about a giant robot, explosions, and battles. And, more about friendship, loyalty, and doing the right thing. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of action packed, CGI induced, explosive moments to keep you entertained. However, there was much more emphasis on human/alien interpersonal relationship, and a worthy script that tugs at the heartstrings. I do believe the franchise has been saved. The question is, what’s next?!
5 out of 5 stars