REVIEW: ‘Bumblebee’ Re-Energizes the Transformers Franchise

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Bumblebee

Every so often, an ongoing film franchise will get an entry that not only re-energizes it as a whole but reminds you why you fell in love with it in the first place. For Star Wars it was The Force Awakens. For DC films it was Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Now, the Transformers franchise has Bumblebee.

Taking place in 1987, Bumblebee finds our titular character rocketing to Earth after the fall of Cybertron. After a fight with a Decepticon leaves him speechless (literally) and his memories damaged, the young Autobot ends up taking the form of a yellow VW Beetle. It is here that he runs into Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenager who is feeling lost after the death of her father.

Charlie and Bumblebee become fast friends but soon have to deal with the threat of the Decepticon Triple Changers, Shatter and Dropkick (Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux respectively) who convince the agents of Sector Seven, led by no-nonsense Agent Burns (John Cena) that Bumblebee is a war criminal.

From the start, Bumblebee is easily leaps and bounds above the previous Transformers movies. Much of this is due to director Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) who not only understands the Transformers mythos far better than Michael Bay ever did but also manages to inject the film with heart, especially when it comes to the relationship between Charlie and Bumblebee.

The two constantly learn from each other-he learns how to “speak” when she fixes his radio, and she finds the walls she’s put up crashing down. Steinfeld continues to prove that she is one of the most underrated young actresses out there-she can go from angry to ecstatic to heartbroken on the flip of a dime and she sells it.

The rest of the supporting cast fares well; Cena is a surprisingly gifted comic performer (the film’s best line has him asking if robots named “Decepticons” are really trustworthy) and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. is wonderfully charming as Charlie’s neighbor Memo. While Theroux taps into his inner sadist as Dropkick, Bassett’s Shatter is hypnotically sinister, she could give Megatron a run for his money.

The film also manages to be a treat both for fans of the Transformers universe, as the Cybertron scenes feel like an episode of the Generation One cartoon sprung to life. While Bumblebee and the Triple Changers have the lion’s share of focus, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) has quite a few epic moments and plays a major role in the plot. Fans should also keep their eyes peeled for a number of familiar Autobots and Decepticons along the way.

Bumblebee is juggling a lot of balls; not only is it the sixth Transformers film, but it must also act as a prequel to the first film and a soft reboot for the franchise in general. It succeeds due to a talented director who loves the source material, a well-rounded cast, and an abundance of heart. If you love Transformers, this is the film for you.


Bumblebee
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

Bumblebee is juggling a lot of balls; not only is it the sixth Transformers film, but it must also act as a prequel to the first film and a soft reboot for the franchise in general. It succeeds due to a talented director who loves the source material, a well-rounded cast, and an abundance of heart. If you love Transformers, this is the film for you.