“Bumblebee” stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Jason Drucker, Kenneth Choi, Rachel Crow, and Pamela Adlon. Releasing on December 21, 2018, the film is about a teenager who discovers a rusty Volkswagen Beetle that is actually an alien robot in disguise.
The film is directed by Travis Knight, who is mostly known for directing “Kubo and the Two Strings”. It is the sixth installment in the Transformers film series, and it is a prequel to the 2007 film, “Transformers”. It’s been more than ten years since action director Michael Bay brought the Transformers to the big screen for a new generation of fans. While the 2007 live-action adaptation and its sequels weren’t critical masterpieces, they were able to bring in some major cash as well as keeping the brand alive. After the franchise’s latest sequel, “The Last Knight”, failed to gross as much as its predecessors, along with receiving more disgusting reviews than the ones for “Revenge of the Fallen”, Paramount and Hasbro finally noticed that it’s time for a new direction. As a result, we have ourselves a prequel centering on everyone’s favorite Autobot (besides Optimus Prime). If you’ve been following my live-action Transformers reviews, you would already notice that I’ve been a respectable follower of the franchise since I first saw the 2007 film. Even though I understand that they’re not completely flawless, I still enjoy watching them for its visuals and action sequences, and yes, as crazy as it sounds, I still don’t think “The Last Knight” was that bad. When I found out that they’re making a film about Bumblebee, my anticipation levels went straight to the top because he’s been one of my favorite “Transformers” characters for quite some time. What made me even more excited for it is that they brought in Travis Knight, the guy behind one of my favorite animated films of 2016, to direct the film. This is something that the die-hard “Transformers” fans have been waiting for because not only does it take place in the 1980s, which was when the “Transformers” animated series made its debut, but it’s also attempting to capture the same amount of charm and wonder that the first “Transformers” film was known for. Now you’re probably wondering how the heck I was able to see this film two weeks before its official release. Well, I was able to attend an advanced public screening of “Bumblebee” that was being held at my closest cinema yesterday, which was something that I couldn’t pass up. With that said, this will be a non-spoiler review in case any of you readers want to experience it for yourself when it comes out. Now let’s roll out and see if this film can save this franchise from turning into scrap metal.
As I mentioned before, the film takes place 20 years before the young Autobot scout first encountered Sam Witwicky in the 2007 film, which means that you’ll get to experience plenty of 80s nostalgia throughout the story. Without giving too much away, when you combine the elements of the “Transformers” G1 series with a plot that is inspired by the likes of “E.T.” and “The Iron Giant”, you get “Bumblebee”, a film that ditches the over-the-top mayhem from the last five installments and serves as a more contained sci-fi blockbuster that relies on action and storytelling. You read it right, G1 fans, you can start throwing your worries out the window because Travis Knight just made the best “Transformers” film since the 2007 live-action film. Not only does the film offer plenty of moments that will certainly please a good amount of “Transformers” fans, but it was able to provide a heartwarming and irresistible story about friendship without sacrificing the elements that made me enjoy the franchise in the first place. It can get a bit formulaic at times, but it’s something that I’m willing to forgive because it never lost sight of being a fun and energetic film that the whole family can enjoy without worrying about the adult humor that was portrayed in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”. Speaking of which, for those who are worried about the film’s use of humor, you don’t have to worry about that either because it was both light-hearted and hilarious. There were actually a couple of moments that made me laugh hysterically like the hyenas from “The Lion King”. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what they are because spoilers. Most of the humor comes from Bumblebee and his sense of innocence and curiosity during his first adventure on Earth, which is something that made the other human-meets-alien films so special to everyone, and I thought Travis Knight displayed it perfectly. Another aspect of the film that I enjoyed was the cast, with Hailee Steinfeld being the main highlight as Charlie Watson. She offered just enough depth in her character to make me relate to her, and the chemistry between her and Bumblebee was pure magic. John Cena also had some good moments as one of the agents of Sector 7 and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. is really tolerable as Charlie’s friend. The visual effects were once again remarkable in terms of the simplistic robot designs and the action sequences. At first, I was a bit worried at how they’re going to handle the action sequences without Michael Bay, but after watching it for myself, my worries just flew away like a pack of doves. Like the other “Transformers” films, the action in “Bumblebee” is intense, hard-hitting, and extremely entertaining.
Overall, “Bumblebee” is just as fun and action-packed as the last five “Transformers” films. The major difference is that there’s a superb amount of heart laying underneath its robotic core. In terms of its storytelling, this is, without a doubt, the best installment in the live-action franchise. The performances were good, the plot was extremely sweet and predictable, the visuals were top-notch, the humor was well-directed, and the action was really enjoyable. It’s not designed to be an Oscar contender or anything like that. It’s designed to be a fun and heartfelt popcorn film, and from my personal perspective, it’s exactly what it is and I wasn’t disappointed. Special thanks to Paramount for allowing me, along with everybody else, to experience this wonderful blockbuster two weeks early. If you’re a fan of the “Transformers” brand, I can assure you that you’ll have a great time with this film.