REVIEW: “Bumblebee”

Paramount Pictures


Photo created by Genevieve Guenther.

Jonathan Montague, Staff Writer

The Transformers franchise, so far helmed by infamous blockbuster director Michael Bay, has been managed to be one of the most financially successful film series of all time, despite well-deserved critical lambasting of nearly every installment. But this time, not only do we have a “prequel” to the franchise based on one of the more popular characters, we have new blood at the helm of this project with stop-motion darling Travis Knight. Does “Bumblebee” deserve the buzz around it or is it a stinging experience for all involved?

The film opens on the final days of the war between the valiant Autobots and the treacherous Decepticons. The Autobots are in retreat and send Bumblebee as a scout to look for a new base, which leads him to Earth circa 1987. There he befriends spunky teen Charlie Watson, who now must work to keep him hidden, not only from the U.S. government, but from the Decepticons who are relentlessly hunting him.

The biggest reason why this Transformers movie is better than all the others, besides the absence of previous racism and misogyny, is the fact that the narrative is actually about the robots just as much as the human characters. They are written just as well and do just as much that does not involve explosions.

However, this film is almost too reminiscent of films such as “E.T.” and “The Iron Giant,” hitting every single beat that those films do without anything new added to the table other than them being Transformers. It is still an entertaining story with decent characters and good comedy, but it could have been a little more original.

It is also unclear if this is a reboot or a prequel, considering how the film ends. We could possibly see a new line of Transformers films that I might actually be excited to see.

December is apparently the month of Hailee Steinfeld as she now has two films in theatres that she crushes it in. She is easily the best performance in the movie, and she has great chemistry with the giant robot who is not actually there. John Cena also turns in some good work as the face of the military presence in the film, capturing the tone of the movie well.

As with most of the Transformers movies, the effects are well done, but the visuals are especially good here because of the designs they use. Not only do they use the Gen I designs from the 80’s, but they also made sure that each Transformer looked distinct, which helped the coherency of the fight scenes.

Overall, “Bumblebee” was a solid new entry into the Transformers franchise, which gives me such pleasure to actually say. A decent, if overdone, story and a sense of fun do wonders for it. Hopefully, this film succeeds and sends a message saying that we want more like it.