The days of the Michael Bay Transformers movies is over. Bumblebee is a breath of fresh air, a heartfelt adventure from start to finish. It’s ET meets The Iron Giant.
On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.
You know that old saying right. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Well, what about five times? Okay, maybe just four. But since 2007 we have gotten five Transformers movies, all of which haven’t been met with the most positive reviews. The problem was, these movies were the definition of box-office gold. Gold Jerry, gold! The world had finally had enough after Transformers: The Last Knight, which bombed at the box-office, the studio execs over at Paramount decided it was time for a change. I’ll admit that I really enjoy the first Transformers and think it still holds up, but after four really bad sequels, I believe it kind of gets looped in with the rest of them. This isn’t about those movies, not anymore, it’s now about everyone’s second favorite Autobot, Bumblebee.
When the screen faded to black after all the previews and commercials, we are instantly transported to Cybertron, and let me tell you this. Not only is this the best opening scene of any movie in 2018, but it could be the best movie sequence in 2018. It’s everything us fans have wanted since 2007, it was Transformers perfection. Seriously I can’t stress enough how incredible the first 15 minutes of Bumblebee is. Travis Knight is responsible for directing this new addition to the Transformers universe, or maybe it’s the reset button on the whole thing, no one knows quite yet. Coming off Kubo & The Two Strings, people were giving this movie a chance. They played it smart, they scaled down the destruction, they simplified the plot, and they made the Transformers fun again. Bumblebee is an 80’s callback, which they love to remind the audience about every few minutes or so. I was okay with that, it doesn’t take away from the movie at all, and all the references were incorporated nicely. Unless you want to be a prick about things and say certain songs hadn’t be released before the summer of 87, then yeah go ahead a do that.
So Bumblebee takes place in the summer of 87′. He has fled Cybertron in hopes of setting up a base on Earth. He takes refuge in a junkyard and has been in hiding. Until Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) finds him on her birthday and is able to take her home with her. She soon finds out that the yellow beetle is more than meets the eye. Steinfeld is a fantastic lead, much like Shia LaBeouf in the first Transformers, she’s quirky, and plays off Bee really well. Transforming in front of her very eyes, Charlie at first doesn’t know how to react but quickly realizes that much like herself, her new friend is scared and alone. You see, Charlie is a bit of an outcast herself and has secluded herself away from her friends and family ever since her Dad died from a heart attack. So this is kind of like a match made in heaven. Charlie helps Bee find his voice, while Bee helps Charlie feel like herself again. This is where the movie feels like an 80’s adventure. I mentioned ET and The Iron Giant, and honestly, that is like the perfect marriage. A lot of hijinks ensues, involving a large robot trying to fit into tiny places. Charlie eventually crosses paths with Memo (Jorge Lendeborg JR) literally the boy next door who helps Charlie and Bee keep safe from Sector 7 and Agent Burns (John Cena). Did anyone else know John Cena was in this movie? Because I couldn’t see him – sorry had to make that joke. In his first real big Hollywood role, I thought Cena was fine. In fact, he was pretty great in some scenes and provided a lot of the comedic relief in the film. He made for a formidable foe. The real standout villain in my mind and someone who wasn’t even in the movie, it was the voice work by Angela Bassett who voiced Shatter. Give some credit to Justin Theroux as well who voices Dropkick, her Decepticon side-kick.
Unlike preview incarnations where it was really hard to see the action going on in front of you, Travis Knight managed to make the action easy to follow. That was always one of the nitpicks with previous movies, you could never tell who was fighting who or just what the hell was going on. When our robots are throwing down, it’s fun to watch, and they were able to improve on something that was already awesome to watch on the big screen. All of the music is great, and the score is even better. Without a doubt, one of the best scores of 2018. Everything just flowed so well, the pacing is near perfect and the movie hits all the right beats. Emotionally and physically, when you wanted action, you got it, and when you just wanted to watch Bumblebee do stupid things, you got it. There’s a scene where he tries to tee-pee a house, and it’s hilarious. I just found myself having a good time throughout, something I have wanted to do with all the Transformers movies. They brought it back to its roots, and it felt like the 80’s cartoon come to life. If you have been disappointed with the other movies in this franchise, this will put a smile on your face, and if you have enjoyed them, guess what? This movie will put a smile on your face, it’s kind of a win-win situation here. I really hope this is the start of something special and the overhaul this franchise needed. Can’t say enough good things about Bumblebee.
Check ya later
Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Bumblebee = 91/100