Bumblebee is the first origins story in the Transformers movie series era, after its revival by Michael Bay in 2007.
The series has always had female characters in some sort of frontline role. If you watched Transformers: The Last Knight, then you definitely didn’t miss the importance of Laura Haddock’s and Isabela Moner’s characters. However, Bumblebee becomes the first in the franchise where the lead is a woman.
Bumblebee (Dylan O'Brien) finds himself having to escape his home planet after an ensuing war following the rebellion by the Autobots against Decepticon leadership which threatens to see all Autobots wiped out. In order to keep hope of the rebellion alive, he is sent to Earth, a planet that is supposed to be so well hidden from his home planet of Cybertron. Bumbleebee lands in a beach town in California in 1987. He takes the form of a beaten 1967 Volkswagen Beetle to hide out from everyone.
When the Beetle is taken to a junk yard by a local collector, Uncle Hank (Len Cariou), Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), a girl from the town who is a motor head, discovers it and asks to acquire it. Being her 18th birthday, uncle Hank gives her the car as a gift. Of course it looks like it needs a lot of work even though it can actually start. So when the girl gets home, she gets down to work on it. But lo and behold, Bumblebee transforms into his robotic self as she is doing the tweaking.
Now Charlie has to explain to him why it would be dangerous for people to know what he is as well as show him how to get around without being noticed. However, it’s not long before Decepticon forces know where he is and they make their way to earth. All these entries of space objects into earth’s atmosphere does not go unnoticed and the US armed forces are also on the robots’ back. The struggle that follows thereafter then sets the tone for a gripping and humorous film with action sequences to match.
The storyline for this movie was really captivating for me. That it revolved around this girl who’s more of a loner and she finds a companion in this robot who has no one else from his planet around, was really the stuff of a bond that you can see happening.
I don’t think there would have been a better lead for this movie than Hailee Steinfeld. She embodied the character of Charlie in such a natural way. Charlie is sassy, submissive, smart, free spirited and has a sense of humour that is sometimes twisted. It had a good balance of emotional displays (love, despair, hope and sadness), humour (spoken, implied or acted) and intriguing car chases, stand offs, shoot outs and hand to hand combat (as far as the robots were concerned).
The movie’s funny points come out in the character of Otis (Jason Drucker) too, Charlie’s little brother. He’s a child who often acts too old for his age to be cool, but usually ends up failing.
John Cena is in his element as Agent Burns, a military operative who does not have any good inclination towards any of the robots, seeing them as advanced weaponry that is a threat to mankind.
I really enjoyed this movie although it left me a little curious as to whether the franchise is now taking a new direction. In Transformers: The Last Knight, it had been shown that Bumblebee had been around on earth prior to the Second World War. This time he’s just setting foot on it in the last years of the 80s. Also, there were a few peripheral characters in the movie that didn’t make sense to me. Charlie has a love interest (crush), that also brings other characters with him to the table…tell me how that goes when you watch the movie; I didn’t get it.
For a planet so hidden, it doesn’t take long for the first Decepticon to find him, which also just seemed to come out of the blues. And another question, is it an inter-galactical thing, the car designs? In Cybertron, Bumblebee is a car.
Anyway, this is a movie that you can watch even with the ladies because screenwriter Christina Hodson made sure it was not just a movie about machines and explosions; there’s an actual story to it. And it is open to any audience, with guidance recommended for the ones below 10 years.
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