When the Autobots are forced to abandon Cybertron, Bumblebee is sent to hide on Earth. There he is 'acquired' by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), who upon discovering there's more to her new car than meets the eye, attempts to teach Bumblebee to blend in. The problem is, Bee isn't the only Cybertronian on Earth. And when the Decepticons learn of his presence, they strike an uneasy alliance with the US government in order to find him.
Travis Knight has done something very different with this prequel to Michael Bay's Transformers movies, he actually made a good movie. More than that, he made an 80's movie, in more ways than one. Bumblebee is a fun and heart-warming story about friendship, one that also happens to feature shape-shifting robots. Where Michael Bay's entries in the franchise are all about the spectacle and big explosions, Knight has injected some story and interesting characters into the mix - not to mention some actual acting. Hailee Steinfeld does a great job as troubled teen, Charlie. A performance made all the more impressive by her genuine chemistry with Bumblebee. And the Kubo and the Two Strings director didn't forget the 80's cheese either, something the movie nails, some of John Cena's lines would make even Rambo cringe!
By reducing the scale and focusing on fewer characters, Bumblebee has struck the right balance of story and action. It's just as fun watching Charlie try to teach Bumblebee to fit in, as it is seeing Autobots and Decepticons go head to head. And don't think that just because Michael Bay isn't directing, the action will be a little lacklustre. It may not be "Bayhem" - and not a lot of things are - but Bumblebee has its fair share of exciting action too. Lets just say, the poor little guy has a pretty tough time of it, going up against some new Decepticons; Shatter (Angela Bassett), Dropkick (Justin Theroux) and Blitzwing (David Sobolov). That said, it's great to see some of the other Transformers in their original form. Bay and his team did do a great job of modernising the characters, but you can't beat the classics.
It's interesting to note that as a prequel, Bumblebee doesn't quite fit with the other movies. There are certain discrepancies, something I know prequels are known for - look at Star Wars. But it's as if the filmmakers were going for some sort of soft reboot, in an attempt to distance this from the ridiculous "Bayhem" that came before. And do you know what? I'm ok with that. I had lost interest in this franchise about three movies ago, but I would be happy to see more from this new look Transformers franchise, especially if Travis Knight and Christina Hodson stay on.
Bumblebee is a light-hearted, fun, 80's style adventure. It's an interesting new approach to a Transformers movie, one that works a whole lot better than Michael Bay's bombastic movies. The plucky little Autobot was the perfect character on which to focus what will hopefully be the first in a new line of Transformers movies. Bee's popularity with fans, not to mention his quirky nature and the touching relationship he strikes up with Charlie give the movie some real heart. Something the franchise was definitely lacking.
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