Sunday, December 30, 2018

Movie Review: "Bumblebee" (2018)

Director: Travis Knight
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

As a battle rages on Cybertron, Bumblebee, a member of the Autobot resistance, is sent to earth to protect it as a fallback base. When he arrives there, he is attacked and damaged, causing him to lose his memory and his voicebox. He is found by a teenager named Charlie, who befriends him, but when the Decepticons come looking for him, it puts Charlie in danger.

Bumblebee 2018 movie Hailee Steinfeld
"People can be terrible about things they can't understand." (Image Source)
It wasn't long ago that we swore we would never watch another "Transformers" movie in the cinema. The decade-long franchise is known for its overblown, overlong, boring stories, its messy action, and its insane amounts of product placements. With Michael Bay now giving the franchise to someone new, at least for the time being, we entered yet another "Transformers" movie with new-found hope and cautious optimism. "Bumblebee" is directed by Travis Knight, who is known for directing the fabulous stop-motion animated feature "Kubo and the Two Strings." It is written by Christina Hodson, who has a terrible track record with scripts, penning the ironically titled "Unforgettable" and the horrible slog of a thriller called "Shut In." "Bumblebee" begins with a war being raged on Cybertron, where the Autobot resistance faces off against the evil Decepticons, who have overtaken their home planet. The leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), sends B-127 to earth to protect it as a fallback base of operations for the Autobots. When B-127 arrives, he is attacked by a secret government agency called Sector 7, led by Jack Burns (John Cena), and a Decepticon called Blitzwing. During the scuffle, B's voicebox is ripped from his body, which causes him to lose his memory. He is found in a junkyard by 18-year-old Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), who is given a beat up old yellow VW Beetle as a birthday present from her uncle, who owns the scrap yard. It isn't long before she discovers that her car is actually a giant robot. Charlie and the newly named Bumblebee become fast friends, but when two Decepticons named Shatter and Dropkick (Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux) come looking for him, it puts him, his friend Charlie, and the entire Autobot resistance in danger.
Bumblebee 2018 Transformers movie
"They literally call themselves Decepticons! That doesn't set off any red flags?" (Image Source)
It only took a little over a decade to get good "Transformers" movie! All it took was for Michael Bay to finally hand the reigns to someone else, and voila, instant hit! "Bumblebee" is what we would consider a fun summer popcorn movie, just released in winter (kind of how "The Magnificent 7" remake was one of the best summer blockbusters despite being released at the end of September). While this movie can be silly and is chock full of goofy one-liners, most of which are delivered by John Cena, Travis Knight and Christina Hodson have created a story where we actually care about the characters and their relationships. Imagine that! We get invested in their journeys, we can follow along with what's happening, and there are not a trillion mindless subplots full of action, pissing robots, and product placements. Sure, product placements have been replaced with no less than 1500 80's hits because god forbid you ever forget it's the 80's, and yeah, there are lots of explosions, Bay did produce it after all, but Knight has constructed action sequences that aren't comprised of total chaos. The special effects are also fantastic looking. Don't get us wrong, the special effects have never been bad in the "Transformers" movies, but the sheer and utter disorganization and mayhem that has occurred in every other film in this series has made it difficult to leave the theater without a splitting headache. On the acting front, Hailee Steinfeld is able to create excellent chemistry with a CGI robot that can only speak through its radio, which just shows how much talent she has as an actress. Pamela Adlon, John Cena, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. are all great here as well. Finally, there is also some awesome retro character design that harkens back to the original "Transformers" animated series that boasts Optimus Prime in his traditional Freightliner flat-cab look, Bumblebee as the classic 60's Volkswagen Beetle, and even has SoundWave as a tape player complete with cassette tape wolf dog thing (aka Ravage).
Bumblebee 2018 Transformers movie Hailee Steinfeld
"He's more human than you'll ever be." (Image Source)
"Bumblebee" is easily the best Transformers movie to date. Yes, that may be a low bar, but it manages to be a fun and entertaining (albeit cheesy and semi-eye-roll-inducing) sci-fi action movie as well. Go see this one!

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.3/10
RT Rating: ~93%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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