Oh boy, another Transformersmovie and… wait a minute… Michael Bay isn't making this one? Okay movie, you've got one major thing fixed, but there's still some issues that need to be addressed. What about the characters, design of the robots, plot, effects…hmm…according to the previews, everything seems to be taking a turnaround from before. It's set in the 1980s and were focusing on a teenage whose not being objectified for the sake of sexuality? And the robots are designed similar to the animated series counterpart? Okay movie; now you really got me curious.
You can't blame me or a lot of people for having low expectations when it comes to Transformers. I'm not as well read on the toys, shows, or comics, but the movies have been examples of "fast food cinema"; where instead of substance and a compelling story, were given constant action scene after action scene set against well shot backdrops along with glorifying the military, bikini girls, and everything macho. I'd understand if people like that sort of thing, but it only worked for the first movie. The others have been overlong, dull, and even dumb. So with Bumblebee actually trying something lighter, it's persuaded me to give the series another chance now that director Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) is in charge.
In 1987, a planet evacuation of Cybertron sends Bumblebee to Earth, where a special opts team called Sector 7 mistakes him for a treat and attack him. At the same time, a Decepticon follows Bumblebee and fights him while agent Jack Burns (played by John Cena) continues his assault. Though the Decepticon is defeated, Bumblebee loses his voice and hides in plain sight as a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle.
Sometime later, teenager Charlie Watson (Played by Hailee Steinfeld) is still mulling over the death of her father while making it as a loner eighteen year-old. While working at her uncles junkyard, she gets the same yellow Beetle as a birthday present. Upon working on it at home, it transforms into Bumblebee who is without a voice and scared from his encounter from Sector 7. This establishes right away that he's not a threat and Charlie vows to protect him. So while trying get his memory back, Charlie tries to get him to stay hidden. At the same time, two Decepticons intercept Sector 7 and agree to work with them in exchange to access to the worlds communications system in order to find Bumblebee.
I'm glad to say the big changes were all for the good as Bumblebee may be the best Transformers movie of the franchise, even better then the first. It wasn't just a good movie on it's own, but it felt like I was watching a live action adaptation of the 1980's cartoon. A lot of it is because a long with a smaller story, I finally felt like that several characters had genuine arcs. Bumblebee changes and learns to trust people. Charlie learns to accept her father's passing and move on. Even Jack learns about the value in something we don't understand. The script actually understood that personalities affect story and can go through something to make something of the plot.
If some of this is sounding familiar, it's because Bumblebee took a lot of inspiration fromE.T., WarGames, and a lot of 1980's style movies. What Travis Knight knew was that the majority of those movies knew how to capture the innocence of an adolescent. Hailee Steinfeld does well at playing this kind of character (which some might see as similar to Edge of Seventeen, but she seems to have some idea of what she wants to do later in life).
The actions scenes are also improved upon thanks to the fact that their better shot and aren’t as needed within the story. Bumblebee relies more on the connection between this car and human then on the thousands of explosions that Michael Bay had used.
Is Bumblebee a masterpiece? Probably the best a Transformers movie can become. What I mean is that it isn't a game changer to this story, but it is at least really good at it. It's entertaining and knows how much to give before taking the toys away.
I'll give this four and a half old Transformers animation cels out of five. I'll be curious to see if this is going to a part of the old series (which it makes that connection) or if it's a part of a bigger reboot. I'm hoping for the latter as this deserves to be a starting point to something better. Autobots, roll out and go see it.