What’s It About?
An origin story, where Bumblebee lands on Earth in the mid 80s in California, two decades before Michael Bay’s Transformers is set, and attempts to fit in, and evade the Decepticons looking for him.
Who’s In It?
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Pitch Perfect 2-3, & more recently Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse)
Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner I-III, The Internship, & more recently Deepwater Horizon)
Other notables include:
John Cena (Daddy’s Home Two, Ferdinand, & more recently Blockers)
Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got To Do With It, American Horror Story, & more recently Black Panther & Mission: Impossible – Fallout)
Justin Theroux (The Leftovers, The Girl On The Train, & more recently The Spy Who Dumped Me)
Director: Travis Knight (Kubo And The Two Strings)
Bumblebee may be the prequel that few wanted, after a deluge of high octane motion blurred Transformers films, but it should leave most people surprisingly satisfied.
The first credit it has is that Michael Bay has stepped aside, and therefore the worst excesses of the Transformers’ franchise, namely motion-sickness-inducing action sequences and nonsensical storylines, and replaced by a heartfelt buddy story along the lines of Short Circuit, Herbie and even ET.
As with these classics, Bumblebee is set in yesteryear, in 1987 California. As the remaining Autobots flee the destruction of Cybertron and those evil Decepticons, Optimus Prime sends Bumblebee on a mission to scout out Earth and keep it Decepticon free, with the surviving Autobots planning to rendez-vous there eventually.
But things go wrong almost immediately as first gung-ho Agent Burns (played by John Cena) attacks him, before Decepticons Dropkick and Shatter appear on the horizon. Bumblebee goes into hiding as a bright yellow VW Beetle, and is eventually found rusting out the back of a garage by lonely teen Charlie Watson. Having recently lost her dad, and feeling isolated after her mother meets a new man, Charlie is having a tough time of it, but after meeting Bumblebee, the two soon form a connection, before all hell breaks loose courtesy of the Decepticons and the military.
Directed by Travis Knight, of Kubo And The Two Strings, Bumblebee is very much a character driven story with plenty of heart – a far cry from total Bayhem – which results in it being the best Transformers film since the original.
It also has a kickass 80s soundtrack, with plenty of Smiths too. Hailee Steinfeld delivers a great performance as a girl who reconnects with the world after suffering terrible loss, while there is great support from the likes of Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Jason Drucker, and Lenny Jacobson, as well as the Transformers Dylan O’Brien, Justin Theroux, Peter Cullen and Angela Bassett, but the real stand out is John Cena, who proves once again that he has the chops for comedy, and delivers, without doubt, the best lines.
In A Nutshell:
Although not flawless, Bumblebee is a vast improvement on the Transformers sequels with a fun, heartfelt story reminiscent of some 80s classics.
Hailee Steinfeld as the lead
A heartfelt storyline
John Cena’s performance
A typically generic final third