Transformers used to be a critic-proof franchise that was guaranteed to make a ton of money, regardless of the quality. Now, I am going to mention something controversial – I like this franchise. Yes, it has a ton of issues, one-dimensional characters, messy action sequences. But, this is my guilty-pleasure franchise. I actually enjoyed the first 4 Transformers movies! However, even I hated the fifth one (the Last Knight) and that was the first movie in the franchise that had a big drop in the global box office. Meaning, the audiences were catching on and were no longer interested in being disappointed again and again by the franchise. Bumblebee, directed by Travis Knight (director of the great Kubo and the Two Strings), is the first non-Michael Bay Transformers film, and he had a very difficult job – making a Transformers movie that can bring back the people that abandoned the franchise. I am very happy to say, I loved this movie but more importantly, the critics and the general moviegoing audience also seem to share my appreciation for Bumblebee.
Positives – At its core, this is a story about the relationships between Charlie (played by the beautiful Hailee Steinfeld) and Bumblebee, and Charlie and her family. First of all, the scenes with Charlie and Bee are extremely cute to watch, especially the beach scene. It never felt like Steinfeld was acting opposite of a CG creation (unlike the obviously CG creations in the other films) and Bumblebee very much felt like a real character. Another major emotional aspect of the movie is the relationship between Charlie and her family. Unlike the other members of her family, Charlie is still not over her father’s death and there are some really poignant moments in the film. Aside from the character moments, the action is great! You can actually tell what is happening on screen, unlike the other Transformers films where the action is quite unclear and just feels like a bloated mess. We also learn how Bee lost his voice in the first 15 minutes of the movie, thus, him essentially trying to “regain” his voice is powerful. The movie also gives us our best Cybertron scene of any Transformers movie and it’s cool to see the G1 designs for the Transformers.
Negatives – Unlike the Rock who has quickly cemented his place as the leading Hollywood star, John Cena isn’t there (yet). While he is great in comedies like Blockers, Trainwreck, he hasn’t demonstrated his acting prowess in the more serious dramatic moments. Outside of the genuinely funny Charlie-Bee comedic scenes, the comedy felt pretty cringe-worthy at times and, as is the case with every Transformers movie, the military plots felt shoehorned in.
Overall, Bumblebee is a movie that anyone can watch and enjoy. It has great characters with some good action sequences and a likeable main lead in Steinfeld. I can finally breath a sigh of relief knowing I am no longer that one person that enjoys this franchise as I know, you all now will too!
Rating – 4/5