Bumblebee is the best transformers movie ever. It is the Transformers movie a jaded fan such as myself (who hasn’t even still seen the 5th movie) wanted but didn’t deserve. Why? Because I threw my money at the sequels to the 2007 original “Transformers” live action film. That original film was ‘good’ maybe a B+ as far as film goes and is widely considered the best movie directed by Michael Bay (not that that’s saying much!). However, the sequels were not great or even that good. They had OK action but barely comprehensible plots and spent more time filming the young female leads as eye candy rather than plot, story, and ya know…Actual Transformers stuff. By the time I saw the bloated 4th film I was just…Bored. And done with the series. However, we paid for it – literally – myself and many others continued to hand over our money to Michael Bay’s Transformers films. So how did we deserve any better then?
The only reason I saw “Bumblebee” was that it had a good trailer that made it seem like a major change in the direction of the series. It was going to be a show that focused on the Spielbergian 80’s-esque story of a kid and her car. In addition, there were intriguing shots of GENERATION ONE (original!!) Transformers for the first time, including Soundwave, considered one of the top three most popular Transformers ever to exist. However, I had been disappointed before, so while I wanted to see the film I tempered my expectations. Today I saw it; however, and I am so pleased to say it completely delivered!
Bumblebee is absolutely everything it promised and more. I don’t even know where to start with it for a couple reasons: 1.) I don’t want to spoil anything and 2.) My sole criticism is so minor I almost don’t want to bring it up. However, since it’s not a spoiler I will. Lets start with the good stuff. The film has a simple but easy-to-follow plot. The Autobots (good guys) have lots the war against the evil Decepticons and Optimus Prime, their leader, sends them across the galaxy to hide out. Bumblebee has the most important job because Earth, where he is sent, is to be the base all the Autobots will rally around. On Earth, Bumblebee is followed by a powerful Decepticon and while he kills his enemy, he is gravely wounded to the point of losing his voice and memory. What is implied to be 1-3 years later the main character a 18 year old girl “Charlie” finds him and forges an unlikely friendship. Meanwhile, by accident, Bumblebee attracts the attention of two powerful Decepticons in a nearby solar system. These Decepticons are essentially “Gestapo” or perhaps less intimidatingly, “Federal agents” of the Decepticons.
I’m not simply implying job titles here. These two Decepticons are pretty cool and some of the strongest to yet grace the silver screen. Known as “Shatter” and “Dropkick” (not that I actually heard those names mentioned – thanks IMDB!) these agents are ruthless and cunning and for perhaps the first time in the series act like actual “Decept”icons. They are also triple-changers, able to transform into military aircraft, cars, and robots. This film is edgy, it is rated PG-13 and I think at times pushes that to the max. The violence is at times shocking and brutal, more so than any other Transformers film, which was a welcome surprise.
The writing is very good. It’s smart, yet pokes fun at times that these are giant talking robots walking around. The film is well-cast, moves briskly, and has excellent action sequences. Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus Prime, yet again delivers in a supporting role what is both his most iconic role of all time and one of the most important to kids young and old like myself. I love the extensive use of 80s pop music throughout the film – seeing 80s cars, costumes, and period props was icing on the cake for me, an admitted 80s-phile. My sole critiscm which is very small is at one point Dropkick and Shatter want to use satellites to track Bumblebee and they display an image of the International Space Station which wasn’t built yet. And…That’s it, that’s literally my only criticism of the entire 2 hour film. I also wanted more generation one Soundwave and Shockwave but then again, 4 hours of them would not yet be enough.
Look, this review is a plea for you to go out and see this film in theatres because it’s the film every Transformer fan wanted but never had. Judging by my 3/4 empty theatre, the film isn’t doing well and that’s a travesty because if the film bombs we’d lose the chance at more GOOD Transformer movies. Lets hope that doesn’t happen.
Final Review: A+