Bumblebee

Every adventure has a beginning.

Kubo and the Two Strings helmer Travis Knight directs Hailee Stenfield in this Transformers spin-off centering around Bumblebee, set in 1987. On the run, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.

On the purported departure from typical Transformers movie stylisation, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura remarks, "In fact it reminds me a little bit of Iron Giant years ago when I did that movie at Warner Bros. It just reminds me a little bit of that where it was very contained and yet it didn’t feel small."

Aaron-Yap2

Aaron Yap

flicks

Bumblebee is the Transformers franchise sobering up after a decade-long bender. As a much-overdue corrective, this spinoff-cum-reboot ably exorcises the cinematic sins of Michael Bay’s sensorially punishing installments, which by The Last Knight—the fifth Transformers movie—had formulated such a bizarre, surrealist-garbage idiom that it managed to offer a kind of Stockholm syndrome-esque solace to combat the suffering of our eyeballs.

Altogether less cynical and garish in its worldview, Bumblebee worships at the altar of Steven Spielberg and John Hughes, favouring peppy wholesomeness and a reduced scale of events that doesn’t rely on the graphic leveling of cities for thrills. With Kubo and the Two Strings’ Travis Knight at the helm, the action is staged with pleasing, straightforward clarity. For veteran Transformers buffs, the return to the Gen-1 designs is a most-welcome sight to behold as are the cameos from several fan favourites absent from Bay’s films.

Yet for all its virtues, there’s also a sense of a little-too-late hanging over everything. If Bumblebee had been the first live-action Transformers out of the gate, we’d probably still be singing its praises today. But Christina Hodson’s screenplay, while giving Hailee Steinfeld a wonderfully plucky heroine role, is teeming with so many familiar human/robot-bonding beats, at times it resembles a shameless remake of Brad Bird’s superior The Iron Giant. And if you’re allergic to on-the-nose, overly calculated nostalgia (The Smiths needle-drops, The Breakfast Club nods, etc.), Bumblebee is guilty as charged.

Hey, there are probably worse things than emerging from the detritus of Bay’s Transformers universe looking like The Edge of Seventeen with robots. Bumblebee doesn’t feel like it was made by an asshole, and that’s a relief.

Hollywood Reporter

press

It's an effective reimagining that also bears a knowing resemblance to classic youth-oriented films from Bumblebee executive producer Steven Spielberg.

Los Angeles Times

press

"Bumblebee," for its part, has just enough wit, playfulness and charm to develop a voice of its own, which is no small thing in the context of a flashy, lunkheaded studio franchise.

Total Film (UK)

press

Knight and Hodson have salvaged something agreeable from an otherwise badly dented series.

Variety (USA)

press

"Bumblebee" is basically the movie that fans of the 1980s animated series wanted all along.

Empire (UK)

press

An impassioned ode to both the toys and their era, this, at last, is the Transformers movie we've been waiting for.

FilmInk (Australia)

press

...a fun, well-acted, exciting and even emotional piece of popcorn action.

The Guardian

press

In a better, truer cinematic universe, Travis Knight would have been in charge of the Transformers franchise all along.

Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)

press

Move over Herbie: Fully Loaded, there's a new champion in the girl-and-her-VW movie genre.
PjM-97

PjM-97

user


More Faithful to the Original Show

This was a lot more faithful to the original show but still has flaws including not making the robots the main characters, in an age where you can make Groot and Rocket a main character surely someone can put heart into these robots in disguise!