Bumblebee: Film Review

The Transformers franchise hasn’t exactly been held in high esteem for a while now (although I didn’t mind The Last Knight, in all honesty) but I let out a groan when Bumblebee was announced because it seemed like an obvious cash cow. Turns out, there was an interesting story to tell and it is so good it has revived my interest in the franchise.

The film serves as a prequel to the original Transformers movie starring Shia LaBeouf. It stars Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie, an angsty teenager mourning her late dad. She is big into fixing up cars, which she used to do with him, and one day comes across a battered VW Beetle in a junkyard which she does up and is allowed to keep…only it’s not a regular Beetle and it has some Decepticons on its tail.

Directed by Travis Knight, this is the first live-action Transformers film not being helmed by Michael Bay – and you can really tell. Bay goes for the spectacle, the loud, crazy, non-stop action and effects, whereas Knight focuses more on the human story – of Charlie grieving her dad and finding a friend in Bumblebee. Of course, there is still action, and enough of it to keep action fans satisfied, but it is grounded in reality. I preferred those scenes – they were funny, heartfelt and well-written. As someone who has lost a parent, I must add that some of her lines about her loss really struck a chord with me and I had tears in my eyes (at a Transformers movie!!!!!)

The action sequences aren’t so well written and I sometimes struggled to follow what was happening, but that’s the nature of the beast really. At least they come in more digestible chunks compared to the main franchise. I really do hate big Transformer vs. Transformer battles, but at least in Bumblebee it is surrounded by so much other realistic, enjoyable stuff.

Steinfeld gives a really touching performance, which I did not expect from a film like this, and her friendship with Bumblebee was heartwarming as hell and so cute and fun to watch. John Cena also adds to the humour stakes as agent Jack Burns as well as Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as Memo, a nervous neighbour who fancies Charlie. None of the characters get the depth that Charlie does, they are all stock characters really, but the central relationship is so well done you don’t really mind.

The film is set in the 1980s and there is a real sense of nostalgia, mainly thanks to the music played on Bumblebee’s radio – his main form of communication. The soundtrack is EXCELLENT!

It is pretty rare for a spin-off to be better than the main franchise, especially one that isn’t well regarded. However, Bumblebee is such an improvement and probably the best instalment of the franchise (although I have no issues with the original). Who would have thought?! A nice surprising gem to finish off the year.

In cinemas Monday 24th December

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  1. […] posted up my last review of 2018 yesterday (it was Bumblebee by the way) and so that means it is time for me to reflect on the cinema releases I’ve […]

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