Bumblebee Review

Synopsis

Bumblebee brings us the origin story of one of our favorite Transformers.  The Autobot makes his way to earth after escaping an attack on Cybertron.  He lands on earth to seek refuge and establish a haven for other Autobots to join.  After being followed by a Decepticon and battles to survive, he wins the fight but takes enough damage that he goes critical and shuts down.

Fast forward to 1987 and we meet Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld).  A girl who just turns 18 with problems of her own.  She is a tomboy with a taste for punk music.  Trying to get running the car and her late father used to work on.  In the process of trying to get the parts needed to fix up the car, she finds an old Volkswagen Bug at the junk yard.  She convinces the yard owner to give her the car.  After all it is her birthday.

While trying to work on the car in her garage, Bumblebee comes to life and shows his true form.  They create a bond right from the get-go.  In walks Memo (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) the next-door neighbor with the crush.  Charlie calms Bumblebee down and Memo becomes part of the group.  All while this is happening two new Decepticons come to earth to find Bumblebee.  They encounter the infamous Sector Seven-headed up by Agent Burns (John Cena).  The two Decepticons Shatter (Angela Bassett) and Dropkick (Justin Theroux) trick Burns and Dr. Powell (John Ortiz) into allowing them access to their base.  This allows them to integrate Decepticon technology with ours to locate Bumblebee.

“The Darkest nights, produce the brightest stars.”

After being captured by Sector Seven and the Decepticons, Bumblebee is brought back to the base.  Charlie returns home to find him gone.  With the help of her brother, she and Memo follow Burns back to base.  They find Shatter and Dropkick torturing Bumblebee to the brink of death.

When they think he is out, the Decepticons venture out to try to call their army to Earth.  Charlie and Memo revive Bumblebee and restore his full memory.  They follow Shatter and Dropkick to a radio tower and keep them from completing their mission.

At the end of it all, Charlie knows that Bumblebee cannot stay with her and he needs to do what he needs to do.  We end the story with him transforming into the old Chevrolet Camaro that we see in the beginning of the first Transformers movie.  This brings us full circle.

What I liked

This by far is the best Transformers movie in the franchise.  For being a fantasy film about alien robots on earth, it seems to be the most grounded.  Paramount did the right thing by focusing on Bumblebee.  He is the Transformer that everyone loves.  For being an alien robot, he shows a lot of emotion.  The animators did an amazing job giving him range he needed.

Steinfeld showed depth in her character in just under two hours than Shia LaBeouf did in three movies.  You feel a genuine connection with her and her troubles as she tries to find herself after the death of her father.  Lendeborg Jr. plays the typical boy with the crush.  This could have a train wreck waiting to happen, but he made it work.  The human element of this film seemed more grounded than ever for the franchise.

“Bumblebee, our war rages on. You must protect Earth, and it’s people.”

Travis Knight (Coraline, ParaNorm) was able to give us a Transformers movie with the stuff we needed without the stuff that we didn’t.  His overall direction and view of this film was spot on.  Of course, with any film like this, you will have your typical explosions.  It just wasn’t Michael Bay style.  The destruction and explosions where what were needed and seemed more realistic.  There was no explosion for the sake of having an explosion.

What I didn’t Like

We get Cena doing what Cena does A LOT.  We get him doing the military thing with the military look.  Don’t’ get me wrong, I like Cena.  For a WWE wrestler turned actor, I think he is killing it.  After seeing that he has the chops to do good comedy like Blockers, do we need Mr. Military again?  He’s done it.  It’s getting kind of boring.  The silver lining to this is that he knows he is good at it and does well as Agent Burns.

This may just be a pet peeve of mine but why the name Memo.  Does Hollywood really have to try to be edgy by trying to use a super uncommon name just for the sake of using it.  I legit have never heard of anyone by this name and had to look it up to see if it really was a thing.  Turns out is Latin in origin and dates back far.  Was it necessary?  Lendeborg Jr. could have been Steve or Bill and it still would not take away from his performance.

This film is supposed to take place before the events of the first Transformers movie.  We get to see Sector Seven but are there different bases that do no talk to each other?  Based on the timeline where we are, Megatron would have already crash landed in the Antarctic.  By this time Sector Seven would have already been experimenting on him and using his technology.  How does this not come to light in Bumblebee.  The continuity does not line up with where we need to end, and the original movies pick up.

What Could have been improved.

I truly did enjoy this movie and trying to find something that needs to be improved is somewhat difficult.  However, with the things that I didn’t like, they were not deal breakers.  Probably the biggest thing that I think could have been improved is writing the story knowing how the events should line up. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, I think Bumblebee is the Transformers movie that we have wanted for over a decade.  It had a lot of heart and emotion in it.  Steinfeld and Lendeborg Jr. gave excellent performances.  Their performances were that of an ensemble cast where Bumblebee was truly another actor on set. 

Cena even though playing the typical military role did not disappoint.  My only thought is that since this took place in the ’80s, I was hoping to see Cena with an epic mullet haircut and leather jacket.  Knight’s direction showed us that we can still pump out Transformers movies and make them better than before.

My last and final thought on this whole movie. How do you introduce Sector Seven and not give us a de-aged John Turturro?

Overall Score 4.5/5

Bumblebee is currently in theaters.

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Reviewed by Brian Mensing, Back Lot 605 Co-Host

About the Author
Brian is one of the co-founders of Back Lot 605. Movies have always been a passion of his. Some of his closest friends call him a walking movie database. He grew up watching classics like Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, and Star Wars. He has a soft spot for good classics like The Sting, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Sound of Music, & The Wizard of Oz. Brian enjoys a good comic book movie any day and loves The Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has a nerd crush on Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, & Robert Rodriguez. He has been married for ten years and has two handsome twin sons.
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