It was only a matter of time until Paramount’s cash-cow franchise got a standalone and it thankfully veers (for the most part) from the Michael Bay formula and shines above all the prior entries. A rocky start and some static characters build into a fun, light-hearted tale that will put a smile on any movie-goers face.
The first act is a total blur, from intergalactic tension to cliché 80’s family issues and John Cena humour (Yeah I’m going to call him John Cena and not his character name because A) I can’t remember it. B) He’s literally John Cena in this movie). Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld) is a troubled, misunderstood teen, who attempts to rebuild a family heirloom with no luck but she also wants a car and gets…. wait for it…. More than she asked for (Remind of you of anyone else in the very beginning of this franchise who just wanted a car? You get where I’m going here). If you can get through this shaky and very predictable first act, I promise you it gets much better.
Once the dust settles and Watson is a proud owner of a bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle, character development is experienced like never (ever) before in the franchise, with Bumblebee experiencing exactly what it’s like to be a rebellious teenager which actually works on-screen more than one would normally think. Unlike previous installments the world isn’t in danger for the entirety and Bumblebee is free to be himself and it is a genuinely fun ride when Steinfeld and Bumblebee are on screen. The film oozed some genuine humour for the very first time in the franchises existence which alone earns recognition. As for Agent Burns (John Cena, I remembered his name in the film!) and the government presence in the film, it’s as stale as ever, along with the antagonistic Decepticons. However, I applaud the minimal need for inclusion of too many Transformers as the direction calls this to be a standalone film, which makes the fight scenes more valuable and not as overdone as the past.
The visual effects are to be equally applauded this time around for being kept in check, and not polluting the screen with unnecessary cranked frames. This also goes hand-in-hand with the action being toned down to actually tell us a story.
Bumblebee serves to answer many questions asked from prior films regarding the yellow fan favourite. What I was glad to see excluded is that no unnecessary things like where he was during World War II which was beckoning from the previous installment Transformers: The Last Knight (2017). While it may have been extremely difficult to forget about the convoluted ideas of this franchises past leading up to Bumblebee, the film simply asks you to forget about that for a little while to a focused and simple plot, in a simpler decade.
I like to think Paramount has finally learned after the tragedy of The Last Knight and to some degree they’ve shown it in Bumblebee, However the film falls flat in terms of formatting and pacing, even (and especially) with characters, but they finally had me give a damn about the bond between man (In this case girl!) and machine. I can finally call a Transformers film fun for the whole family as the majority of inappropriate jokes are cut, isn’t too long, and doesn’t rely on having your ears ringing by the end. Not spectacular by any means, Bumblebee still finds a way to instill a glimpse hope in a franchise I thought long dead, and is finally worth of the phrase “More Than Meets the Eye”.
Rating – 7/10
Bumblebee hits theatres on December 21, 2018