Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and the rest of the Transformers would likely have played a significant role in the lives of most kids (especially boys) growing up in the 80s and 90s. They were a constant part of Saturday/Sunday mornings and the ‘must have’ toys – I mean come on, they were both robots and cars, planes, trucks and dinosaurs!
More than that though, much like most shows then, it taught us the difference between right and wrong, filled us with hope that even as kids, there might just be an opportunity for adventure lurking around the corner. Any and every vehicle might just be a robot in disguise.
It’s this link to fond childhood memories that the first Transformers movie was received with open arms. Our childhood heroes were coming to life on the big screen… and then our dreams were shattered, stepped on, buried under a pile of dung, and then stepped on again for good measure.
Yes, the first Transformers movie was pretty good. It was the first time we were seeing the Autobots and Decepticons brought to life. The next movies that followed had their moments (barely) but were mostly trash.
Watching Bumblebee, the latest entry into the franchise – a prequel set in the 80s in a time before the events in any of the other movies, I couldn’t help but feel a certain degree of anger. This is the movie fans had been waiting for all those years!
The first 10 minutes of Bumblebee would be enough to give any lifelong fan, who’s been blue balled by Michael Bay over the last decade, release.
Seeing Generation 1 versions of the Transformers such as Optimus, Wheeljack, Soundwave, Shockwave, Arcee and even ‘red shirt’ Cliffjumper, in a live-action movie will rekindle your love of the franchise. Yes, the character designs were developed for the 80s audience, but they work so well on screen.
There was really no reason to totally change the models (unless you’re looking to launch a new toy-line) the way Bay did. Since the start of the movie franchise, the Transformers started to look more and more like insects rather than ‘people’ that they were supposed to be. Arcee, the only Generation 1 female, was probably the worst redesign of the lot.
Travis Knight, the man behind the artistic Kubo and the Two Strings, lives up to his name and rolls out to the rescue. Bumblebee takes the franchise back to basics (and the 80s) in many different ways from the storytelling and soundtrack and the numerous references to the decade.
Bumblebee is a classic coming of age story and is reminiscent of Disney’s classic Love Bug, Herbie, and E.T. (Steven Spielberg is an Executive Producer so no wonder). The tale isn’t rushed and is well paced to explain why the yellow bug cares for humans as much as he does. The movie contains enough Easter eggs to appeal to hardcore fans, but has enough substance to deliver a heartfelt story that’s carried very well by the cast.
Hailee Steinfeld is the first female in the whole franchise that actually matters. Her characterization of Charlie Watson, a misunderstood 18-year old, as a strong-willed, independent and wholly capable individual is several rungs above anything Megan Fox, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley or Shia LeBeouf, brought to the table.
Following Dwayne Johnson and Dave Bautista, John Cena might have finally found his niche in Hollywood. Yes, he’s not going to win any awards, but let’s not forget, this is the franchise that managed to turn Anthony Hopkins into a blubbering idiot. Cena does well enough as Agent Burns. He actually manages to elicit a few genuine laughs and does a pretty decent job all round.
While Angela Bassett lends her gravitas and voice to the big bad Decepticon Shatter, it’s really Dylan O’Brien (Maze Runner) that provides the voice for Bumblebee himself – and it was perfect!
Bumblebee is the Transformers movie that should have been made in the first place. Now bring on the Battle for Cybertron… please?