BUMBLEBEE & THE TRANSFORMERS
By the grace of the Allspark, Hasbro and Paramount have created a Transformers live-action movie that will satisfy the original G1 (Generation 1) fans and newcomers alike. Bumblebee is not just the best live-action Transformers film, it is the fulfillment of a promise made when the first film was announced in 2005. This is the movie fans have been waiting for.
===MAJOR SPOILERS WARNING===
When the original trailer dropped in June, fans became hopeful that Bumblebee would start a new era of Transformers films. Showing the old Volkswagen Beetle was the first sign that filmmakers would finally pay proper homage to the original cartoon. Then, the appearance of a familiar Decepticon jet really showed the studio might be on the right track.
The following trailers only reinforced that conclusion. Soundwave launching Ravage, overjoyed fans. Optimus Prime, Shockwave, and the Decepticon Seekers were just like they imagined Hollywood could deliver.
THE WAR FOR CYBERTRON
The opening scene of Bumblebee could go down in Transformers history. It has a scope and grandeur that rivals Optimus Prime’s counterattack in 1986’s The Transformers: The Movie. Fans will immediately recognize faces from their childhood. Ratchet, Wheeljack, and Arcee make cameos among the Autobots. The horde of Decepticon jet fighters mirrors their cartoon counterparts, with the familiar voices of Soundwave and Shockwave urging them on.
Five minutes in, and Bumblebee already realized every dream a modern Transformers fan dared hope for. While the action is fast paced, and just as flashy as the previous films, the great choreography and camera work make it easy to follow. These new Transformers are just as intricate as the ones in previous movies, but each one is a distinct character.
While the action scenes make Bumblebee worthwhile by themselves, the story is what will make it a classic. The movie masterfully executes its simple plot of two beings from different planets coming together as friends. Director Travis Knight made a two-ton robot soldier a lovable friend the audience falls in love with. It would not be a stretch to compare this Bumblebee to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial or Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant.
Hailee Steinfeld plays Charlie Watson, the teenage girl who finds and befriends Bumblebee. Steinfeld’s Charlie is independent and talented. But she can still fall into the trap of teenage popularity. And while Jorge Lendeborg Jr., plays Memo, a possible romantic partner, the two do not follow the Hollywood cliché of instantly falling for each other. Memo has to build his confidence and Charlie isn’t a swooning damsel in distress. A life and death adventure is not the best way to learn about each other. If they’re going to be more than friends, it’s going to take time.
John Cena’s performance as Burns, a soldier who rightfully distrusts war robots from outer space, is equally nuanced. Burns leads the hunt for Bumblebee to keep people safe and has a common sense not normally seen in alien invasion movies. He thinks trusting a group called the “Decepticons” is a bad idea but is overruled by his superiors.
Bumblebee is not just a good Transformers movie or even sci-fi movie. It is a great adventure with real heart. So, a whole new cinematic universe starting with this movie has huge promise. And Hasbro has a huge catalog. G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K., ROM, Micronauts, Action Man, or even the Visionaries could find a place alongside the Robots in Disguise.