Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz
Director: Travis Knight
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.
Regardless of what you think of Bumblebee, I think the one thing we can all agree on is that Michael Bay should never direct a Transformers movie again. It is amazing what happens when you take a family-friendly action movie and remove all of the mean-spirited humor, borderline racism, and suggested pedophilia that the previous installments had and somehow you end up with a good movie. This is exactly how a Transformers movie should be; fun, lighthearted, and entertaining for 114 minutes. When looking at holiday season releases, all we really need from a major studio release is something that everyone can sit down and enjoy, and it looks like Paramount finally has a hit on their hands with Bumblebee.
The film follows Charlie Watson (Steinfeld), an 18-year-old girl who has an interest in cars that stems from her relationship with her deceased father. When she comes into possession of what appears to be just a regular beat up VW Beetle, she finds out that she has received a giant extraterrestrial robot that she affectionately calls Bumblebee (voiced by Dylan O’Brien). Naturally, people start looking for the robot, including rival robots and the US military, so Charlie and Bumblebee must work together to make sure neither of them get captured. The thing that separates this film from the other movies in the Transformers series is this is the first movie that actually has acting that felt inspired and that was not wooden. Steinfeld is a breath of fresh air in a series that has had some pretty pitiful acting in the past. I actually believed that Steinfeld was a teenager going through the pressures of growing up and having this stressful situation thrown into her life and her track record shows us that she is more than capable of handling this role. Outside of Steinfeld, Cena is strong as the Army Ranger responsible for hunting Bumblebee down and cracks his stereotypical one-liners along the way. Lendeborg on the other hand shifts away from his character in Love, Simon and is fantastic as the geeky, goofy support for Charlie and Bumblebee. Outside of the cast, while the story is pretty generic, it is more than entertaining enough to make up for it. I think everyone knows how the story will start, progress, and end, but when you enjoy the journey along the way, you do not necessarily need the most original plot out there. The action sequences are fluid and easy on the eyes and at no point did I feel like the screen was over-saturated like some of the previous installments of this series. The film is not too long and at no time did I feel the plot was rushing or dragging at all. I also believe this is one of if not the only Transformers movie to show us actual depth to family and make the characters more than one-dimensional. While this is supposed to be a movie about giant robots fighting each other, adding any level of emotional attachment to these characters is just icing on cake for a film like this.
Overall, can we just pretend that all the Transformers movies leading up to this movie do not exist? This is such an upgrade from what we have had in the past and makes me sad when I think of what we could have had in all of those atrocious movies. If this is the new direction that these films will be headed in, then for the first time in my life I can truthfully say that I am excited for the next release in this installment and I look forward to what comes next from those involved.
Overall Score: 8/10