By Sam Bussell
When you think ‘Transformers’ movies you immediately think about the Micheal Bay formula that became so generic since the first film in 2007. Slow motion shots of cars and beautiful woman all the while big robots destroying cities upon cities in their usual 2 and a half hour runtime. While it may have worked for a little while, audience members have become bored by it. People want something new and refreshing otherwise this franchise could be a sinking ship, while this sounds doom and gloom fear not because a superhero has come to save this franchise and his name is, Travis Knight.
‘Bumblebee‘ follows teenager Charlie Watson who stumbles upon a yellow VW Bug and once taken back to her garage she discovers its not an ordinary car. From this moment the film takes off and becomes an adventure between a human and her other worldly friend who must protect Earth and while also surviving on a foreign planet. For those that are wondering if this has any resemblance of the previous films, have no fear because Travis Knight comes in an makes this his own movie and relies more on the lore of the past than of the present; which helps make this a very good film.
Right off the bat the film begins with an incredible action sequence that helps people settle in but doesn’t continue throughout the entire film instead replacing a few action set pieces with character development that works in its favor. In previous Transformer films characters are sacrificed in order to serve out the action but not with ‘Bumblebee’, and that is in large part due to Haliee Steinfeld; who is amazing in this film. Her relationship with Bumblebee is really the glue that keeps the film together and is a big reason the film works so well and is much more intimate and personable. Steinfeld is a superstar who has been waiting in the wings for a long time appearing in film such as the ‘Pitch Perfect‘ series and ‘True Grit‘ (which is was her film debut). Working with nothing on set and making you believe that she is talking to a giant robot carries you throughout the film and its astonishing.
Circling back to the action of the film, whenever you see giant robots fight it actually has some meaning and isn’t just mindless explosions. While the action and some of the performances are excellent it isn’t all positive; one person that comes to mind specifically is John Cena who plays a government agent, and over the last few years has become a very good comedian. Sadly here he is very misplaced and the only thing he ends up doing is giving his best Dwayne Johnson impression with some one liners that fall flat on impact.
While I definitely see him try in a few scenes they go right back to the one liners and he is in a different film entirely. Another big glare to the film is the actual plot itself, while the chemistry between the leads is amazing, the actual framing of the film is very familiar feeling like a beat by beat follow of both ‘E.T‘ and ‘The Iron Giant‘. Some people may like this, but I for one knew what was going to happen as the film progressed.
While it may seem like this is a negative it’s really more mixed; in my eyes this is without a doubt the second best Transformers film behind the first one Bay made in 2007. It takes risks that both pay off and fall flat on but definitely gets you excited for what is to come in the future for this franchise.