Bumblebee (2018)

Today we’re taking a look at 2018’s Bumblebee : the story of one little Autobot and their journey to Earth. It’s like ET meets Iron Giant and Herbie, and we’re getting into some seriously nerdy commentary about it.

Contains Spoilers.

Production

The scene transitions are cleverly orchestrated and smoothly actioned. This is a technically and thematically well-produced film all round.

The opening shots of Cybertron and seeing our G1 favourites (complete with Cybertronian transformations) in faithful glory is entirely heart warming. The only thing we’re missing is Stan Bush at this stage. The opening 3 and a half minute sequence is exactly what we should have got from  the Michael Bay (the jock that got the keys to a nerd franchise) adaptions. 

bumblebee soundwave cybertron

This film contains shots within that previously-established niche of people-running-through-the-legs-of-giant-robots-who-are-fighting-each-other.

The Smiths do not need to be on this soundtrack regardless of context, whereas Bon Jovi‘s Runaway can go where it wants, as can Steve Winwood‘s Higher Love (which, as i recall was used in a very prominent series of car adverts in the UK, back in the day). In saying that the soundtrack certainly goes a long way to help facilitate slower portions of the film.

The filmmakers do a good job of setting up Charlie’s backstory as the talented outsider who misses her father and wants a car (it’s worth noting that Hailee Steinfeld did a great job in this film). It doesn’t feel patronising in any way but they do make a point of reinforcing it strongly.  The same can be said for the films 1980’s story placement. 

John Cena becomes a parody of a parody of himself, except he is totally visible during his ineffectual screen time. There’s also a feeling that they may have offered the role to The Rock first? 

For me, slapstick comedy in Transformers films has never worked and comes across as disingenuous – with the Bay films it was always the robots with speech impediments or the smaller robots. With Bumblebee it comes across as the titular character being surprised or clumsy. There’s a point during Bumblebee when this powerful warrior of the Autobot army becomes a mute, cowering giant puppy, that i found the film took a sharp turn firmly into the kids film genre only to back out again. Adorable tom foolery ensues.

Bumblebee g1 crazydiscostu

There’s 2 very different films fighting for screen time with this one. The story of a warrior refugee of an intergalactic war and the story of a girl with a robot puppy. Neither wants to play ball for the sake of the audience and seem to despise one another.

There’s a disconnect in the form of an awkward love story which is sandwiched in with no real chemistry or substance. The male character of which only makes a contribution to the plot  nearly 1 hour in. Yet somehow, the story is framed a lot better than previous incarnations of the franchise. 

I began to lose interest towards the end of the 1 hour 54 min runtime after seeing Bumblebee beaten almost to death for the 6th time only to come back. This is where i found the film lost direction. 

That’s not to say the ending didn’t have direction, it just tried to commit to too many directions. Too many endings. The film came to a natural conclusion but the writers wouldn’t let it leave.

It did provide us with the best line in the film : “Worlds already been saved, kid.” 

bumblebee crazydiscostu film review

There was really no need for the Optimus Prime ending to be tacked on after the story had been resolved. 

It’s not all badly delivered,  there’s some nice subtle nods in there including the Judd Nelson connection to the franchise, Stan Bush and even Star Wars.

For all it’s flaws, this film has the feel of the original cartoon and not the over-glossed highly-saturated Bay version. Bumblebee comes across a lot classier and still the best live action Transformers film we have. 

Conclusion

Let’s face it, this film will never live up to Transformers : The Movie 1986. That’s just a simple fact. At this stage it’s just about brand damage limitation. I think by now i’ve made my personal feelings on reboots/remake abundantly clear – but that aside for a second – i would be interested in seeing the 1986 movie rereleased in this style. Line for line and shot for shot, as a purely fan service gesture of goodwill.

Overall this is a bold attempt to fix a franchise. Bumblebee (2018) respects the legacy but gets bogged down in trying course-correct the modern film franchise (which itself, died the way it lived – joyless and drowning puppies).

Bumblebee is a soft reboot, soft prequel. As a reboot or prequel the film doesn’t really commit a consistent effort towards either. The main effort it puts into the franchise is that it removes the established lecherous and creepy overtones.

To me, Bumblebee is the best modern representation of the franchise. Even compared to the Netflix re-tellings. If only in the opening 3 and a half minutes.

You can find our other Transformers coverage by clicking HERE!

bumblebee film review transformers cybertron nerd crazydiscostu

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