Hollywood touches everything it can, finding topics that can potentially be turned into a new movie franchises until every inch of profit is squeezed out. A toy series turned cartoon, that soon became a live action motion picture series that at one time blew our minds and soon blew our wallets. After many hardships, the series was about to crash and burn, until the Bay era was handed over to a new team to try and bring it back to life. Tonight, the full world release is upon us and given the trailers, can this film succeed where the others have failed? That’s where my review comes in, so here we go as I review:
Movie: Bumblebee (2018)
Character Development: Bumblebee starts off on the right foot by bringing some character development the film sorely needed. The titular characters get a gross dive into the psyche, finding new ways to expand the quiet hero’s role outside of new weapons to shoot. In addition, Steinfeld’s character is much more realistic than the mess we had in the other five installments. Her history, her outlook on life, and social dynamics are covered extraordinarily well, making sure to connect the points and actually give some growth. The relationship between the robot and girl is heartwarming and an appealing dynamic to invest your time into.
The Story: The movie succeeds again where the others had trouble. While not the most in depth, this prequel, and potential reboot, does make a much more connected plot that wasn’t too cheesy or stuffed in comic craziness. It bridges the Cybertron to Earth transition well, while setting up the plot for potential sequels, while also standing on its own with the previously mentioned character development. Dropping the convoluted tangled subplots opened the movie to more fun in both comedy and action. Speaking of which.
Comedy: Ever since number one Transformers has had a special spot for overdone comedy antics and ridiculous levels of meme worthy gags. Noticing the declining trend in quality of the jokes, Bumblebee’s writers did a fantastic job of integrating some fresh laughs into the mix without going too far into the stale territory. The 80s nostalgic references and pop culture power with Bee is sensational and by avoiding the tacky toilet humor, it doesn’t lose its stride. Even more impressive is how the comedy flows into the story, working with it and not trying to overtake it as has been seen in the past. A few tangential scenes did occur mind you, but limited their time limit to get back on track in the short time limit.
Pacing: The last two films proved that the writing struggled to fill the nearly 3 hour run times with engaging material, leading to a sluggish rambling with little value. Bumblebee shines here as well, not only by shortening the run time by nearly an hour, but also with a pace that kept moving and in time with the other antics. As such, don’t expect too much boredom in this installment.
The Action: Hands down the aspect I was watching for the most, Bumblebee again manages to achieve the goal of improving upon the action that it sold for so long. The yellow bug had much more epic and fluid moves, with improve choreography and some dynamic sequences that were captured beautifully and not lost too sketchy camera work. Throw in the fact that the special effects weren’t too overdone, nor the focus of the film, and it led to cleaner action moments that hooked me into the get go. By not forcing the action too much, I think it made the moments shine a little brighter, and kept the theater quality up.
The Soundtrack: When it comes to the 80s, you know the music was legendary in its synthesizers and emotional rantings. Well, Bumblebee seems to have a good ear for some legendary tracks and while comically integrated well, the selection was just wonderful to listen too throughout the film. Be ready to tap your toes to the beats my friend, or at least get set for lip syncing.
More Action: A small dislike, but an action junkie like me wanted more of the epic display of battling between robotic factions. Cybertron was a great introduction, but why could we not get more of it throughout the film. Perhaps another prequel about the war for Cybertron will be in the future, but a little more of the fighting on Earth could have helped relieve this want.
Attention To Detail: Again, a small dislike, but Bumblebee’s writers may have missed some of the story elements from the previous film. The way this is set up suggests that this film will be reboot of the series, a good thing in terms of story. Yet if it is going to continue on and serve as the first film in the Michael Bay Series, then it loses points for trying to ignore the details they once cherished.
John Cena: His character isn’t bad, and his acting fits the character, but I was disappointed with the way to took the character given the previous history of human agents. Cena’s character goes through the usual ringers, but misses the target in terms of being a little too silly, not getting the full integrative procedures, and not having the same bite that others have had. As such, I kind of felt it was a wasted character for me, and could have been an added character bonus and story plot for whatever the plans for this series are. Not utilizing this actor to the mix… was a wasted opportunity.
The Decepticons: The antagonist robots have got some more flare and sass than a few of the other portrayals, but something that still blows my mind is that the studio struggles to maximize on some of the heavy hitters the show once had . Don’t get me wrong, the two in this film were still deadly rivals for Bee to fight, but they just lacked depth, and investment again when once more they had the potential to start out on the right foot. Perhaps if there had been more Cybertron, or they had chosen a historical legend to be the main head this would have helped this area, but for now the record of still choosing some nameless borgs rings true ad they need to get a better handle for the next movie.
Okay, the cinematic Transformers is still not perfect, but this movie is definitely a fun installment that greatly improved on the weaknesses the original 5 were holding. With greater character development, a wonderful relationship investment, comedy that worked with the story, and action that was miles better given they used better camera work and coordination, this series could finally get the upgrade it needed. However, the film still needs to find some investment into the other characters for me, and choose the route it wants to take from here as either reboot (my preferred option) or continuation, as this will help make up for a few details and choices that didn’t quite work for me. One thing for certain though is this: the balance of story, character development, and action was miles above the Bay quintology, and proves that special effects is not the answer to Transformers. Definitely worth a trip to theater for the special effects though. My scores are:
Movie Overall: 7.0-7.5