BumbleBee Did Not Stumble For Me

Bumblebee Poster

 

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)

 

Director:

Travis Knight

Writers:

Christina Hodson (screenplay by), Christina Hodson(story by)

Stars:

Hailee SteinfeldDylan O’BrienMegyn Price

 

 

LIKES:

 

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.

 

DISLIKES:

 

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.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            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:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0-7.5

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Transformers: Action In Disguise

Transformers 5

 

Decades ago, they were toys that dominated the shelves of the local dispenser.  Next came comic books and a hit animated movie that set off a chain of events resulting in a number of animated series.  And in 2007, Michael Bay tackled the challenge of bringing them to life in the big screen motion picture event of the summer.  Now, ten years later…he is still trying to keep the series alive with a fifth installment. Despite all the bad reviews of previous film, DreamWorks still believes in this big budget money raking machine.  Has Bay learned from his mistakes, or have we yet another special effect wreck on our hands.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Animation/Ending:  DreamWorks animation studios still has their finger on the pulse of animation.  Once more their studio proves they can make the fiction world come to life in stunning realism, filling the 2.5 hours with fluid motion, breathtaking special effects, and dynamic sequences.  Bay’s fixation on the special effects continues to shine through in the pyrotechnic, CGI laden visuals that fill the silver screen.  This is great for the last 45 minutes, where the high speed, action packed climax comes to life, infusing adrenaline into the theater and getting things ramped up.  Nice work again guys!

 

Funny:  From the get go, Bay’s writing team has set out to bring laughs amidst the acting (which is about the only thing he is good at bringing). Good news, the 2.5 hours brings plenty of laughs to the mix.  Bantering is certainly the mainstay of the film, but Transformers 5 has a few other bouts of whit, cleverness, and fun to add to the mix.  I found myself laughing at a number of insults to the ridiculousness of the film, and some well-timed quips from a few of the robots and special guest actor Anthony Hopkins.  Speaking of which…

 

Actor/Actress:  I agree with my fellow reviewers that Anthony Hopkins stole the show in this film.  His charming delivery mixes well with the vigor that an old historian of the transformers would certainly hold.  Hopkins delivers his lines in that elegant poise he’s famous for and creates a wonderful character to alleviate from the other humans that inhabit this film.  Certainly, guys like Wahlberg, Duhamel, and newcomer Isabella Moner do a fine job, but they don’t hold a candle to the majesty of this seasoned actor.  Nice pick casting director.  In addition, the new leading lady Laura Haddock is a fantastic addition as well.  Trading characters that are purely sex appeal, for beautiful, respectable, and powerful woman is an A+ in my book.  Haddock has poise much like her other English counterpart, and blew me away at how much I liked the character.  She was a beautiful addition in more ways than one.  Nice work guys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Human focus:  For a movie titled after giant robots, you would think there would be more focus on them.  Bay once again chose to forego his expensive artificial crafted creations for his real-life actors.  I just ask why?  Transformers has always had human components, but not as the main focus.  In the Last Knight though, it’s all about the human backstories in this film, and trying to wedge them into the story to keep you engaged.  Not the smartest movie, and the amidst the story, the attempt at all these new characters with backstories just didn’t work.

Jam packed story:  Remember the last Transformers movie and the eight plots it had?  Yeah, it gives me shudders too. Unfortunately, the storyboard writers didn’t listen to the last set of reviews, because Last Knight once again is jam packed with multiple stories all trying to wedge their way to the front.  The result is another rushed, sloppy mess that fails to put an engaging story into the midst.  Part treasure hunt, part emerging threat, part character testing for Optimus on top of all the character issues floating around, was just too much to grasp.  And the unifying factor tying all of them together was pretty weak again.  Certainly, the Transformers have never been strong stories, but they have been better and less of a stretch than this mess.  Such a deconstructed plot was not entertaining and left little to ground the action too outside of the finale.

 

Action deficits:  It’s an action movie and as a result you would like to see a chunk of the 2.5 hours filled with the special effects they were so focused on.  Once more this movie fails.  After a decent opening sequence (amidst a hasty opening), the film starts to hit the brakes on the action department.  In an attempt to story build, they extend to drawn out explanations and more comedic banter that wasn’t necessary.  Had the story been worth it, I would have given them props, but nope, just added fluff that wasn’t that engaging to me.  Certainly, there were some fast driving scenes and a quick history of fighting, but these were short lived.  Not cool guys.

 

Unbalanced Robots:  Ever since the second film, Transformers movie have been awful about utilizing all of their creations.  Optimus and Bumblebee take the lead again, and the rest of the Autobus have their moments to “shine.”  Hound, Hotrod, and Squirt get a few gimmicks here, but others like the dingbats and Drift are barely needed having little lines or involvement in the movie.  And the Decepticons, after a major introduction were even more pathetic at being underutilized.  If you’re going to go to depths to recruit cars and voice actors, do something with them!

 

The VERDICT:

 

Transformers the Last Knight showed promised from the trailers as returning to the action roots we loved.  Too bad it didn’t deliver to the level the first production did years ago.  While animation and acting were bullseyes, the rest of the movie is a disproportioned mess with too much going on.  A weak story focusing on humans going on an extensive search and find didn’t do much for engaging plot, and the inability to focus on a plot made it even worse.  Throw in a lack of action and underutilizing of all the other robots and more points get derailed.  While this certainly isn’t the last installment, Transformers needs some repairs to bring it back to the light. Outside of the special effects, this movie isn’t necessarily one for the big screen. 

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0