Most people who know me, know that I’m just a big kid at heart. I have the most childish passions, which are probably what led to me creating two journalism websites focussing on film, television, and games. A favourite subject of mine that traverses all three of those elements is the Transformers universe. Bumblebee is the latest film instalment of said universe, and centres around the incredibly popular mute Autobot, and how he made it to our little Planet Earth.
Directed by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings, The Boxtrolls), Bumblebee, was described by my partner as, “More interesting, because instead of just fighting and robots, it had people and story development”. Whilst I think this is a huge spit in the face of other Transformers films, I can see her point. Knight has made the film exponentially more approachable and appealing to a wider range of viewers, and that even goes to the cast, starring the popular singer/actress Hailee Steinfeld (my partner convinced me she was the daughter of comedian Jerry Seinfeld… Don’t even ask) and of course our main robotic Autobot hero, Bumblebee.
The film opens up with the fall of Cybertron, something that fans of the series will have seen countless times. But in this instalment, we are taking direct into the final minutes where Optimus Prime sends Bumblebee to Earth to protect it from the inevitable Decepticon attack, and wait for what remains of the Autobot forces. On Earth, it’s the year 1987, Bumblebee lands in the middle of Military training grounds, and despite reassurances that he poses no harm, is immediately attacked. What follows is the tragic telling of the loss of Bumblebee’s voice box, to the mighty Autobot warrior taking the shape of a VW Beetle before shutting down. Enter Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), a budding mechanic on the eve of her 18th birthday who stumbles upon the yellow VW and brings it back to life, finding out that her little car is in fact an Alien! Through the traumatic events, of the opening scene, Bumbebee has no memories, nor any idea of what he is doing on Planet Earth.
What follows is a rather run of the mill plot, which, while cliché, is still an interesting and engaging watch. There are lots of interesting little moments in the film, such as the creation of the internet thanks to Decepticon technology, and the classic central character growing alongside her Alien counterpart as they both learn more about themselves. It’s something we’ve seen 1000 times, but Knight managed to make it just endearing enough to not feel stale.
The special effects and cinematography are breathtaking, and the entire film is a spectacle to watch. I watched it in both standard and in iMax in Singapore (which is definitely the best way to see it) and in both cinemas, it was a true joy to behold. The sound was crisp, and the soundtrack perfectly relayed the era of the film, whilst not feeling like it was trying to hard to imitate an old school soundtrack of another popular series of films.
Bumblebee, is a must watch for any fan of the Transformers universe, as well as anyone looking for a good, family fun film to watch. The best part is that you could bring someone with you, with little to no understanding of the universe, and not only will they understand it, but chances are they’ll enjoy it almost as much as you. Oh and you get to see Bumblebee take on the shape of the Camaro that Sam Witwicky gets in the 2007 Transformers film which was a nice nod.