”Bumblebee” is directed by Travis Knight (not Michael Bay) , who also did “Kubo & the Two Strings” and is the 6th film in the “Transformers” series. During its development, it was put together as a spinoff and prequel to Michael Bay’s film series. But upon post production, it was revealed to a complete reboot of the franchise. The film stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz & Pamela Adlon with Dylan O’Brien, Angela Bassett, Justin Theroux & Peter Cullen all providing voice overs.
After war erupts on Cybertron, the Autobots and their leader, Optimus Prime (Cullen) began to retreat. To ensure their safety, Prime sends his scout soldier, Bumblebee (O’Brien) to Earth to set up base for the surviving Autobots, however he’s followed by 2 decepticons, Shatter (Bassett) & Dropkick (Theroux). On Earth, Bee befriends a teenage girl (Steinfeld) living in California in 1987, who takes him in and tries to protect him only to become hunted by both the Decepticons and the US government led by Lt. Jack Burns (Cena) who witnessed Bee’s arrival and a battle between Bee, Shatter & Dropkick.
This film was definitely an upgrade from the CGI garbage piles that were “Revenge of the Fallen”, “Dark of the Moon”, “Age of Extinction” & “The Last Knight”. Bay’s films relied solely on CGI, beautiful girls & over the top action to tell their story. What Knight did here was make this feel like an 80’s coming of age, buddy comedy while maintaining its action movie pedigree. The 80s nostalgia really worked in this film and wasn’t overused. The look of the Transformers reminded me of the 80s animated movie with call backs to other films like “The Breakfast Club” & “E.T.”. Steinfeld’s performance really carried the emotional weight of the film while John Cena came across a typical action movie villain. His character did seem dull at times but with demeanor & character, Cena brings a complex yet cliche performance. While they’re great moments in the film, it have its predictable action movie moments & plot points. Even though it does call backs to other great movies, it reminds me of “ET”, “The Iron Giant” & others.
Overall, this movie really takes a major step away from the other films and in its own direction. While it is cliche & somewhat predictable, it is still a damn entertaining film and has peaked my interest in the new direction the franchise is going in and I just hope it keeps on from this new version.