MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Travis Knight
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.
Runtime: 1 hr 54 minutes
What It Is: An origin story about a well known alien robot from the Transformers franchise taking place in the late ’80s.
What We Think: The most recent installment of the popular Transformers franchise, and in my opinion, the most wholesome. Bumblebee takes a different approach in storytelling than did its formers films; it engages its audience more in the quality of the character rather than the thrill of the fight. For starters, the character B-127, or Bumblebee, isn’t made out to be some lame sidekick in a dangerous Earth-brought alien war where, somehow, it’s up to the lame human to save everyone. The film makes it apparent that although Bumblebee’s alliance with a compassionate girl makes his own mission easier, this is still Bumblebee’s fight. We see a more drawn out character in the otherwise quirky little franchise mascot this character once was; Bumblebee is his own individual with his own purpose in life separate from that of his human companion as well as the other Autobots.
I was happy to see that the film didn’t lack in the area of spectacular action-packed fight scenes and life-threatening emergencies. Yes, there is a huge focus on giving Bumblebee a chance to shine in his own spotlight for once, but there is still an alien war going on! Bee’s wanted as a fugitive by headhunters from his home planet, and the makers of this film were exceptional in piling on the explosive violence this franchise is well known for. Best of all, Bumblebee’s personhood, his moment to truly be his own character, isn’t lost among all the chaos. We get spoonfuls of personality and consciousness and genuineness that is lost in translation in prior live action films of this franchise.
Our Grade: B+, Not a tearjerker or a thought provoker, but definitely a feature worth 114 minutes of anyone’s life. Prior knowledge or even interest in films that came before really isn’t even necessary; this most recent installment is dense enough to stand on its own. Hell, it would’ve been great if they started with this instead but it is what it is. Bumblebee is that blockbuster must-go-see feature on the big screen right now. Definitely worth the hype.