Bumblebee is the latest film in the Transformers franchise and a prequel to the main line of films. Full of heart, throwback music and a theme of friendship, Bumblebee is a strong edition into the franchise and makes for the most complete film yet. Directed by Travis Knight, Bumblebee takes the audience back to the roots of the characters and creates a focused story centered on one Autobot, Bumblebee. The film has a stark contrast to the Transformers main line. The action is not as robust and the explosions are tones down in exchange for character drama, interactions between man and machine, and a more family friendly approach. Overall, Bumblebee is one of the strongest films in the franchise and a rebirth for the series going forward.
Bumblebee takes place in 1980s California. Centered on 18 year old Charlie and her stereotypical life as a teenager, her world is completely changed when she comes face to face with a creature from another world. After a stunning scene on Cybertron and some amazing Generation 1 moments, Bumblebee is forced to find his place on Earth while also delivering on his mission. With a very Iron Giant feel, Charlie and Bumblebee immediately connect as each other’s only friend. As Charlie helps Bumblebee find himself again, Bumblebee helps Charlie overcome persona loss and her teenage life. While the premise of the film is simple, it works. Bumblebee fully embraces its setting and the characters around it, creating a heartwarming environment for the audience.
Bumblebee definitely has connections to the franchise around it as well. Obviously set as prequel to the Michael Bay films, this movie has some clever ways to tie it all together and bring callbacks to future films in the timeline. Perhaps the best thing about this film are the character designs. Each and every character breaths Generation 1. From Bumblebee, to the villains, to Optimus Prime himself, the characters looks more beautiful than ever. Characters are more streamlined, designs are easier on the eyes and in effect, the visual effects blend in much better. The characters feel embedded in their world. When Optimus Prime is on Cybertron, it feels like you’re watching the animated series. When Bumblebee is stuck in 1980’s California, it feels genuine to the time. This is done with very strong music choices which compliment the main characters, their emotions and their motivations. Once Bumblebee himself joins the mix, everything elevates and truly brings an immersive experience for the audience and longtime fans.
Overall, Bumblebee is a good film, with heartwarming moments and solid acting. The characters are more three-dimensional than ever and the visual effects are great. There are still moments where the film feels a little too simple but it is in line with how the franchise operates. The humor is very meta in its approach, actors like John Cena play their respective roles very straight forward and dry. This works in most places, feels out of place in others. What keeps this film engaging is the relationship between Charlie and Bumblebee. Seeing their friendship and trust grow keeps the film very heartwarming and touching. The film is a bit of a rebirth for a franchise that faltered in recent years and brings a sense of heart and levity back in the characters. Taking the best part of the Michael Bay film, combining it with an emotional core and blending it with streamline generation one designs comes together to make Travis Knight’s Bumblebee a true Transformers experience.