Bumblebee is the next film stemming from the Transformers franchise. Featuring the fan-favorite Autobot, Bumblebee, the film is set in the '80s when the alien robots make their first contact on earth. The film is an origin story, that tells the tale of Bumblebee’s arrival on earth, in an attempt to make a new home for the Autobots after the conflict on Cybertron. Of course, things don’t go as planned and Bumblebee finds himself in a mess he has to get out of as soon as possible, but human beings are notorious for fearing things they do not understand and Bumblebee ends up on a chase of a lifetime.
At some point, he turns himself into a yellow Volkswagen Beetle and is found by a young girl named Charlie. The teen, is smitten with the car and after starting it up, she drives it to her place and get to work on fixing up what she believes is a regular old vehicle in need of a tune-up. But what she gets is far from her average Volkswagen and while she gets more than she bargained for, she also gained a new friend in the process in Bumblebee. A great film for the entire family, Bumblebee had some ups and downs (mostly ups), but it was definitely one of the better films from the Transformers realm. Below is a list of some of the films most liked and disliked elements, but be sure to know that the film has a lot more good going for it than bad and is definitely one worth watching this weekend.
Warning: Spoilers for Bumblebee ahead.
Often overlooked, a soundtrack is an important part of a film. Not only are the songs used to convey the feelings and moods within the movie, but they typically also say a lot about the character or characters they are attached to in the film. In Bumblebee, this is no different.
The songs that Charlie plays or listens to genuinely mean something to her, or are reflective of her current mood, or state of mind in the film and it works great. The soundtrack for Bumblebee is full of '80s hits. From The Smiths, to Duran Duran, there are plenty of recognizable '80s tunes for everyone to enjoy.
While some of the cliches found in the film were expected due to it being elements typically found in some other action movies, but a few of them left a little to be desired. Without saying much (we don’t want to spoil anything), most of it came in the form of Charlie’s fellow high school students -- more specifically the clique of mean girls that do their best to make Charlie’s life hell.
Again, this is not a big issue in the grand scheme of things, because ultimately it is not something that outweighs the good of the movie. Still, it would have been nice to have a little less cliches in the narrative.
There is something that is definitely special about the '80s. It’s one of those decades where there’s no mistaking the things that came from it (the music and fashion sense, specifically) and Bumblebee did a great job of recreating the decade with the wardrobe, soundtrack and even things like the video game, Pong.
There was certainly a lot of nostalgia for those who grew up in the decade could appreciate, especially since Transformers had their debut back in the '80s. Not only did the film pay homage to the decade in which the Transformers created, it also introduced some of the younger generation to the Transformers’ start.
While the action sequences were well done, there were a lot of moments that included action just for action’s sake. There was nothing impactful or meaningful about it, and it seemed as though it was just added in as filler or to try to wake the audience up after a few of the lower-key moments.
The film probably would have been served with better or different moments of levity, like more humor or some more time spent between Charlie and Bumblebee. It would have been better to have action that meant something or lead to an end goal. Just because it’s an action film, doesn’t mean the action has to be forced into the plot haphazardly.
The relatability of the movie was surprising. There were so many instances where the audience could see a scene and would likely have felt as though they were in Charlie’s shoes. The theme of bullying, not fitting in or not being the popular kid at school, dealing with a death in the family that are likely things that the majority of people have experienced at one time or another.
This was an element of Bumblebee that truly allowed the film to shine. Not only did it give the audience something to connect to, it also showed that the film was about more than just giant fighting robots.
Now, it’s highly likely that we all have that one annoying family member that often gets on our nerves. The problem in Bumblebee is that almost all of Charlie’s immediate family falls into this category. It was annoying that Charlie’s mother didn’t really ever want to hear her daughter out, her stepdad Ron wasn't exactly helpful and her kid brother Otis was a pest.
Even at Charlie’s birthday, her family didn’t even go out of their way to give her thoughtful gifts. Obviously, it’s not all about presents, but it would have been nice had they picked something that Charlie actually would have liked (although one gift does make a reappearance later in the movie).
It’s very often in action films that there’s some kind of added element of romance, and usually, it’s never really necessary. It just feels as though it’s added because it’s what’s expected of people. Besides, there’s nothing worse in a movie than a forced romance with zero chemistry between the characters.
However, in Bumblebee, that is not the case. Thankfully, the audience is not subjected to a forced or rushed romance. While it’s evident from the film that Memo likes Charlie, the film centers around them as friends -- clearly marking that the two “aren’t there yet” in terms of a romantic relationship.
Now, while John Cena had a few good comedic scenes in Bumblebee, his presence as a whole wasn’t really necessary and the role could have been played by any number of actors to the same affect. There was nothing new or different added to the movie by Cena’s character of Agent Burns being in the film, other than adding another level of stress to Bumblebee’s and Charlie’s lives.
The character wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t great either. The movie would have been pretty much the same with or without Agent Burns and if Agent Burns was a must, then any other actor could have played him with ease.
Just like its predecessors, the action scenes in Bumblebee were great and since the majority of the film was only the little yellow Autobot, it was great that he could put all of his powers on display. From fighting alongside his fellow Autobots, to defending his new friend, Charlie, Bumblebee puts on quite the show.
Of course, with a Transformers film, the action sequences were expected, but that didn’t mean they were guaranteed to be good. Fighting against Decepticons that were bigger than him, Bumblebee definitely stood his ground and fought against his enemies with a ton of heart. It was clear that a lot of thought went into the action and it truly came through on the big screen.
Part of the lore of Transformers is Cybertron. It was clear that the film began in a way that assumed the audience had already seen the other films, or knew about the Transformers in general. The opening scene on Cybertron was really well done, and it was unfortunate that it happened so quickly.
It was an action-packed moment, but it didn’t last as long as fans would hope. It would have been nice to have more time on Cybertron, versus some other moments in the film. Granted, the film is about Bumblebee, however it does also serve as a precursor to the Transformers world, so a little more time on Cybertron would have been great to see.
Many films need humour to add some levity to the sometimes dire circumstances their protagonists find themselves surrounded by. In this sense, Bumblebee is no different. The movie needed the funny moments to balance out some of the emotional sequences, or those with higher stakes. It helped that the jokes in Bumblebee were actually funny and it the comedic timing was always just right -- none of the jokes felt out of place.
The jokes within the movie were relatable and typically tied into the awkwardness of Memo, or Charlie’s pseudo-rivalry with her younger brother, Otis. The comedy in the film really gave a moment of shine to each of the characters and it was truly fun to watch.
Due to the lack of time spent on Cybertron, there wasn’t much time spent with Optimus Prime or the other Autobots. Unfortunately because of this, we didn’t really get to see much of Bumblebee’s interactions with his teammates and we didn’t get to spend much time hearing his voice, and how he really communicated with his comrades.
Of course, the film is about Bumblebee, however the scene on Cybertron could have had a fight that included the Autobots working together, or perhaps they could have made an appearance in another way. In a way, it almost felt like something was missing due to the fact that the majority of Bumblebee’s interactions were with Decepticons. Yeah, more Autobots would have been nice.
Angela Bassett is one of those people who has a very distinct and recognizable voice and as the Decepticon, Shatter, this doesn't change. Bassett brought an authoritativeness to the character with ease. There was no mistaking the fact that Shatter was a Decepticon that one didn’t want to mess with.
Bassett brought an added layer of cool to the character with her voice work and was a pleasant surprise in the movie. Shatter was a formidable foe and the fight scenes that included the Decepticon tasked to find Bumblebee were great. It would have been great to see more of Shatter, but luckily what the audience did get was a lot of fun.
Dropkick was a Decepticon that wasn’t really needed -- most of the lines he had could have just been delivered by Shatter. In fact, it would have been better if the first Decepticon that Bumblebee goes up against was the the one who was helping Shatter track him down. Perhaps he wanted to get some vengeance, or teach Bumblebee another lesson.
However, what we get is the Decepticon sidekick, who is clearly not the brains of the operation; that’s all Shatter. The coolest thing he does is turn into a helicopter, and the car he turned into was legit. Also, still trying to figure out why he was dubbed Dropkick -- he didn’t dropkick anyone, or do anything remotely that cool.
Both Hailee Steinfeld and Jorge David Lendeborg Jr. were great in their respective roles of Charlie and Memo. Both actors were utterly believable as the dynamic duo and their chemistry with one another was great. The two were fun to watch both separately and together in Bumblebee and it’s likely that the film wouldn’t have been the same had there been other actors playing the roles of Memo and Charlie.
It’s likely that the characters will have some kind of impact on the audience as they’re both really likable and relatable, thanks to the acting chops of Steinfeld and Lendeborg Jr.
In Bumblebee, we find out just how the Autobot lost his voice. While it was cool to see the origin story behind this, it was a bit of a letdown that we didn’t get to hear Bumblebee speak too much. Due to this, it made drastically less of an impact when he finally does lose it.
It didn’t help that Bumblebee was voiced by Dylan O’Brien. As we previously said, we don’t get to hear much of Bumblebee’s voice, but considering that there is nothing all that special or memorable about O’Brien’s voice, Bumblebee could have been voiced by any other actor and warrant the same results.
Director Travis Knight brought some new and distinct touches to this latest film in the Transformers franchise. Most definitely a family film, Knight did a great job in making sure there was a little something for everyone in the family. It was evident from watching that Knight had a clear vision that he set out to achieve and it translated well on-screen.
From the subtlety of the comedic timing, to the touching heartfelt moments, Knight made a good Transformers film that was honestly fun to watch from beginning to end. Although Bumblebee was said to be a standalone, here’s hoping that Knight will be able to direct another Transformers film in the near future.
Another downside to Bumblebee was the length. When it was getting toward the latter half of the movie, it was starting to feel as if it was going on for a little too long. Clocking in at just under two hours, certain parts of the film felt as though they were much longer, specifically when there was not much going on around the mid-way point of the movie.
Thankfully, the ending of the movie made up for some of that because the end did carry most of the action sequences. However, this is just a small dislike in comparison to all the great things in the movie.
Charlie and Bumblebee make for a great duo. The film’s script makes it clear that the pair were meant to find one another and bring out the best in each other. The two are both misfits, trying to fit into this world that is not always kind or understanding. But when they find one another, they learn that they don’t have to be alone and within one another have found a friendship that can last a lifetime.
The film thrives on the heart that come from Bumblebee’s and Charlie’s friendship, and it does a great job of showing the characters in both their highs and lows, adding to the overall feel good message of the film.
While the point of Bumblebee’s memory loss served its purpose, it also seemed like an element to the writing that was unoriginal and a little bit lazy. A bout of memory loss is nothing new, and it might have served the film better to have something else going on with the diminutive Autobot in lieu of the memory loss. It put a hindrance on the meaning on the other plot about the Autobots being sent to protect earth.
Also, the way the film was going, it took too long for Bumblebee to regain his memory and because of this, some of the action at the end of the film didn’t last as long as it probably should have.