Bumblebee: A Reboot Done Right
Movie Review by Anirudh Madhav (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Bumblebee kicks off in the planet of Cybertron. There is an ongoing war between Autobots and Decepticons. In a brief sequence, Optimus Prime orders his soldier B-127 to travel to Earth and prepare to build a new base for Autobots.
Directed by Travis Knight, Bumblebee has B-127 land in the middle of an army exercise and ends up being chased by Agent Jack Burns (John Cena). At the same time, Decepticon Blitzwing leaves Bumblebee in peril after removing his voice box and erasing his memory. One of the first impressions that Bumblebee gives us is the more solid and realistic touch to the Autobots and Decepticons, especially after the series of massive and loud CGI-robot action in the previous Transformers series. B-127 takes the guise of a Volkswagen Beetle and comes into contact with Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), who fondly names B-127 as Bumblebee.
Even as the main storyline focusses on the Decepticons who have come to find Bumblebee, director Travis Knight has brought out a deep friendship between Bumblebee and a subtle romantic relationship between Charlie and Memo (Jorge Lendeborg jr.). The screenplay by Christina Hudson is reminiscent of the classic 80’s movies like E.T, which explores the friendship with magical or alien characters and Travis elevates the movie with his storytelling and VFX brilliance.
Bumblebee takes a detour from the grandiose bombastic Transformers movies and has an effective storyline, the characters, the Decepticons and Bumblebee has more scope to perform and their emotions are more complex and relatable. The Autobots and Decepticons are aesthetically pleasing and the VFX is more refined and distinct. There are a few sequences where the deep bond between Bumblebee and Charlie is on display. Bumblebee goes on into battle mode and destroys every one of the army vehicles when Charlie seems to be harmed. Hailee Steinfeld excels in her role as a feisty teenager and her mannerisms are right on point. John Cena is convincing as an Army personnel though he does not have a scope to perform.
Travis Knight, who previously directed the animated movie Kubo and the Two Strings, has proved that artistic skill plays a role in the success of a movie. He finds the right balance between robotic action and performance of the characters while blending it into an intelligent storyline. Bumblebee is more childlike, expressive and his blue eyes emote with wonder as much as Charlie’s does when they first meet. Travis’ love for the Transformers’ franchise and retaining the vibe of Steven Spielberg is evident in the way he has brought out character development for the humans and the Autobot Bumblebee. We might not have seen more of Autobots in Bumblebee, but it’s definitely a brilliant origin story and there is more to come. A successful reboot for the Transformers franchise and a Transformers movie that we were waiting for.