Bumblebee pushes character to the front seat of the franchise for the first time. It may lose some of the explosion-fest action because of this but the trade-off leaves us with a Transformers movie you don’t have to be embarrassed about liking.
Score: 4 / 5
I’ve never had an issue with the Transformers movies. I like the first movie, have a bias for seeing my home city of Chicago blown to bits in the third, and the fifth has a bonkers Anthony Hopkins character. For me it’s always been the odd entries that I have had a good time with but Bumblebee changes that. Even if it’s a re-launch spin-off thing, Bumblebee is still a Transformers movie, just for the first time a movie that has more than robots beating the bejeezus out of each other.
The opening of this movie is the best opening of any Transformers movie bar none. I won’t spoil it but it’s a tiny tiny slice of what most fans of the cartoons will love and I hope that Paramount finds a way to make a whole movie just about THAT.
Removed from that scene what you are getting is a Transformers movie with more to show than just robots fighting. This entry has a huge drop in action scenes and instead tells a more focused story about a daughter dealing with loss while trying to find her place in the world. She just happens to have stumbled on an alien robot in the midst of her soul searching.
Hailee Steinfeld delights as Charlie, the daughter I mentioned above. This movie would not have worked without Steinfeld’s performance. This may be a light hearted movie but it sure does deal with some heavy themes and she sells it. The dynamic between Charlie and Bumblebee is a joy to watch, especially as both characters evolve throughout the movie. The rest of the cast doesn’t stand out to much a degree, which is fine because you really just want to see more of the two leads in the movie.
While the action may be cut down, when it does appear, it’s so much easier to follow. It may be that less things explode, or that the camera doesn’t cut fifty times but it just works. Visually it holds up just as well as any of the other Transformers movies, especially that opening scene. I’m sorry, I can’t help but bring that up again, I think it’s fair to say it’s hands down my favorite scene from any Transformers movie period.
In terms of the typical end of the world Transformers stakes, this movie does contain them, it’s just not as overwhelming, and it’s not the focus of the story. The fans of the franchise may be disappointed by this but I’d honestly be just fine with more Transformers movies in this style moving forward. Like the other big holiday action adventure movie Aquaman, Bumblebee is just plain fun, and is definitely worth a trip down to a theater.