Released: 20th December
Seen: 14th December (Advanced Screening)
Last year the film Transformers: The Last Knight was released to cinemas on June 20th. On July 3rd I walked into a cinema and saw it and I can safely say it was the worst cinematic experience I had in 2017. I hated so much about it, I hated its drab colour scheme and shoddy editing. I hated its stupid dialogue and insipid story. I hated its stupid attempt at using Arthurian mythology. I hated how it wasted legendary actors, and also Mark Wahlberg. I raged about the aspect ratio and the transitions and every aspect of the filmmaking. I raged about that so much that I literally stated that Michael Bay does not know how to make movies. I labelled it the second worst film of the year, and I STILL think I was being very generous when I gave it that title because I don’t know if I should’ve called it a film! So you can imagine how I was not in any way excited about a new Transformers movie. I was prepared to sit there raging in anger and broiling in my own hate-juice while I vomited bile all over the seats around me… and then I went to see the movie, and I got a Christmas miracle.
Bumblebee see’s the titular robot being sent from the planet Cybertron to Earth in order to defend it from the Decepticon’s who are doing battle with the Autobots. Bumblebee crash lands on earth and, after getting into a fight with a Decepticon, has his voice processor torn out of him so he can’t talk and is critically damaged so he turns himself into a Volkswagen Beetle and goes into stasis. He is soon discovered by Charlie Watson (Played by Hailee Steinfeld) who recently lost her father to a heart attack and is going through a rebellious stage. She ends up reviving Bumblbee and the two form a friendship that hopefully will help them stop the incoming decepticons… or at very least, keep them out of the clutches of Officer Jack Burns (Played by John Cena) who is determined to find the space creature.
What I have just described to you is ET but with Robots… or Iron Giant, pick your reference point. Either way, it’s a great framework for this film to go with. With a simple framework that’s already been sorted out, the film is actually allowed to do something that I don’t think any Transformers film has ever done before… it creates likable characters who you don’t want to see explode in a 12 car pile up! Seriously, every character in this film is charming. Charlie is a genuinely touching character with a lot of emotional depth. Jack is an imposing presence who has some of the best lines in the film. Memo (Played by Jorge Lendeborg Jr) plays a charming friend with a crush on Charlie who is also just the most precious thing. The parents didn’t make me hate the concept of family, the people in town didn’t make me wonder if this place was inhabited by mannequins that move, I didn’t hate anyone in this film. HUZZAH FOR PROGRESS!
The robots were also just stunning. It turns out that if you make your Transformers look like they did in the cartoon with bright colours and occasionally silly designs, it will look really good and make it so easy to follow. If you watched any of the other movies, first of all, I’m sorry, second you’ll remember that every fight with the Transformers looks like giant grey vaguely human-shaped things slamming against each other in a sea of dust particles and confusion. This time? I can tell which character is which. Bumblebee is bright and beautiful and I never lost track of where he was. His enemies are bright blue and red so I know exactly where they are on screen! Optimus looks like Optimus, Arcee looks like Arcee, the snozberries taste like snozberries, IT’S BEAUTIFUL!
The cast just feel like they’re having so much fun with this. When the weakest link is John Cena only because he pushed a little too far into ham but was still enjoyable as hell, you know you’ve got something good. The voice case made me so happy. The use of songs for Bumblebee’s voice was such a fun touch that got some good jokes out of it, we got Angela Bassett playing a psychotic transforming car, Optimus Prime sounded exactly like he should sound (Because Hasbro are smart and basically have Peter Cullen on retainer). Every performance was in some way enjoyable, and considering that the last one made me wonder if Anthony Hopkins could act anymore that is saying a huge amount about the quality of the script and the directing that pulled these performances out of these actors.
There are so many amazing set-pieces in this film, both action and comedic. A chase scene with the cops provides so many great moments that show off how incredible Bumblebee is, and that’ll be shortly followed by possibly the best physical comedy ever done by a CGI robot. Everything is well shot, you never get lost about where everyone is because the director put so much love into the film that it honestly shocks me that this is his second time as a director because this film is genuinely incredible. There are some amazing shots, some transitions in this film that actually made me sit back and take notice of the skilful hand that was leading me through this fun joyride. If the people making this film are smart, there will be a dump truck of money on Travis Knights lawn and a dump truck of money on Christina Hodson’s lawn by morning to get them to make as many of these as they possibly can get.
I can’t stress enough how much of a shock it is that this film isn’t just good, it borders on actually perfect. This is the exact film that we should’ve gotten years ago, it’s well written, well directed, well acted, well shot. Everything is actually done well and has fun with the source material. It doesn’t throw around pointless explosions as though that counts as story progression and doesn’t use the camera for cheap objectification of women, it actually understands what the audience wants to see. We want a story about robots punching each other and if you’re going to throw in a human element that we can identify with then make it enjoyable. That’s what this film is, enjoyable. I walked out of there with a smile on my face, a spring in my step and an anticipation for the next one. I hope to god that the producers are paying attention here, make more films like THIS because this is actually a really good movie and if every film in the series were like this, I would be so damn happy.
What did you think of Bumblebee? Are you happy with this new direction for the series? Let me know in the comments below
3 thoughts on “Bumblebee (2018) – More Than Meets The Eye”
Good review – but honestly I couldn’t justify the 1.5 hours it would have taken me in traffic to get to Paramount to see the media screening because as you, I intensely dislike the other ones. I had to leave the Paramount theater last time – just to take a break from how unnecessarily LOUD it was. maybe I missed a somewhat good film because I didn’t feel like driving to the lot, but honestly, I think I’m okay with it! hahahahahaha
Yeah, they definitely haven’t earned that kind of commitment yet. If they make two more good ones to earn the trust then sure but that’s too much… I was just lucky the Event Cinema ten minutes from me was doing an advanced screening.
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