Film Review: Bumblebee

In the age of reboots, Bumblebee is the perfect example of how a beloved franchise should be reimagined for the big screen.

Michael Bay’s foray into the Transformer’s universe left many longtime fans jaded and unhappy with the changes he made to the look and feel of the characters. One of my biggest complaints from those previous films was the actual character designs for the Transformers themselves. Luckily, Bumblebee uses the classic designs from the original cartoon. The character’s themselves retain their original aesthetic, bringing back fond memories of my favorite childhood characters. Seeing Soundwave back in his boom-box form, as well as Bumblebee returning to the iconic VW Beetle design was a genius way to incorporate the nostalgic look of the franchise with a slightly updated, modern feel.

Another successful change that was introduced was the emphasis on a small cast of Transformers, as opposed to the bloated rosters from previous films. Though viewers are given glimpses of franchise mainstays such as Optimus Prime and Soundwave during the opening battle on Cybertron, most the of the film is centered on Bumblebee and his Decepticon antagonists, Dropkick and Shatter. This reduced number allowed the story to develop both Bumblebee’s struggle to assimilate into his new Earthly home and the Decepticon’s motivations for destroying Bumblebee. This scaled back approach even translated into the action and fight scenes. Viewers are now able to appreciate all the nuances that make Transformers unique, such as the detail of the characters themselves when they transform from their robot forms into their vehicular disguises. These transitions occur smoothly, without the overuse of visual effects that distorted these scenes in previous films.

Though the visuals were outstanding, the main story was the most heartfelt and cohesive in the live action Transformer franchise. Focusing on the bond between Bumblebee and Hailee Steinfeld’s character Charlie, this was an emotional film that gives insight into the alienation that brings Bumblebee and Charlie together and strengthens their bond. Though this was attempted in 2007’s Transformers film, the difference between Shia Lebouf’s interaction with Bumblebee feels wooden when compared to Stienfeld’s emotional bond with the iconic character.

Verdict – 9/10 – It seems as if the filmmakers have listened to their audience’s grievances from the last films and have made all the necessary changes to reboot the franchise into a property that embraces its history and leaves the door wide open for a slew of sequels. Hopefully the inevitable sequels will be just as entertaining and nostalgic as this one.

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