REVIEW: Bumblebee, set in the 1980s, is the best Transformers film by some distance

PUBLISHED: 11:23 26 February 2019

Bumblebee Movie

Bumblebee Movie

Archant

Bumblebee, the first spin-off of the successful, but critically maligned, Transformers series, sees director Michael Bay hand the reigns over to Travis Knight, director of Kubo and Two Strings for this prequel to the 2007 original.

Bumblebee, the first spin-off of the successful, but critically maligned, Transformers series, sees director Michael Bay hand the reigns over to Travis Knight, director of Kubo and Two Strings for this prequel to the 2007 original.

Set in 1987, the film follows 18-year-old Charlie played by the excellent Hailee Steinfeld, who finds the Autobot Bumblebee, battle scarred and broken in small Californian junkyard.

After reviving the robot, who has the ability to disguise itself as a VW Beetle, Charlie must help Bumblebee evade capture by the evil Decepticons as well as the government agencies who are on his tail.

Bumblebee is a more modest affair than previous instalments in the series and focuses much more on character rather than action and explosions.

It’s more a coming of age drama which happens to feature robots, and not the all out orgy of destruction that these films usually become.

Steinfeld is outstanding and somehow manages to generate great chemistry with the huge CGI robot.

Bumblebee himself has a much softer and simpler design than in previous films which will please fans of the 80s cartoon, plus, the character has a childlike charm reminiscent of Chappie, the droid from Neill Blomkamp’s 2015 gem.

Knight, known for animation, is also much more adept at choreographing the action scenes. He makes it easy for the viewer to tell what’s happening with clear and uncomplicated visuals, something that cannot be said for other Transformers films.

He also leans heavily into the eighties setting, with plenty of nods to the era and a soundtrack full of choice eighties tunes.

On the downside, the supporting cast is rather weak.

Jorge Lendborg’s love interest, Memo, is a little bland and wrestler turned actor John Cena shows he is no Rock, with a wooden performance as government Agent Burns.

On the whole however, this is a charming film, full of heart and 80s Nostalgia. It may be a very low bar, but Bumblebee is the best Transformers film by some distance.

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