After five “Transformers” films (all of which I have seen in their theatrical run), my expectations for a sixth were very low, especially given how bad last year’s “The Last Knight” was. With Travis Knight taking over for Michael Bay for the prequel focusing on “Bumblebee,” I had a bit of hope from the director of “Kubo and the Two Strings, and it does not disappoint.
Starting out with an all-out robot war on Cybertron that is amazingly done without looking sloppy or fuzzy, the Autobots are forced off of their home planet with B-127 (and would take on his famous moniker later on) sent to Earth to find them a new base. He encounters Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), who is dealing with the loss of her father a year prior and is about to celebrate her 18th birthday. As they help each other with their respective problems, the military is hot on their tale led by Agent Burns (who is allegedly played by John Cena, but I could never quite make him out… <rimshot>) as well as the Decepticons themselves that want to wipe him out completely.
Knight shows more care and understanding for this subject material in his first live-action film than most others do after decades of practice, and I would not be shocked to see some nominations coming his way in the near future. This film is nearly flawless as it is able to connect to every demographic on some level. The “PG-13” rating seems higher than it should. Stanfield is also a standout by taking a well-written character and playing her perfectly, conveying the strain of a teenage girl dealing with tragedy and evolving her without the tired storytelling devices of the hated step-parent (although there is one, but hatred is not really a factor) or the overwhelming desire to be loved.
Cena is a bit of a sticking point for me as he comes across very wooden, but this could have been done intentionally in order for his ‘80s style of military man could be shown to fit into the framework of this narrative.
There are also some Easter Eggs here that even I seemed to missed, as they were pointed out to me later by those on our cast that are more seasoned and entrenched in the mythos that I am. I would say to catch them all, at least make sure to check out 1987’s “The Transformers: The Movie” and then check this out as soon as you can!