Rob Reviews "Bumblebee"
Sometimes, a reboot is okay. Especially when less is more (so to speak).
The “Transformers” film franchise has gotten so far off the beaten path that it overshot making it back around. From Texas accents that didn’t even exist to the promise of Dinobots that did not live up to the hype and even a King Arthur storyline I personally did not even bother with, one of my favorite childhood properties hurt my soul with its level of terrible. So you can imagine my malaise when a prequel focusing on Bumblebee was announced, but when “Kubo and the Two Strings” director Travis Knight was attached, my attention was captured. Add to that a Rotten Tomatoes rating that was over 95% and I was even more intrigued, and the fact that this has been the lowest budgeted film of the franchise. And trust me here: it does not disappoint.
Taking place before the films as Bee is sent to Earth after the fall of Transformer home planet Cybertron in 1987, he finds himself a stranger in a strange land as he runs from the government led by Agent Burns (John Cena) and the Decepticons hunting him down in Dropkick (Justin Theroux) and Shatter (Angela Bassett) while also finding a friend in Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) and her new friend Memo (Jorge Lendenborg Jr.).
Let’s just cut to the chase here: reboot this franchise and start HERE. This is the “Transformers” movie that I have waited for since I was a kid with great action (the opening sequence starts this thing on fire and it goes from there), a strong storyline that hits all of the right notes by adding comedy and emotion to round itself out, and fun performances that make sure to fit themselves into the time frame. There will be some that criticize Cena’s performance, but for me he was making a decision to play the ‘80s style soldier that was a signature of portrayals for the decade. Visually, this is nothing short of flawless by showing Bee as the soldier that still does not quite know what to think of his new surroundings while being the “runt of the litter” when it comes to the Autobots as well as his nemeses and friends that will give the most fanboys amongst us to have that “geek out” moment multiple times in this film. I am constantly amazed on the advances that are made to visual effects, and they are full on display here.
While “Bumblebee” may be seen as a risk to most, it pays off in the biggest of ways by deciding to take one of the most beloved of secondary characters in the “Transformers” universe and giving him the chance to shine in a one-shot that delivers a great couple of hours to spend at the theater. If this is available in a “premium format,” that may make it even more fun to watch, whether by yourself or in a group of people, and the latter may be the better bet if you surround yourself with fellow geeks to catch as many of the Easter Eggs as possible.