‘Bumblebee’ is Old School Transformers Done Right [Review]
Bumblebee brings the Transformers franchise back to its roots, with a lot of heart and wonder, and most importantly, a radical amount of ’80s nostalgia.
With Travis Knight stepping into the director’s chair, the new film is a highly entertaining prequel to the five previous Michael Bay-directed explosion fests. The awesome opening sequence takes place on the Transformers’ home planet of Cybertron, and it looks and feels just like the iconic opening credits of the classic 1980s animated Transformers series that myself and so many others of my generation grew up watching. It’s an immediate, huge step away from the Bay films, instantly announcing that this is the movie that Transformers fans have been waiting for.
Ever since the first live action Transformers movie was released in 2007, with four increasingly over-saturated sequels that followed, the designs of the “robots in disguise” were very different and far less distinguishable than their original cartoon incarnations, which were drawn to actually resemble the toys that we were all spending our allowances on and playing with at home.
Optimus Prime, the fearless leader of the righteous Autobots, appears in the opening battle, facing off against classic members of the evil Decepticons, including Shockwave, Soundwave, and Ravage, and they all look simply better than ever.
But this movie belongs to the small, yellow Autobot who would soon be dubbed “Bumblebee” by his first human friend, after a daring escape from Cybertron and subsequent crash landing on Earth.
Hailee Steinfeld is worlds away from her real life pop singer persona as Charlie, a mullet-haired tomboy on the verge of adulthood, who finds a rusty, broken down yellow Volkswagen beetle in the junkyard she routinely scavenges.
Charlie is essentially “Elliot” to Bumblebee’s “E.T.” in fairly traditional coming of age story that would have been right at home in movie theaters around 1987, which is when the film takes place.
The soundtrack is pitch perfect with decade-appropriate hits throughout, as the title character learns to communicate through finding different songs on the radio that express what he is trying to say, after loosing his voice due to battle damage.
The best Transformers movie since 1986’s Transformers: The Movie, Bumblebee is a heartfelt, fun reminder that there’s always more to each of us than meets the eye.
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
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Bumblebee (rated PG13) is playing locally at RC Theatres in Kill Devil Hills through Jan. 10 (and on Jan. 19 for Pajamas & Popcorn).
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