BUMBLEBEE: The Droid We Have Been Looking For

After the last few dreaded egomaniacal Michael Bay outings with TRANSFORMERS the world was pretty certain that was the end of it. We could all catch our breath, seek treatment for seizures and counselling for trauma. And then it was announced there would be a new Transformers movie. The collective world rolled their eyes and had a big sigh. BUT – Bay stepped back to Producer role and Travis Knight directs BUMBLEBEE, following on from his masterpiece stop-motion KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS from 2017.

To be honest I just didn’t want to see this, I asked the Kernels to attend and the lovely Kernel Claire stepped in. Claire doesn’t hate and doesn’t love it but reviews from around the world are applauding a newer, fresher Transformers movie, a movie that fans asked for before the Baymonator went insane with the franchise.

BUMBLEBEE is releasing on December 20th in Australia from the fine folks at Paramount Pictures Australia. It will be rated PG (most likely) and runs for 113mins – this one will pack in all the kids these holidays! It should be noted that future bae of Salty, Dylan O’Brien voices Bumblebee, this is very cool trivia! Now enjoy Claire’s review……… happy popcorning……..Salty.


BUMBLEBEE Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Bumblebee and Hailee Steinfeld image
Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Bumblebee and Hailee Steinfeld

BY CLAIRE SMITH

Synopsis – A.K.A: Battle-Droid Story-Line:

A battle wages in Cybertron between the good and honest Autobots and the greedy and spiteful Decepticons. In desperation, the Autobots leader Optimus Prime sends his trusted lieutenant B127 to Earth in order to preserve the future of the Autobots now that Cybertron has fallen to the Decepticons reign. B127 crash lands in a military training zone and after a brief battle with the pursuing Decepticons, which renders him voiceless, he flees to the barren junkyards of Hank’s Auto Salvage in San Francisco Bay Area. 

Angsty teen Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld of TRUE GRIT, EDGE OF SEVENTEEN and PITCH PERFECT 2) is on the verge of turning eighteen and desperate to own her own car. Money is tight in the family so she makes a deal with Uncle Hank of Hank’s Auto Salvage to adopt a busted-up yellow Volkswagen (if she’s able to start it). When Charlie brings the Volkswagen home, she discovers it’s a friendly transforming robot who she befriends and names Bumblebee.

Through bringing this VW back from the dead, she inadvertently activates his homing beacon and the Decepticons are notified of Bumblebee’s whereabouts.

Charlie and Bumblebee must pair up and overcome their fears to save the incoming Decepticon army from overtaking earth as their new empire. 


BUMBLEBEE John Cena, Dropkick and Shatter image
John Cena, Dropkick and Shatter

Worth Mentioning:

The film is definitely geared towards a younger audience. There’s little more than a grazed knee in terms of violence. Even gory human death scenes are sanitised with clear goop instead of red blood. The love interest is very mild – nothing more than a kiss on the cheek and an attempted hand-hold to speak of. My salty guest commented that it’s “Aggressively Young Adult.” If I was fourteen years old, this film would have been an absolute hit. The younger audience members were enthralled in the story. It’s a very simple “good guys vs bad guys” plot that allows the young’uns to stay engaged. There’s not too much there for the adults in order to classify this one as a geek’s dream film, but it’s still good fun. Note to parents: we spotted two instances of the s-word.


BUMBLEBEE image
Bumblebee

The CGI – A.K.A: Weightless Robo-Drawings:

I have a pet peeve with CGI that the characters never feel like they have “weight”. They usually look kind of floaty – like they’re not interacting with the scenery correctly. 

I can’t stomp through my lounge room without jingling the table ornaments or making the TV-stand wobble, but huge robots can throw each other against buildings without so much as a pavement crack or a tree wiggle. Apart from this small peeve (and apologies for mentioning it – you won’t be able to unsee it now) the CGI is pretty smooth in BUMBLEBEE. There’s some really entertaining interactions with cars or other objects which are foreign and new to the Autobot. The transforming animation is completely nostalgia-satisfying with that classic “eee woh waaa” robotic creaking sound effect. 


BUMBLEBEE image
Bumblebee and Dog

Production:

The sound track is deliciously 80’s and will definitely be receiving some repeat plays on Spotify this week. References to The Breakfast Club, The Smiths and Stan Bush’s “The Touch” ballad from the original cartoon-feature made my ears say “yum.”

Costumes and props will definitely give the parents that nostalgia factor – keep an eye out for Beta tapes, VHS and Reel to Reel music systems. The huge array of electronics doesn’t really fit with the family crying poor – but hey, it looks pretty. 

Performances:

We finally get to see John Cena (TRAINWRECK, FERDINAND) play a grime-smeared, vengeance-driven baddie. And bless – he does his best but just comes off a little bit goofy. He’s just too darned loveable. Side note fun fact – John Cena holds the record for granting the most Make-A-Wish wishes for sick kids.

Hailee Steinfeld cuts close to the bone as angsty, demanding, frustrated teen Charlie. Her mood-swings and entitlement will have parents rolling their eyes in recognition. Its a basic storyline to follow for the kidlets, but Steinfeld comes out swinging. Watch this space – the triple-threat singer-songwriter-actor has talent by the bucketload. She has a young Jodie Foster type of energy and it wouldn’t be surprising to see her as a producer/director later in her career. 


BUMBLEBEE Hailee Steinfeld and Bumblebee image
Hailee Steinfeld and Bumblebee

Conclusion:

I read a review on the first transformers film that likened Michael Bay to the Large Hadron Collider – in that he just smashed stuff together and filmed what happened. BUMBLEBEE is directed by Travis Knight (KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS) and so has a more gentle touch to it. It’s not quite enough to convert those with Transformers franchise fatigue to falling in love with the Autobots again. If you have a child who’s BEGGING you to go see it, throw back some popcorn and enjoy the show. If you’re a big fan of Transformers, you wont leave disappointed, if only a little underwhelmed. It’s simple stuff and will definitely leave the kids wanting all the latest Hasbro offerings. Autobots, roll out!




YOUR REVIEWER:

Kernel Claire retired from the Salty Popcorn cob in 2014 with full honors, but was lured back to the shine of the silver screen and the Salt of the Popcorn a mere four years later. When not hand-modelling for Kernel Jason’s food-reviews, Claire can be found scootering through Sydney at a reasonable, defensive driving speed; or fussing far too much over her little black rescue cat Baxter. Claire has worked in the Australian Cinema Industry for over 13yrs and loves it the most when she can report “sometimes I get paid to watch movies”. She’ll pretty much attend any event that includes a lanyard.