Bumblebee is a refreshing change to the Transformers franchise

Left+to+right%3A+Hailee+Steinfeld+as+Charlie+and+Bumblebee+in+BUMBLEBEE%2C+from+Paramount+Pictures.
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Bumblebee is a refreshing change to the Transformers franchise

Left to right: Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie and Bumblebee in BUMBLEBEE, from Paramount Pictures.

Left to right: Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie and Bumblebee in BUMBLEBEE, from Paramount Pictures.

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Left to right: Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie and Bumblebee in BUMBLEBEE, from Paramount Pictures.

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Left to right: Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie and Bumblebee in BUMBLEBEE, from Paramount Pictures.

Brendan Sheardy, Staff Writer

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     Bumblebee is a prequel to the previous five “Transformers” movies and follows Charlie, a young teenager who buys her first car in 1987, which turns out to be the transformer Bumblebee. This film is directed by Travis Knight and stars Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena.

     The Transformers franchise has been held to much criticism over the past eleven years, with each installment getting worse reviews and making less money than the last. Many have placed the blame on producer and director Michael Bay, who was in full control of every previous movie in this franchise. This is the first film in the franchise that is not directed by Michael Bay, and his absence from the project is immediately felt, as this is the first good Transformers movie.

     Travis Knight allows the audience to finally sit back and enjoy a Transformers movie. He does this by keeping the story simple and small-scale. Outside of the opening war sequence on Cybertron, there is a maximum of three transformers in this film, and each is given something to do. In the past, especially in Revenge of the Fallen, there was an abundance of Transformer characters spanning to about 30 per movie. Each had about 10 minutes of screen time and didn’t do much to propel the story or their character. In Bumblebee, however, it focuses on just one Autobot and two Decepticons, which makes it a less bloated and overstuffed film than previous installments.

     Knight also has a much better grasp on how to compose an entertaining action sequence that is completely computer-generated. This comes as no surprise, since his last film was the excellent stop-motion animation picture Kubo and the Two Strings, which had fantastic animated action. In Bumblebee, the action is mostly filmed in wides and have very few cuts, which allow the audience to actually see what was happening in the scene, where in previous installments, it was difficult to make out what was going on in Michael Bay’s shaky-cam style of action.

     Hailee Steinfeld was terrific as Charlie Watson. I was sceptical going in because she spent the majority of production acting to a completely animated character, but it doesn’t feel like she was. Her back and forth with Bumblebee is all delivered with perfect comedic timing, which is a huge feat considering she wasn’t speaking to anyone. Her character, Charlie, was also developed very well. She has a heartbreaking backstory that is actually used to progress her as a character, and also strengthens her relationships with Bumblebee and other characters.

     The film is at it’s best when Charlie and Bumblebee are interacting together. There are a lot of great comedic moments with Bumblebee trying to adapt to the human world, and Charlie teaching him how to stay hidden.

  One of my favorite scenes was a moment when Charlie and her friend, Memo, take Bumblebee to help them egg a girl’s house, because Bumblebee does something so hilarious to the girl’s car, you’ll know it when you see it. It’s the little moments that make this movie so charming and fun to watch, and these moments tower over any action scene you can throw into a film like this.

     However, this isn’t a perfect film. There is a subplot following “Sector 7”, a secret government division, which is trying to track down Bumblebee after their first encounter early in the film. This subplot does get very boring and it doesn’t have a lot of interesting moments. John Cena plays the lead member of this organization, Agent Burns, and his character was one-dimensional and came across as cheesy and over the top. This is due to a mix of cheesy one-liners and John Cena’s poor performance.

     The villains were very flat, as well. They had nothing special about them or any development at all. They are just mid-level decepticons with basic motivations. Their only purpose was to give Bumblebee something to fight, which was disappointing.

     Finally, many fans of the franchise will notice that the major plot points of this film don’t line up at all with the original series. I won’t go far into it, because it does contain massive spoilers, but when you try to connect this film with the first Transformers, the entire film falls apart.

     Overall, I had a great time watching Bumblebee. The lead characters were well developed, and the action was entertaining and well composed. It’s not perfect, but it’s a massive step forward for the Transformers franchise. This is a film worth seeing and I recommend you check it out when it releases in theaters on Dec. 21.

     Rating: 6/10

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Bumblebee is a refreshing change to the Transformers franchise