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Film Review: Bumblebee

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It’s not unrealistic to say that Michael Bay’s Transformers series has taken a sharp nosedive in recent years. Thankfully Bumblebee, an 80’s prequel/spin-off, is a welcome return to form and without a doubt the best Transformers film since the first.

Set in California 1987, Bumblebee arrives on earth shortly after a deadly coup and subsequent fall of his home-world, Cybertron. Taking refuge and disguise as a yellow bug in a junkyard, he is found by Charlie, a young woman on the cusp of her 18th and teenage quest to find herself. Together they find solace in their newfound friendship, however once the dreaded Decepticons find him, he and Charlie must find the strength to stop an impending invasion. Bumblebee reinvigorates the Transformers live-action film franchise, from the first remarkable 10 minutes, one knows this is a long-awaited upgrade. Fans of the original cartoon and toys will be pleasantly surprised by the cameos in this first action sequence. What follows is a fun 80’s nostalgia fest with a definite touch of John Hughes and even Spielberg. Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) stepping in as director after Michael Bay, has given the franchise a much needed service and carwash. The story and characters have an arc full of depth and heart. Our human protagonist, Charlie is brought jovially to life by Hailee Steinfeld, whom you can’t help but root for. The other lead, Bumblebee, is a clever mix of E.T. and Frankenstein – clumsy, caring and utterly inquisitive. The CGI and animation on Bumblebee is so life like in his movements, mannerisms and even facial expressions, our invest in him and his story is easy. Effectively the filmmakers cut down on the amount of transformers in the film to basically three, resulting in a far more cohesive and enjoyable plot. John Cena as the typical military mouthpiece is a bit of a bore, however Angela Basset does a fabulous voiced performance as an evil Decepticon.

Bumblebee flatters slightly in its pacing and drive, as it becomes tiresome – it could easily have been 20 minutes shorter. As a whole it isn’t overly amazing and doesn’t quite have the spectacle of the first, but it’s a welcome return to form and a wonderful family film. This is definitely a Transformers movie that kids can enjoy. Knight has wisely layered his film with 80’s nostalgia and a basic character driven story with simpler visual designs, making for a wholly enjoyable film. This is not a robot, it’s a fun family adventure that has transformed a recently rusty franchise on the scape heap, to a sleek heartfelt picture with punch.

Bumblebee
3.5 Our Score
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Pros
80’s setting is fun and takes the edge off some of the naff themes. Steinfeld is a great young actress who can be likeable and still deliver heartfelt moments and drama. The CGI and visual design on Bumblebee are astounding. Its kept straight forward and simple with the relationship between Charlie and Bumblebee being the beating heart of the story and it works.
Cons
The film stays too middle of the road, with the third act not upping the ante enough to warrant an edge of your seat finale. Dare we say it; it could have used a little more Bay-tastic touch here and there.
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As the website founder, innovator and owner of www.screenscoop.com, Kosta Sakellariou is the primary event correspondent for all Sydney based red carpet events. His infatuation and 6th sense instinct for identifying the latest film news have lead to the creation of ScreenScoop, which strives to report, inform and entertain fans who share this same passion around the globe. Get in the loop with #ScreenScoop

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