Bumblebee, the brand new Transformers movie, is out in cinemas across the land from 24th December (Christmas Eve!). To celebrate the release, we look at ten reasons why we think Bumblebee is the best live-action Transformers movie ever made.
Bumblebee plays out like a classic 1980s family movie or even a John Hughes teen comedy if you can believe that. But the nuts and bolts of a proper Transformers movie are still there too, delivering a wonderfully immersive and entertaining experience all-round.
The story and screenplay by Christina Hodson has buckets of charm and relatability, and director Travis Knight’s obvious ability to tell a visual story makes for a really rewarding watch.
Here are ten reasons why you shouldn’t miss seeing Bumblebee in theatres.
1. G1 design Transformers
Fans have been clamouring for proper G1 (Generation 1) live action Transformers ever since Michael Bay worked on the first Transformers film back in 2007. Adding flames onto Optimus Prime made Transformers fans the world over gasp in disbelief and it didn’t get any better as the endless sequels were churned out with even more poorly thought-out design work. Then along comes Bumblebee…
This movie grabs you from the first second and that’s because it uses designs heavily inspired by the G1 Transformers. Optimus Prime finally looks like Optimus Prime should, and Soundwave looks and sounds truly incredible. All of the Decepticons and Autobots in this film behave and sound as you’d hope, and that immediately puts the viewer on the right track to enjoy Bumblebee. Bumblebee himself is voiced by Dylan O’Brien (from The Maze Runner series) and even he evokes strong comparisons to the cartoon Bumblebee with his tone and dialogue.
2. Director Travis Knight
In Travis Knight, Bumblebee has found a truly visual storyteller to take this property onto exciting new heights. Having worked on his first directorial effort recently – the stunning Kubo and the Two Strings – along with being the lead animator on ParaNorman, Coraline and The Boxtrolls, Laika legend Travis Knight knows how to present a story to an audience in a beautifully rendered and fully realised way. Knight is without doubt the MVP of this new Transformers world.
3. Writer Christina Hodson
Having only two major credits to her name prior to writing Bumblebee, Christina Hodson is a relative new kid on the block with only Shut In and Unforgettable on her CV. She has done a truly remarkable job with Bumblebee that has raised her stock levels considerably. She has given the franchise a much needed reboot and delivered a female lead that is a well-rounded character that actually plays an important role in the events that occur during the film. She also gives Bumblebee a real presence and makes him one of the best characters we’ve seen in the Transformers movie universe to date.
She’s also set to work on the upcoming DC superhero movies Batgirl and Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) in the near-future 9the follow-up to Suicide Squad). This could be just the kind of shot in the arm DC needs to reinvigorate their cinematic slate, which firmly sits in the shadow of its biggest rival Marvel Studios at the moment. We are very excited to see what Hodson has up her sleeve for these iconic DC properties, and also if she’ll be back for an inevitable Bumblebee sequel.
4. Characterisation is key
Christina Hodson’s script always stays true to its characters and that one of the biggest factors in measuring Bumblebee’s success. The last few Transformers films have concentrated too heavily on seizure-inducing action set-pieces at the expense of characters that you genuinely care about. This couldn’t be further from the truth with Bumblebee, as Hodson along with director Travis Knight have made sure that you are always emotionally invested in what you see onscreen.
5. Hailee Steinfeld
Hailee Steinfeld is one of the best actresses of her generation and she brings a great warmth and accessibility to the film. Playing Charlie Watson, Steinfeld gives Bumblebee a great leading character to pair up with the Autobot. It’s their scenes that work the best in the film as they have genuine heart and soul in them, and give Bumblebee an effective central friendship to base the plot on. Steinfeld can also do comedy and drama together – see her work in the underrated The Edge of Seventeen for another classic role. And not content with just starring in the film, Steinfeld even provides one of the standout songs on the soundtrack – ‘Back to Life’.
6. An amazing soundtrack
Set in 1987, the film is able to delve into a wondrous selection of classic 80s tracks. Director Travis Knight has filled Bumblebee with a fantastic selection of tunes that really evoke a classic genre-movie feel in a similar vein to those made by the late, great John Hughes. Any film that can base a Transformers film on the musical stylings of The Smiths is ok with me!
Here are two of my favourite tracks that feature in the movie – Duran Duran and Steve Winwood.
7. A great ensemble
Bumblebee has brought together some great names to bolster its ensemble and they all hand in great performances. It’s great to see Pamela Adlon on the big screen as she’s one of our favourites. WWE Superstar John Cena plays the ‘bad’ guy well and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. makes for a great would-be love interest for Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld). Throw in John Ortiz, Len Cariou, Stephen Schneider and the vocal talents of Dylan O’Brien, Justin Theroux and Angela Bassett and you have a wonderful collective cast.
8. Optimus Prime is cool again
It’s wonderful to see Peter Cullen return to voice Optimus Prime once again. In past Transformers movies, Prime has gotten a rough deal with every passing movie slowly chipping away at the cool factor of the character. Thankfully, Bumblebee reignites Optimus Prime and gives Cullen the material to really bring the role back from the death. Looking like the G1 classic version of Optimus Prime helps immeasurably too, and anticipation has now grown for what we can expect to see from Optimus in a sequel to Bumblebee. And no flames in sight – finally!
9. The nods to the 1986 animated classic Transformers: The Movie
There’s a few references placed in Bumblebee that honours the past, especially the 1986 animated film Transformers: The Movie. The live action films from Michael Bay also get their dues too. Bumblebee is its own beast and is essentially an origin story, but one that takes inspiration from the whole spectrum of Transformers, with nice nods and knowing winks to all aspects of the universe. But there’s one scene in particular which really puts a smile on my face.
10. The Future…
Bumblebee lays down some amazing groundwork for what a potential new cinematic universe can be. At the start of the film you’ll see a new company ident for AllSpark Pictures. With parent company Hasbro setting up their own offshoot brands (including AllSpark Animation), it looks like they are adopting the Marvel Studios approach to making and creating content under their banner. I’m sure Paramount will still feature along the way for distribution but Hasbro clearly have big plans for their properties, and Bumblebee is their marker of intent.
After watching Bumblebee, you’ll see that they have barely scratched the surface of the world of the robots in disguise. We still haven’t even seen Megatron or had a lengthy look at Optimus Prime yet either so there are plenty of trump cards still to play in this ever expanding universe. If they keep the creativity fresh like they have with Bumblebee, we could be in for a real treat!
Bumblebee is in cinemas from 24th December 2018, with advance previews in certain areas.