Sunday, 2 June 2019

Bumblebee ★★★★☆


Since 2007, there have been six Transformers movies. With a total of $4.3 billion, the series is the 13th highest grossing in cinema history. We have had 880 minutes of robots smashing the shit out of each other, and evidently, we’re not tired of it yet. But while the films have been on a downward spiral of quality ever since the first film back in ’07, the quality level has skyrocketed to an all-time high with this latest entry which might actually be one of the best action/adventure blockbusters in years. I loved it. And I hate Transformers.


Yes, Bumblebee was an absolute delight. Taking place in an affectionately portrayed 1987, the iconic yellow autoboot Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. What follows is a very familiar human-and-robot buddy film in a similar vein to The Iron Giant, Big Hero 6 and more. But while the plot doesn’t bring out anything particularly surprising – nothing at all, actually, it’s ridiculously predictable – it’s still a bloody enjoyable romp.

First up, let’s talk about the setting. We’re clearly still living in a Stranger Things world, with seemingly more and more media set in a nostalgia-heavy 1980s. While this feels like a gimmick for some films, here it feels like such a loving and heartfelt homage to an iconic period in history. The soundtrack alone gives the film a nostalgic feeling of adulation for a bygone era; and also gives us one of the film’s funniest scenes wherein Bumblebee shows his dislike of The Smiths. The film’s 80s setting gives the whole thing a throwback vibe, with the film’s plot, pacing, humour and characters feel like something out of a John Hughes classic – just, you know, with more robots beating the shit out of each other.

The film’s action is actually surprisingly strong – after years of Michael Bayhem in this franchise, Bumblebee feels like a much higher quality product. Yes, Michael Bay is still involved (sigh) but here his presence isn’t quite so uncomfortably felt. The action was actually easy to follow and enjoyable, not the usual frantic, poorly-edited explosion-a-thon. But the film truly shined in the more understated sequences. Our protagonist Charlie played wonderfully by the brilliant Hailee Steinfeld, is certainly the best human character the saga has seen. Complex, layered and above-all not overly sexualised, she is a breath of fresh air for a series with female involvement usually adding up to a scantily clad Megan Fox bending over a car hood. Steinfeld is brilliant in the role and has such remarkable chemistry with Bumblebee that you’ll be convinced he’s real. Sorry kids, he’s not.


Bumblebee was an absolutely brilliant film and one that vastly exceeded my expectations that were already pretty high due to the remarkable critical reception and word-of-mouth. This is a great throwback film, looking, feeling and sounding like an 80s romp and not getting itself bogged down with dark grittiness and overly complicated plot. This is just a fun, simply smash-‘em-up blockbuster, just like mama used to make ‘em. This is what the Transformers films could’ve been all along. The perfect formula has finally been discovered – let’s just hope the inevitable sequel doesn’t take a hot, steaming shit all over it. Bumblebee is the best Transformers film by far. 4/5

★★★★☆
Sam Love



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