Bumblebee (2018 Film) is the Transformer movie we 80s fanboys have long craved for. Humanistic, funny, adorable. And without a fetish for crumbling cities. (Or sunlit …)
Bumblebee (2018 Film) Synopsis
Years before the events of Transformers (2007), Optimum Prime dispatches young B-127 to Earth to secure a hiding place for the fleeing Autobots. Unfortunately, B-127 is ambushed on Earth by a Decepticon and severely damaged, forcing him to go into stasis as well as losing his memory. Later, B-127 is discovered and revived by teenager Charlie Watson, who then befriends the Autobot and renames him as Bumblebee. When Charlie tries to restore Bumblebee’s damaged speech function, she accidentally activates a homing signal. The result of which immediately brings two murderous Decepticons to Earth.
We had five live-action Transformers movies before Bumblebee. While all were commercially profitable, all also earned seas of haters. To the extent, the franchise name became synonymous with mindless CGI, wanton destruction, and sexist storytelling.
If you were to pinpoint one reason for this widespread hatred, what would you put it as?
Bland characters? Mindless plot? Messy fights? A misogynistic obsession with sunlit feminine curves?
A burning, feverish desire to flaunt one’s production budget, in place of telling a story?
For me, I think it’s a bit of everything. Above all else, I believe it’s also the fact that throughout the previous movies, there just wasn’t one character you would want to be a buddy with.
Yeah, ridiculous as that might sounds, the presence of such a character makes all the difference in what is otherwise, a juvenile fantasy. (Come on, it’s based on a toy series) It’s also what makes the difference between a fight and the fight, because the one battling away is a robot you are inclined to root for.
Root for, in the sense, he’s more than just a name or a colour or a caricature. You know what he does outside of combat. What music he likes. How he reacts when alone with dogs, or technology so primitive, it’s terrifying to him.
You can even imagine how he would be living his life if not trapped in a never-ending interplanetary conflict. Where and how he would chill. And with whom. Etc.
I think Bumblebee 2018, with its “character-driven” plot that is so strongly reminiscent of 80s classics like E.T. and Batteries Not Included, is the first Transformers live-action movie that has a true touch of the above storytelling essence. In a way, this makes it the only Transformers live-action production that does cinematic justice to the legendary toy series.
My opinion is admittedly influenced by the fact that this is “the movie that fans of the 1980s animated series wanted all along,” as Peter Debruge put it. But hey, after a decade of CGI glutfests, isn’t it time for something different? For me, this reversion to 80s formula, the very decade the toy series is from, is a wonderful start.
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