Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Cena
Director: Travis Knight
Running Time: 114 mins
Bumblebee is an American film about the story of B-127, an Autobot sent to Earth by Optimus Prime to seek out shelter in the midst of a galactic rebellion, where he finds friendship with a teenage girl struggling to find her place in the world.
With a innocent and sweet atmosphere throughout, combined with a light-hearted and easy-going story, Bumblebee proves a surprisingly pleasant watch, with another stand-out performance from Hailee Steinfeld, and an often heartwarming central relationship that you really wouldn’t expect to see from a Transformers movie, even if the movie’s more generic sci-fi story does unfortunately take precedence towards the finale here, which leaves things on a rather disappointing final note.
First things first, however: I’ve never seen a Transformers movie. I’m aware of their terrible reputation, but I’ve never got round to watching one as of yet, so I’m glad that the often delightful Bumblebee was my introduction to the franchise, and I’m also happy to report that this is a film that doesn’t require any prior or wider knowledge of Transformers, making it a great watch for absolutely anyone.
As a prequel, there are obvious tie-ins to the wider series, and I’m sure bigger fans of Transformers will get a bigger kick out of all those references, however unlike a prequel like Rogue One, which would virtually incomprehensible if you’d never seen Star Wars, Bumblebee does a great job at going it alone and making its own coherent and thoroughly enjoyable story.
Above all, the best thing about this movie has to be the central friendship between Bumblebee and Hailee Steinfeld’s character, which proves funny and heartwarming from beginning to end, and the absolute polar opposite from what I’ve heard the main Transformers series is infamous for.
Hailee Steinfeld gives yet another hugely likable performance, channeling the same energy as her stunning turn in The Edge Of Seventeen, but with a little more upbeat, family-friendly vibe that fits the film’s fun-loving tendencies. As a result, you really grow to like her character, and the strength of the connection that she forms with Bumblebee is easily the film’s most striking and enjoyable element, combining a heartwarming friendship with a warm and delightful story that entertains far more than any sci-fi mumbo-jumbo could ever do.
The first two acts in particular are the movie’s strongest suits, and with likable characters, measured and pleasant visual effects, and good humour throughout, Bumblebee gets off to a really nice start, and even though it might be a little simple, its heart is what makes it so infectiously delightful.
Unfortunately, the movie really falls off a cliff when it tries to inject some blockbuster thrills into the mix. Having worked well as a calm and often tender story about friendship for the first half, the introduction of intergalactic warfare and loud, big-budget action sequences proves a real disappointment.
The movie’s rather basic screenplay is a frustration throughout, but that heartfelt vibe from the start means it isn’t much of a problem for the first half, however when the story reverts to something a lot more generic, the overly simplistic and somewhat dated nature of the plot becomes more apparent, and makes the remainder of the movie really rather boring, even though there’s still a hangover of the likability from the first half.
Overall, I quite liked Bumblebee. It’s a pleasant and often heartfelt movie that proves a delightful introduction to Transformers for me, and although its plot ultimately proves to be disappointingly generic, making for a rather dull watch at times, there are some lovely moments throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.9.