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Bumblebee Reignites Transformers Franchise

If there’s one franchise that’s proven that larger and louder doesn’t necessarily equal better, it would have to be the Transformers series of films. What started out as a story of a boy coming to age and his car had dovetailed into medieval levels of ludicrousness involving a dark Optimus Prime by the time Transformers: The Last Knight sputtered into theatres on June 20, 2017.  The Rotten Tomatoes score for The Last Knight currently sits at 16%.

Here’s what Peter Travers of Rolling Stone had to say about that film upon its release:

“Every time Michael Bay directs another Transformers abomination (this is the fifth), the movies die a little. This one makes the summer’s other blockbuster misfires look like masterpieces.”

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Alas, it looks like director Travis Knight has injected the franchise with the right mix of nostalgic science fiction fun the series was missing. The film is sitting pretty on Rotten Tomatoes with a score in the 96% rating (as of this writing, though that will change very quickly as more reviews pour in).  Check out what critics are saying about it.

Los Angeles Times

Bumblebee, for its part, has just enough wit, playfulness and charm to develop a voice of its own, which is no small thing in the context of a flashy, lunkheaded studio franchise (albeit one whose commercial supremacy is no longer a certainty). The relatively intimate scale of this picture offers a welcome reassertion of the less-is-more principle. It’s startling to see the delicacy of the rapport between the two leads — a delicacy thrown into relief by a tense, humorous sequence in which Bumblebee accidentally lays waste to an entire house — and realize just how little the five earlier “Transformers” movies invested in the human element, how rarely they captured the simple wonderment of cross-species bonding.


Imagine, if you can, a Transformers movie in which the plot is coherent, the robots feel like characters (as opposed to gleaming CG creations), and the action is staged and edited clearly enough to follow. After five rock ’em, sock ’em blockbuster features, it has become clear that audiences would never get such a film as long as Michael Bay occupied the director’s chair, and though he should certainly be credited for proving that a Hasbro toy line could support a massive global franchise, “Bumblebee” is basically the movie that fans of the 1980s animated series wanted all along.


Bumblebee plays like a loving throwback, with genuine and funny performances, and direction that finally makes the Transformers characters feel real. The overwhelming and distracting detail from the previous films has been stripped away, leaving Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, and the villains Shatter (Angela Bassett) and Dropkick (Justin Theroux) with an aesthetically pleasing design that highlights the performance of the characters.


By taking the Transformers universe in a new, more intimate character-driven direction, screenwriter Christina Hodson (who has the Suicide Squad Harley Quinn sequel Birds of Prey up next) plays directly to the franchise’s roots. Skillfully shaping what’s essentially a coming-of-age story for both Charlie and Bumblebee, Hodson layers in a sense of wonder and discovery that effectively recaptures the innovation and energy of the 2007 original. It’s an effective reimagining that also bears a knowing resemblance to classic youth-oriented films from Bumblebee executive producer Steven Spielberg.

It certainly sounds like fans and the general audience going public are in for a treat come December 21, 2018.

Here’s the official synopsis:

“On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee the Autobot seeks refuge in a junkyard in a small California beach town. Charlie, on the brink of turning 18 years old and trying to find her place in the world, soon discovers the battle-scarred and broken Bumblebee. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns that this is no ordinary yellow Volkswagen.”

I’m looking forward to it. Are you? Please leave your comments below.

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SOURCES: Various (linked above)

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