Transformers is a movie series that often procures a lot of ire. Never before has a bunch of films been so lambasted by film critics, industry folk, and audiences alike (this is a wild and outrageous generalisation but it works). Yet they still attract box office numbers, leading to six movies coming out.
Yet the sixth installment, set in the eighties and revolving around one particular Transformer, has set a precedent by being a well-championed and well-received film. But is it worth all the chatter?
Bumblebee revolves around the titular youngest and most rambunctious Member of the Autobots. After escaping from his home world, which is under siege from the Decepticons, Bumblebee is found, beaten, and left for dead. Disguising himself as a Volkswagen Beatle, and without a voice, it is years before the yellow-clad Autobot is found again. Flash forward a couple of years, and outcast Charlie, suffering from the loss of her father, discovers the car and decides to work on the project. However, what she finds herself in the middle of an intergalactic war. Having to teach Bumblebee how to be himself again, it’s up to the unlikely friends to save the world.
Directed by Laika legend Travis Knight, Bumblebee has – ha ha – transformed the overblown franchise from an explosion-filled quip fest into an earnest Herbie-like adventure. The film’s focus on a sweet refreshes the franchise somewhat. There are moments of cute, family friendly comedy cut that appeal to your heart whilst also making you chuckle. The film has some incredible action sequences and great robot fights.
Hailee Steinfeld is an accomplished actress. We’ve all known this since she exploded onto the big-screen with her Academy Award nominated performance in True Grit. Since she has excelled in fantastic movies including Begin Again, and the phenomenal The Edge of Seventeen. Her talent to reach into the depths of a character and pull out an emotional arc is impressive for this young actress. She smiles with unbridled joy and yet can map out the grief of a daughter lost without her father. It’s a fantastic performance for Steinfeld.
There’s also John Cena as our muscular-bond disgruntled soldier.
The biggest problem with Bumblebee is that it’s just average. Which is great for a Transformers film, but feels as though the story, the style – even the era – follows the same path as eighties inspired products that have come before it. It’s become boring and tiresome to see the same songs trotted out with the obligatory reference to The Breakfast Club written in there. On top of this, the adventure seems too familiar and isn’t embellished enough to pull it into pure greatness.
Yes, it has capable components that work together to create a brilliant film and I’m not going to detract too much because for a family garb, it is genuinely impressive. But if you aren’t a huge fan of the Transformers series, this isn’t going to assuage you.
Bumblebee previews this weekend.
It is out on the 21st