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Movie Review: “Bumblebee”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 12/21/2018

Theatrical Release: 12/21/2018

Synopsis

Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) used to work on an old car in the garage with her dad. After her father died, she has remained committed to finishing the car that they used to work on together. She desperately wants a car of her own, and she wants that car to be the one her and her father started together, but no matter what she does, the car does not want to start. Thus, she goes to the junkyard looking for parts, and stumbles upon an old, rundown, yellow beetle. She gets this car to run, and she takes it home to fix it up, but that is when her life changes forever.

The old, rundown, yellow beetle transforms into a giant robot! The robot is a transformer that Charlie names Bumblebee, due to his color. Bumblebee has no memory of his life before Charlie started him up, but she hopes to repair him. However, while she means Bumblebee no harm, the United States military is looking for him, and he is not the only transformer who has made their way to Earth. Two Decepticons track down Bumblebee and plan to send a message back to Megatron. The message would inform Megatron of the Autobots’ plan to setup a base on Earth, and if Bumblebee is unable to regain his memory and stop the Decepticons, it could bring their war to Earth. This would bring destruction to Earth, and could also mean the end of the Autobots, so Charlie and Bumblebee will need to find a way to stop that from happening.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Charlie & Bumblebee (+8pts)

The Decepticons (-2pts)

John Cena & The Action (+4pts)

Diving & Charlie’s Father (-4pts)

Memo (+3pts)

Predictable (-4pts)

movie-review-bumblebee

Pro: Charlie & Bumblebee (+8pts)

I liked the relationship between these two characters. Bumblebee lost his memory, but took a liking to Charlie. Charlie could fix him up, keep him out of trouble, and ended up becoming a friend. She also had her own issues to get through. Charlie had still not recovered from her father’s death, and Bumblebee quickly became just what she needed to find her place in the world again.

Both characters benefited from being around the other. They both cared about each other and they were each willing to risk everything to save the other. We have seen similar relationships to this one, and we have seen Bumblebee be the one to have similar relationships to this one, but out of all of the Transformer movies, it was this human-Transformer pairing that I thought worked the best. I bought this friendship fully, and it was super easy to get invested in their story together.

movie-review-bumblebee

Con: The Decepticons (-2pts)

I thought having the Decepticons in this movie felt inconsistent with previous movies in the franchise. In 2007, we got Transformers which saw the massive robots making contact on Earth for the first time. Yes, Bumblebee had already been on Earth at the beginning of that story, but humans were not familiar with Transformers at that point, so it was a little odd to see an Autobot fighting a bunch of Decepticons in this movie—in plain sight of plenty of humans—while knowing full well that humans did not know about Transformers in the first movie, and that this movie took place before the first movie. I could forgive all of that if the Decepticons actually did something noteworthy in this movie, but they did not.

We saw them do “crazy” things like negotiate with the United States military. We also saw them spend a ton of time setting up and searching the internet. It was truly riveting stuff—sarcasm severely intended. The Decepticons ended up being underdevelopen antagonists, and I could not help but think the filmmakers could have just as easily made this movie without them. Why not just make a story about Bumblebee trying to stay off the radar of the United States government? I am not saying that the filmmakers should have done exactly that, but there were certainly plenty of ways to make this movie without the Decepticons. I just did not get the point of putting Decepticons in this movie—and risk messing up the timeline—if they were not going to do anything that would peak the audience’s interest.

movie-review-bumblebee

Pro: John Cena & The Action (+4pts)

The action in this movie was decent. There was nothing that really stood out about it, but it was the solid action that you would expect from a Transformers movie. This alone, made it worth mentioning, but it did not blow me away. In addition to the decent action, this movie saw John Cena jointing the Transformers franchise.

His character had a run in with Bumblebee in the beginning of the story, which sent him on a mission to catch the Autobot before anyone got hurt. He was kind of an antagonist, because he was hunting the titular protagonist, but you will understand this guy’s side of the story. He was a man who encountered a massive, powerful alien that hurt good men—even if he did so inadvertently. This made Bumblebee a danger to society, and he got away. So while he was hunting the protagonist, you will completely understand where this guy was coming from, and I had a hard time rooting against him for that very reason. It was an interesting character, and I thought John Cena was entertaining in the role.

movie-review-bumblebee

Con: Diving & Charlie’s Father (-4pts)

I understand why it was important to show this character with some issues. Part of what I liked about the movie was that both Charlie and Bumblebee were better off for having known each other. However, this story set up two issues that Charlie was struggling with. One made complete sense. The other, not so much.

The death of Charlie’s father was effective because everyone has a parent or parental figure, so anyone in the anyone could understand why Charlie was so devastated. It was also effective because it gave Charlie a connection to cars that the audience will get behind. The issue that did not make any sense to me was the diving. Charlie used to be a diver, but associated that part of her life with her father as well. Due to this, she did not like diving. It felt like a pointless character point, got way too much focus, and it had a pretty meaningless payoff. It just ended up wasting screen time that could have been spent on better parts of the story.

movie-review-bumblebee

Pro: Memo (+3pts)

When I first saw this character, I was ready for him to be a very typical comedic relief. Then I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up liking this character as much as I did. Memo had a crush on Charlie, but she never really noticed him. This made the character super relatable, as most of us—at some point in our lives—have experienced something like what he was going through. He then saw Charlie’s whole situation as a way to connect with her, and he ended up going along with her on her crazy adventure. Memo was a silly, yet relatable character that I ended up enjoying quite a bit.

movie-review-bumblebee

Con: Predictable (-4pts)

Another issue that was somewhat related to this being a prequel, was how predictable the movie ended up being. To start, Bumblebee was in the other Transformers movies, so we knew he would not die in this one. Despite that fact, the filmmakers pretended that we did not know this, but we did, so we would never really be concerned about Bumblebee’s survival. On top of that, the whole threat of the movie was that if the Decepticons succeeded, the Autobots would lose the war and Earth would quickly become a war zone. Based on how the first movie started, we knew that the Decepticons obviously would not succeed in this movie. Did I know how every moment would play out? No, but I knew Bumblebee would survive, and I knew the Decepticons would fail, so the stakes never felt very high.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

movie-review-bumblebee

Grade: B- (80pts)

This was a decent movie that was definitely hurt by being a prequel to an established franchise like Transformers. With the main character being a focal point in movies that occurred later—chronologically—I had no concern over Bumblebee’s fate in this movie. That being said, the filmmakers leaned in to some attempted dramatic moments that pretended we do not know that Bumblebee would survive, which made these moments fall kind of flat. Additionally, based on the Decepticons’ mission and the potential outcome of that mission, we also knew that Bumblebee would succeed. This just made it feel like the Decepticons were thrown in here for the sake of having them in here, and that the filmmakers did not really know what to do with them.

What did Bumblebee have going for it? It had all the action that you would expect from a Transformers movie, and it had an interesting antagonist, played by John Cena. The movie also had a very effevtive pairing with Charlie and Bumblebee. I was not able to get behind the diving aspect of Charlie‘s story, but everything else worked, and her friendship with Bumblebee was both entertaining and super easy to connect with. The result was a movie that was very far from perfect, but it kept me entertained from start to finish.