Bumblebee 2018 ★★★
Watched Aug 11, 2019
RedShoelace’s review published on Letterboxd:
When you hear Transformer franchise, the first thought that comes to your mind is probably not a good one. Over the years and several movies later; Michael Bay, explosions, galactic warfare, and a revolving door of actors have all but sealed the fate of the franchise. Which is why Bumblebee, you know the cool Autobot who never had a voice and instead used the lyrics to songs on the radio, the little guy of the bunch, is finally centre stage. Michael Bay is no more, replaced by a director with an impressive creative resume - Travis Knight (Kube & The Two Strings). The result is a delightful little mini blockbuster with some heart, great casting, nostalgic 80's music & pop culture references, and of course a teeny tiny bit of shootouts and Rock Em Sock Em combat.
It doesn't take long for me to think of how great the casting of the film is. Pamela Adlon (Better Things) as Charlie's mother was a great addition as the non archetype motherly role, she rocks. Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie; the main character who discovers Bumblebee. She's been excellent dating back to when she burst on the scene in True Grit and more recently in the underwatched coming of age drama Edge of Seventeen. Hell, she even made me give the musical films Pitch Perfect a try which have become some guilty pleasures of mine (psst don't tell anyone.) Unfortunately, John Cena is here as the balls to the wall rediculous army guy who is hell bent on killing anything that moves, that as you can guess.... has a change of heart at the end. For the Psych fans out there, Cena had an excellent story arc as military brat brother with a wholesome vibe to him, so I can see the decision to cast him here. Unfortunately the stereotypical character on top of Cena's 'acting' is one major downside to this movie.
Going back to the 80's almost feels like cheating doesn't it? Stranger Things started a renaissance where it was cool to have your story take place in that forgotten time period. With a great soundtrack and a super satisfying Breakfast Club reference, Bumblebee delivers without going overboard with shoving your face into the 80's. The story has some heart, albeit a tad predictable. Charlie was a high diving star before her father, who both encouraged her diving and sparked her passion into automobiles and fixing them, tragically passed away. She distances herself between her mother and and brother and rather would spend time at the junk yard bartering for parts to fix her and her father's car that they've been working on. You can guess where her character arc goes and how a large body of water involving a heroic jump comes into play. You know what though - it doesn't matter. Bumblebee was fun and made me remember that once upon a time Transformers was headed in the right direction. YES, that movie with Shia LaBeouf was actually good, before you know, all the super big drawn out battles with mayhem and destruction took over the franchise. Give this a watch, I promise it's not bad.