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Film Review: Bumblebee

Transform and roll out! Has one little Bumblebee saved the Transformers franchise?

The Transformers franchise has had varied success at the box office, with a blockbuster series spanning 5 films starting with Transformers in 2007, all the way up to Transformers 5: The Last Knight in 2017. Receiving less than stellar reviews, many fans believed that the Transformers film franchise was over. However, that all changed with the announcement of Bumblebee. Directed by Travis Knight as opposed to previous director Michael Bay, Bumblebee is a prequel set in 1987, focusing on Autobot leader Optimus Prime’s right-hand man Bumblebee and his human friend Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld).

Released in the crowded month of December against the likes of Aquaman, Mary Poppins Returns and Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, is Bumblebee good enough to transform and roll over the competition?

Bumblebee starts with a battle of epic proportions on the planet Cybertron, the homeworld of the Autobots and Decepticons, sworn enemies at war. Straight from the get-go Bumblebee provides what many Transformers fans have hoped and dreamed for years; classic characters such as Arcee, Ratchet, Wheeljack, Starscream, Shockwave and Soundwave all making an appearance.

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Classic G1 characters make a surprise appearance: Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

However, whether you are a die-hard Transformers fan or not, this opening scene is enough to send shivers down the spine of any viewer and provides some much-needed context to the Auto-bot story that is lacking in Michael Bay’s adaptations.

The story follows Bumblebee as he crash-lands to earth from Cybertron to be discovered and took in by Charlie, a feisty 18-year-old girl crippled by the recent loss of her father. Charlie’s joy to discover that her Volkswagen Beetle is, in fact, a Transformer is quickly taken away as evil Decepticons Shatter and Dropkick come to attack Bumblebee and destroy the world.

The growing relationship between Autobot and his human counterpart is a joy to see and a refreshing change from Shia La Beouf’s performance as Sam in Transformers (2007). The film provides many laugh out loud and heart-wrenching moments as Charlie teaches Bumblebee how to behave on earth, whilst Bumblebee helps Charlie deal with the loss of her father. It’s a stark change from the previous films, which were jam-packed with action sequences of grandiosity, and the change is a warm welcome as we grow to love Charlie and Bumblebee.

The film seamlessly provides an experience that both general moviegoers and Transformers fans alike can enjoy, with a good mix of 1980s Transformers fanfare and great cinematography that makes for a fantastic viewing experience for all.

The problem that a film like Bumblebee is faced with is the negative stigma that the previous films in the franchise have given the Transformers brand amongst general audiences, who have been increasingly disappointed with the series in recent years. Not only this but with Transformers often being seen as a ‘kids brand’ in the same way as My Little Pony or SpongeBob SquarePants, this often holds back the franchise and allows fantastic films like Bumblebee to slip away.

But not all is doom and gloom. This is a fantastic film for anyone to see, I hope that Bumblebee continues to amaze audiences and becomes a smash hit at the box office, perhaps inspiring a sequel or prequel of similar style, despite an underwhelming box-office performance. This is one of the best films of the year and a great family film that will stand for years to come.

By Ella Farnsworth

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