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Bumblebee Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by our good friends over at FatCats Gilbert on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline! FatCats Gilbert is the best place to see all of the latest box office hits like Aquaman, Bumblebee, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse! To see all showtimes and to purchase tickets, you can click right HERE!

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It’s a strange time of the year. It’s the week before Christmas, and we have two superhero movies, a Transformers movie, and Mary Poppins Returns all in theaters. I love that blockbusters are starting to hit year-round, but it feels like we should be talking about some Oscar nominees. Anyways, we have a blockbuster to talk about, so let’s do it. This franchise finally signed on a new director, which is what Transformers fans have been asking for. Michael Bay seems to have run his course, and I’m glad Paramount could bring Travis Knight in to direct, who was the brain behind Kubo and the Two Strings. I’m also a huge fan of Hailee Steinfeld. Of course, she was nominated for an Oscar for her role in True Grit, but Begin Again and The Edge of Seventeen are two of my favorite movies of this decade. She didn’t win an Oscar for True Grit, but I wouldn’t be shocked if she ended up with an Academy Award sometime in the near future. Throw John Cena into the mix and the talent in this movie is through the roof. Did it pay off?

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Bumblebee is directed by Travis Knight and stars Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie Watson, an eighteen-year-old girl doing everything she can to navigate the struggles of losing her father, giving up what she thought was her passion, and finding the perfect car. When she comes across an old VW beetle in her uncle’s junkyard, she gets more than she bargained for and ends up with Bumblebee, an alien warrior who has forgotten who he is. As their friendship blooms, Decepticons make their way to Earth to question Bumblebee about the rebellion of the Autobots, forcing Bee back into action to protect both our world and his world of Cybertron.

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Just as a disclaimer, I don’t care for any of the live action Transformers movies so far, save for the first one which I like a little bit. That being said, this is absolutely the best Transformers movie we’ve seen in this Michael Bay universe. Funnily enough, the best part about it is that Michael Bay didn’t play a role. He produced the movie, but getting him out of the director’s chair is the best thing Paramount could have possibly done. I’ll admit that Michael Bay is one of the best in the business at assembling a movie and using an ungodly budget, but his storytelling and creative decisions have become so stale. Also, he made the same movie five times and nobody caught on for ten years. That’s almost impressive. Bumblebee brought in Travis Knight, and I think he was the main difference. This movie doesn’t feel fresh in terms of late 1980s sci-fi stories, but it feels fresh for a Transformers movie, which is exactly what I was hoping for. It has a cheery tone, it has the innocence that Transformers fans have been asking for, and it establishes the best relationship between a human and a Transformer that we’ve seen in this franchise. Hailee Steinfeld’s Charlie isn’t some throwaway Transformers girl. She is actually given a massive role in humanizing Bumblebee and bringing his character to life. Hailee Steinfeld also gives a great performance. My intention with this review wasn’t to make anyone feel bad, but you don’t exactly get the same performance from Megan Fox, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Nicola Peltz as you do from an Oscar-nominated actress like Hailee Steinfeld.

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It also puts Bumblebee in a starring role. The first five movies may have been called “Transformers,” but for some reason they decided to focus on Shia LaBeouf and Mark Wahlberg. I think that both are great actors, but I want Transformers action with huge stakes for the Autobots. This movie gives that to us. Bumblebee actually has an arc, and his action sequences are great. They aren’t solely based around explosions, I can tell exactly what’s happening, the Transformers don’t have terrible dialogue in between punches, and it’s extremely clear who I was pulling for. Bumblebee is by far the most fun and emotionally resonant film in the franchise, and I think it’s further proof that you don’t need to have a dark tone to establish characters. It even includes great comedy, a lot of which comes from Bumblebee and Charlie learning about each other. Bumblebee definitely learns more about Earth than Charlie learns about Cybertron, and seeing his reactions to life, pop culture, people, and interior design had me laughing pretty hard.

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My biggest issue was probably the military aspect of the film. Every single Transformers movie has a military subplot. I’ve never liked any of them because they feel forced and give unnecessary screen-time to humans I couldn’t care less about, but this one just feels jammed into the story. I didn’t hate John Cena’s character, and I didn’t hate the way the military interacted with the Transformers, but most of the sequences were probably only in the film because someone in the creative room said that the story HAD to have the military. I also have to go back to the story, which doesn’t feel very new as a sci-fi film. It’s new as a Transformers movie, but as a sci-fi movie, you’ve seen everything this movie has to offer. That doesn’t mean this movie isn’t worth seeing, because it absolutely is, but it’s probably not going to satisfy any sort of craving for originality you had. Honestly, that turns out to be just fine. Everything that it sets out to correct from previous Transformers movies it corrects, and I’m mostly thankful that it isn’t the same Transformers story from the previous five.

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Overall, Bumblebee is a ton of fun with a lot of heart, and it gives fans exactly what they’ve been asking for. It eliminates countless disposable humans and replaces them with one, borderline two, that I genuinely cared about to carry the movie. Hailee Steinfeld gives an excellent performance, and her character’s social and familial situation brought me closer to her and gave the movie a more innocent, raw, child-like tone, which is perfect for this property. I loved the relationship between Charlie and Bumblebee, and their interactions are hilarious. The military does feel unnecessary, but it’s actually a nice change of pace from the unbearable, cringe-inducing military in the previous five movies. Bumblebee won’t give you much in terms of originality, but it will give you heart and a whole lot of fun. I’m going to give Bumblebee a 7.7/10.

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Will you be seeing Bumblebee? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]