Knight’s Bumblebee had expectations to live up to, and it certainly plays that tune, whilst adding in its own bits and riffs
In one relatively small spin-off, Travis Knight, directing his first ever live action feature film, has managed to fit in more expression than Michael Bay has in the previous five installments put together. Before now, the Transformers franchise was a quality-barren plain, and no number of sequels was ever going to change that.
Yet, this should be a focus on the positives Knight has brought to the franchise, not the farce that it was previously; and, by keeping those positives in mind, it’s easy to count numerous that make Bumblebee an enjoyable watch. Granted it’s still a Transformers film, and that means a lot of CGI thrashing about, but there’s also good will and friendship to be found in a fairly spiriting story.
Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) is a young girl desperate for her own car. Troubled by the death of her father, she is unable to fix the Corvette the pair were doing up together. However, when she discovers a yellow Volkswagen Beetle in the scrap yard she collects car parts from, she is desperate to have it for her own. But little does she know, the car is an alien robot, hiding from those threatening his home planet.
Backed by a wonderful 80’s soundtrack, Knight has portrayed Christina Hodson’s script as as one of real care and friendship. There’s a huge opportunity to feel empathy and sympathy towards Bumblebee. He might still be a CGI hunk of metal, but he’s more connectable than ever before and that comes from the beating heart Bumblebee has, progresses the story with both intent and purpose.
Often it falls into the classic American teen movie trap, using ideas and characters that aren’t in the least bit original, but realistically that is okay. This is a blockbuster and it isn’t there to reinvent cinema. Knight’s Bumblebee had expectations to live up to, and it certainly plays that tune, whilst adding in its own bits and riffs.
Bumblebee is a strong spin off with a wonderfully caring lead in Hailee Steinfeld pushing for depth, and a story to jump from with all future prequels/spin-offs in mind. Though, maybe keep your fingers crossed that Michael Bay doesn’t return to the directors chair.
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