I’ve always loved Transformers as a kid. The 80’s TV animation series is a favourite of mine and is a very big part of my childhood. So, when the original Transformers live action film series happened, I was extremely offended and disappointed with what Michael Bay did to these characters I had grown to love. You can imagine my utter delight when I found out that Bumblebee would not be directed by him. I know that he is tied to the film as one of the producers, but I am fine with that.
Directed by Travis Knight, this new film follows Bumblebee who is a refugee of his planet with no recollection of his past life. Unable to speak, he befriends an 18-year-old Charlie played by Hailee Steinfeld who is also learning about life, loss and trying to find her own place in the world. Although from two different worlds, these characters have a lot in common and form an unlikely friendship.
As Bumblebee is set in the 80’s, the fashion and music from this era are provided to help build the setting and mood. I have always been a fan of 80’s music, so honestly my ears were so happy from the very first opening scene. The fashion not so much, but the costuming and hair in this film are pretty impressive.
Despite the film being titled ‘Bumblebee’, the main character of this film is actually a teenage girl named Charlie. Charlie feels left out by her family, resenting her mother for remarrying as she is still traumatised and mourning the loss of her father. Her spirits are raised when she manages to obtain a free car, but the free car becomes more than what she signed up for.
Despite Bumblebee being mostly animated and a wordless robot, he displays so much emotion. The animation department really deserve awards for the way they managed to make a mute robotic alien so endearing, cute, frightened, loving and relatable. The chemistry between Steinfeld’s character Charlie and Bumblebee was extremely moving and convincing as well. It really impressed me, given the circumstances where many scenes would be Steinfeld acting to air or a green ball, I really believed that Bumblebee was there which is a testament to Hailee Steinfeld’s impressive acting chops. I also sincerely appreciated that despite Charlie being a female character, she was not thrown into a romantic notion and yet was still a strong, dynamic, independent young woman who followed her heart.
Charlie’s chemistry with her next-door neighbour, Memo played by Jorge Lendeborg Jr. was also dynamic and fun to watch. Their relationship felt very natural and not forced. It was great to see a realistic type of relationship where the characters don’t fall in love overnight. Although it is evident that Memo has a crush on Charlie the whole time, he is still courteous and a young gentleman who is also a great mate to hang with, or you know, have help you save the world.
I was so happy to hear the original voice of Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen in the very few scenes that Optimus Prime made an appearance in. John Cena is also in this film as a government agent, and although I do feel he was underutilised, I really didn’t care much about him because I knew the focus of the film was more on the relationship between Charlie and ‘Bee than anything else.
Bumblebee is a surprisingly impressive coming-of-age science-fiction tale about war, friendship, family, loss and love. I went into this film not knowing what to expect and was rewarded with a feeling of satisfaction and happiness. It is honestly not only the best film in its franchise but is now one of my new favourite sci-fis. Bumblebee is fun, cool, fierce, captivating, deep, heart-warming and moved me to tears. Yes, I freakin’ loved Bumblebee!