Bumblebee (2018) – Film Review

Serving as both a prequel to Michael Bay’s ‘Transformers’ franchise as well as a kind of soft-reboot for the film series as a whole, ‘Bumblebee’ is a fresh take on the sci-fi/action film series. But going off the back of it’s amazing reviews and director Travis Scott’s other film: ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ on my initial watch, I was expecting a little more.

On the run from his alien home-world: ‘Cybertron’ in the year of 1987, ‘Bumblebee’ manages to find refuge through a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Where  ‘Charlie’, on the edge of turning eighteen and trying to find her place in the world, discovers him, battle-scarred and broken.

While definitely an improvement over Michael Bay’s various attempts at the shape-shifting machines, the film isn’t anything outstanding. Mostly been a very comedic sci-fi action adventure with a few emotional moments thrown in. This version almost seems to be leaning more towards the iconic cartoon series from 1984 to 1987, as many of the ‘Transformer’s designs are ripped straight from the TV show with even a few small cameos from beloved characters.

The action in the film is fun for the most part, not simply being another constant barrage of explosions and actually trying to utilize the various ‘Transformers’ abilities in different ways. However, it still doesn’t quite reach the level of fun the original cartoon series had, always feeling a little toned down. One compliment I can give the film however though, is the comedy. Again whilst not landing every joke, the film does have it’s fair share of funny moments. Which did give me a little chuckle at times, and not simply just a sigh or a cringe as many of Michael Bay’s poor attempts at humour did.

Hailee Steinfeld and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. both portray young characters who attempt to help ‘Bumblebee’ finish his mission throughout the film, and while their characters only really get a basic amount of development. They are likable and serve their purpose within the story. A member of the cast I wasn’t aware of at first however, was the infamous John Cena. Who actually portrays one of the main villains of the film, aside from the ‘Decepticons’ themselves. Who I just couldn’t take seriously, not only because of his ‘meme’ status, but also due to his simply ‘meh’ acting throughout.

Due to the great lightning and colour grading, this easily the most visual impressive entry in the blockbuster franchise. Ditching the Michael Bay dirty blue and orange colour palette in exchange for more of a summer-like feel. These colourful visuals also help make up for the cinematography by Enrique Chediak, as although it’s not bad by any means, the cinematography is mostly generic for an action flick like this.

The original score by Dario Marianelli is your generic score for an action flick, with some heroic tones alongside it. The soundtrack isn’t really anything memorable, and despite also not being anything amazing, I think I still prefer the original score for the 2007 ‘Transformers’ film by Steve Jablonsky. Which has since gone down as the main theme for the ‘Transformers’.

It’s definitely a pleasant surprise to have a entry in the ‘Transformers’ franchise that isn’t simply just explosions and loud noises from start-to-finish, with a great visual appeal and plenty of humour throughout, I could see most having a lot of fun with this film, especially families. However, it might be that I simply don’t have a huge love for these characters, but I although I found it enjoyable whilst watching, it wasn’t super memorable for me personally. A decent 6/10 overall.

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