Don’t let the reviews fool you, Bumblebee is no better than any other blockbuster junk food; it’s mindless entertainment given an edge because of its heart.
Decepticons are looking to wipe out the Autobot resistance lead by Optimus Prime once and for all. Bumblebee, a younger member of the resistance, escapes to Earth where he is tasked with establishing a home base for the other resistance members. On Earth, Bumblebee befriends a teenage girl named Charlee (Hailee Steinfeld) who has her own life issues to deal with. With a pair of Decepticon leaders hot on his trail, Bumblebee must protect his new friend and Earth at all costs.
To be fair, I’m not a huge Transformers guy, and the Michael Bay films don’t offend me the way they do others. I go into a film like Bumblebee and expect some big fight scenes, some explosions, and a good time. And in the first few minutes of the film, that is exactly what I got. Bumblebee opens up on Cybertron, the Autobot planet, with a raging battle where Transformers are slinging around Decepticon thugs like paper and streams of gunfire are flying about; the likes of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee kicking ass are in full display. Even when Bumblebee crash lands on Earth, there is another thrilling fight between him and a Decepticon while he is being chased by the American military. Up to the opening titles, the film had caught my attention and had me excited. Then, Bumblebee becomes less Transformers movie and more like a dog movie. Charlee, who takes over the lead role, still hasn’t moved on from the death of her dad while the rest of her family has seemingly adjusted; she struggles to make many friends. Then Bumblebee, this innocent creature who cannot speak, stumbles in her garage and the two become close friends over what feels like a long middle act where nothing exciting happens. Sure, there are some heartfelt moments which occur as their relationship develops but for the most part, the whole thing feels trite and tedious. By the end, the film dissolves into a predictable victory for the good guys, where the girl gets the guy and Bee returns to his friends.
To say Bumblebee is any better than a movie like Pacific Rim: Uprising or Rampage, or any more fun than a movie like Venom, wouldn’t make much sense to me. It has the same exaggerated characters with the general who wants to destroy everything he doesn’t understand in John Cena, and the weird scientist who is blinded by their own fascination. The movie has fine visuals, the occasional cute or humorous moment, and is plenty family-friendly.
Being glad Bumblebee is better than the latest convoluted, over-long Transformers films is one thing, but to praise it for being better? The bar was so low already.