The Transformers movie series has never been a good one, even if the first instalment can be fun as a guilty pleasure. Michael Bay has turned an iconic franchise into a stupid and frustrating experience, and many fans have given up after The Last Knight. However, Travis Knight, director of the amazing Kubo and the Two Strings, has decided to do a prequel spin-off with Bumblebee as the main protagonist. And yes, this is the best Transformers movie by far! That doesn’t say much, but it’s true. Just by saying that Michael Bay isn’t the director of Bumblebee, it’s already a huge compliment to the film.
Set in the 1980s, Optimus Prime has ordered Bumblebee to go to Earth in order to escape the destruction of their home planet Cybertron from the evil Decepticons. While finding refuge in a junkyard, a teenage girl named Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) eventually befriends the Autobot and decides to take care of her new pal in her garage. John Cena plays an agent of Sector 7 who wants to take down Bumblebee, and even two Decepticons are on the hunt for the Autobot. With a fun yet familiar premise, there’s actually some enjoyment in this instalment of a bloated and messy franchise.
It’s basically the same premise as The Iron Giant, but it still helps Transformers become fun without Michael Bay’s idiotic and incompetent direction. You can tell Travis Knight is actually a fan of this franchise, and he wants the audience to have an entertaining time. The film knows it’s not supposed to be taken seriously, but that doesn’t mean it should be a film filled with stupid humour and horribly filmed action sequences. Speaking of the action, you can actually see what’s happening without having a headache from painful shaky cams. Even the beginning tells you right away that this is the live-action Transformers you have been wanting your whole life. Unfortunately, the military conspiracy aspect is still here, but it’s obviously done better than the previous instalments. At least, it’s not convoluted.
Usually, the human characters are useless and irritating in the series, but Hailee Steinfeld’s character is actually pretty interesting. She brings out a great performance, and you understand where she’s coming from as a person. Her bond with Bumblebee is definitely one of the best parts of the entire movie, unlike Shia LaBeouf’s forgettable and bland relationship with the Autobot in the first three films. These two carry a sense of innocence and joy, which is something that’s been heavily missing in the franchise. John Cena can be a little cartoony, but you’re able to let that go as the movie goes on.
Bumblebee has taken a terrible and convoluted film series into the right direction with fun action sequences and memorable characters. With the help of Travis Knight’s direction, the Transformers franchise finally has the touch and the power. Let’s hope Michael Bay stays only as a producer in upcoming instalments, and more passionate filmmakers eventually take on these projects.
Bumblebee is now playing in theatres.