Review – Bumblebee (2018)
Directed by: Travis Knight
Written by: Christina Hodson
Produced by: Michael Bay
Release Date: December 24th 2018 (UK)
When this movie dropped in late 2018, I never paid any attention to it. Everything in the Transformers series had been awful since the first movie and although I knew that Michael Bay wasn’t directing this one, I was still more than happy to skip it. However, after it opened to rave reviews, it peaked my interest a bit. I was hearing all sorts of good things, with this movie even being compared to the likes of ET and The Goonies.
Reluctantly, I eventually got around to checking out Bumblebee to see if it could live up to the hype surrounding it, but unfortunately it didn’t. So, recently I decided to revisit Bumblebee for review to see if it could win me over and hopefully change my mind.
I went into this movie the first time with fairly lofty expectations, but that was due to what I had heard from other people through word-of-mouth. In fact, I don’t think I heard one bad review for this thing, so I really was expecting something great. So for my re-watch, I had my expectations tempered and unfortunately, it is still just a mediocre Hollywood shlock-fest with some pretty impressive CGI, but a painfully formulaic story with a lazy script and actors phoning in their performances.
Let’s start with the main positive of the movie; the CGI. The animators really did do an incredible job here and there are some truly awesome action sequences that were really impressive to witness, (it is just unfortunate that we had already seen most of these sequences prior to seeing the movie in the trailers.) The robots also felt much more grimy, weighty and realistic in this film as opposed to the more slick and polished feel that they all had in Bay’s Transformers movies, which helped to make it more convincing that the robots were actually present in the room with the actors rather than being added in later in post production.
The other bright spot in the movie was John Cena. Sure, he has played the stereotypical army jarhead plenty of times before, but he is still charismatic and engaging whenever he is onscreen. His career is definitely benefitting from taking roles like this where he is able to be taken less seriously rather than trying to be a super serious action star in forgettable movies like The Marine.
Unfortunately that is about it for the positives, everything else is extremely lazy and generic. The direction is serviceable, the cinematography is nothing special and the score goes through the motions it has to in order to meet the tone of each scene. The script is full of extremely cheesy lines which is delivered half heartedly by the cast who it feels like are pretty much sleepwalking through this thing for the most part. Some characters are fairly irritating such as Memo and Ron, but nothing anywhere near as egregious as Mudflap and Skids from the previous Transformers movies.
And that last statement pretty much sums up my opinion on this movie. Sure, it isn’t anywhere near as annoying, obnoxious, or cringe-inducing as the movies that Michael Bay previously gave us in the main Transformers series, but it is still really cheesy and lazy and isn’t anything special at all.
I think that this movie serves as a lesson for managing your expectations when going to see a film. Due to the fact that the previous Transformers movies are SO bad and so poorly regarded, most people went into this one with little to no expectation that it would be any good. When it actually turned out to be surprisingly half decent, people were so shocked that they began telling everyone else how fantastic this thing was, when it actually isn’t fantastic in any way. It is just less garbage than what we were getting before with these movies. Then, because of all of these brilliant reviews, other people went in expecting something substantial and meaningful and came away sorely disappointed because it turned out to be unremarkable and mediocre.
Overall, I probably would have got more out of this movie if I was told beforehand to just switch off my brain and expect a cheesy popcorn flick. Instead I went in expecting this generation’s E.T because of the overblown reviews and was let down pretty hard. It is not the worst film of 2018 and it is better than anything else in the Transformers series since the first movie, but it is still not anything special. There are a few highs throughout the movie, but in general it is pretty unremarkable and I don’t seeing it standing the test of time in the same way that the movies that it’s being compared to have done.
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