I’ve never been a Transformers fan. I’ve seen the first three and the only one I’ve thought was okay was the first one. I’m also not a Michael Bay fan, so the series never won me on board. Enter Bumblebee, directed Travis Knight, who also directed Kubo and the Two Strings. While I didn’t love Kubo, it had great animation and good characters and the story was decent. I was curious to see what another filmmaker was going to do with the property, aside from Michael Bay as a lot of people we’re. And while Bumblebee is by the best Transformers movie that exists, it is far from perfect.
Let’s start with the positives. Hailee Steinfeld is the best part of this movie. She’s always been a great actress and here she carries the entire film. She’s a delightful presence that the Transformers movies desperately needed after Shia and Wahlberg. She brings out all of the heart and emotional scenes of this movie and she’s going through the loss of her father, which also adds some weight to her family interactions, unlike the previous films.
John Cena is also pretty good in the movie as an agent who wants to hunt down Bumblebee. He’s a decent actor and he’s got a pretty menacing presence on-screen and it should come without surprise since he comes from a wrestling background.
I also cared for Bumblebee as a character, which was surprising. He’s got the most screen-time out of any of the Transformers and it’s cool to see him finally talk.
The jokes are surprisingly not awful this time around. There’s no Michael Bay toilet humor that will take you out every two minutes and while some jokes don’t land, most did.
The opening battle of the movie is also fun and exciting and it’s clear from the start: this is a reboot. It doesn’t follow any of the previous films and it clearly sets up a new timeline. The Transformers all look better than the previous five films before it and they’re roles are much more meaningful this time around.
As for flaws, the film is far too long like all the other films in the franchise. While this is the shortest Transformers film, it’s still half an hour too long for what the material of these movies are. They should be one hour and a half maximum; otherwise it becomes way too long and tiring. It becomes a bloated and explosion-fest film and quite frankly became a bit boring near the end. It’s also a direct copy of the first Transformers film, Superman, The Iron Giant and E.T. The story is very safe and doesn’t really go in unexpected directions, which was a bit disappointing.
Overall, is a fun action popcorn flick and for the first time in five films we’ve got a director that actually cares about the property. Bumblebee is by far the best Transformers movie that should appeal, if for nothing else, to fans of the franchise.