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Bumblebee takes audiences on an entertaining and story-driven ride, with this prequel to the Transformers franchise

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Hailee Steinfeld delivers an excellent performance in perhaps the best Transformers movie to date

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Bumblebee takes audiences on an entertaining and story-driven ride, with this prequel to the Transformers franchise

Shortly after escaping to Earth, Bumblebee is forced to fight his way through a military group and a Decepticon, in hopes of saving his life. He gets badly beaten, and, after shifting into a 1967 beetle, he finds his way into an old junk yard where Charlie discovers him. She cleans and fixes him up, and their friendship begins when he transforms for the first time in her garage. Bumblebee, also called Bee by Charlie, is internally damaged, after losing his voice and some memory of who he is, and throughout the film his journey consists of regaining his memory, realizing he was sent to protect earth and its people.

Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Charlie Watson, exceeded all my expectations. From her interactions with Bee, to how she deals with the death of her father and her new family setting, Steinfeld’s character undergoes major change and transforms into a completely new person in the end than when she was first introduced. The comedy and emotion she delivered was great, and her acting seemed flawless. It was clear that Steinfeld truly cared for this character, and she put a lot of heart into her. Dylan O’Brien voices Bumblebee for parts of the film, and actually putting a real voice to the character, after 5 movies of nothing, is great. Having that sense of what he sounded like and his vocal interactions with other Autobots was a whole new and fun experience in itself.

Charlie’s “love interest” in this film is Memo (played by Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), and unlike most Hollywood features, they don’t fall in love instantly. One thing that the director and producers nailed, was teenage love. Charlie and Memo didn’t “catch each others’ eyes”, and fall in love instantly. It’s unusual for things to take off right away, and it’s always awkward at times. Memo is seen multiple times working up the courage to say something to Charlie, but she just pushes past him, as she is dealing with a giant robot. Only after he accidentally sees Bee transform, does Charlie actually take the time to notice how sweet and kind Memo is. Even then, things are taken slow. Charlie’s interest in him is clear, but she also wants to get to know him on a personal level instead of jumping straight into things.

For the first time in any Transformers movie, the Decepticons after Bee on Earth are “triple changers”, which simply means they have three modes of transformation. Vehicle, robot, or hovercraft; these Decepticons can travel anywhere on Earth with ease, and make finding Bumblebee no problem at all. Once on Earth, Decepticons Dropkick and Shatter (voiced by Justin Theroux and Angela Bassett) gain the trust of Agent Burns (John Cena) and the rest of the military organization. After gaining access to all military satellites, the Decepticons being planning something much bigger than just destroying Bee. With their home Cybertron plaugued by destruction and war, Earth seems like the perfect place for the invasion of a Decepticon army.

The plot of Bumblebee was one never before seen in a Transformers movie. It had characters that were built from a place where we could make a connection and care for them, rather than throwing a sloppy Shia LaBeouf screaming and running around with robots. The story was engaging, and when it did come down to the action, it was choreographed and executed perfectly. Each fight Bee had served a purpose in moving the story forwards, and they were all visually stunning.

Director Travis Knight has a past in stop motion animation, which is clear in his fantastic attention to detail. From the movement in his eyes alone, Bumblebee is able to express so much emotion and character on a level that has not been achieved in any Transformers movie yet. They way Bee interacts with Charlie is so sincere and friendly, and the relationship between them was crafted through the emotional bond Knight allowed us to make. Bee’s simplistic yet kind robotic movements create a sense of safety and comfort to Charlie.

This is the first Transformers film not directed by Michael Bay, and it is also the first in the series to be praised, based on the few critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Having Knight steer the boat on this one was the best decision for the franchise, and if any future installments are in the works, Michael Bay directing it could result in yet another disastrous film. His work with special effects and action sequences is amazing, but going the route and having a different director could bring another great film like Bumblebee. Being set 70 years before the first Transformers movie, there is room for a sequel or other prequels of different Autobots, but the process of doing so would have to be done carefully. If the events of Transformers(2007) are to make sense after these movies, there can’t be armies of Decepticons and Autobots fighting and destroying the world, because then there would be no reason for Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky to be so surprised when he sees Bumblebee for the first time.

Bumblebee tops all other movies in its series, and the prequel is a step in the right direction if any movies are to follow. The cast, action, story, and heart all worked seamlessly together; which made this film one of my favorites this year. Hitting theaters December 21st, Bumblebee should be near the top of your list of movies to see this holiday season.

Bumblebee: 10/10

About the Writer
Matthew Silbernagel, Film Critic

Matthew Silbernagel is a junior. He enjoys going to movies, listening to music, and hanging out with friends. He hopes to accomplish writing movie reviews...

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Bumblebee takes audiences on an entertaining and story-driven ride, with this prequel to the Transformers franchise