I am filing a restraining order against Travis Knight, as he has most definitely been reading my diary. I mean, 80s pop culture, cool and easy to see action, surprisingly funny comedy, along with my future wife Hailee Steinfeld?
Yeah, stay 100 feet away Mr. Knight. Bumblebee was a movie I was expecting to be, well, awful. It looked cliche and melodramatic, but I am pleased to say that is most definitely not the case, with a movie that has penetrated my top 10 favorite movies of the year. With that, we have a large amount to discuss, so let’s dive in.
First up is the best part of the movie, and that has got to be the magnificent comedy. Now, with some of the previous instalments of the franchise, they focus more on lowest common denominator humor such as jokes about bodily fluids and racial insensitivity. However, Bumblebee combines two things which make it quite amusing, those two being impeccable visual comedy and some actually good writing.
Bumblebee was written by Christina Hodson, who also wrote such critically acclaimed films such as Unforgettable and Shut-in. However, Hodson creates some well written and more importantly well timed jokes.
Now, this could be attributed to the characters, who we will get to in due time, but I really enjoyed some of the comedy with a few good jokes. There are two scenes which hurt my stomach from laughter, both of which involve Bumblebee, and they are just hilarious. Just writing this I’m laughing at one, which is maybe one of the funniest moments in a film this year, competing with the bullet removal in Game Night and “Why is Gamora?” from Infinity War. It really is a fantastic comedy.
Second on the list of topics is the action and subsequently, the visual effects. Now, going back to the Bay films, they all have pretty much the same exact problems. They edit and cut too fast, which wouldn’t be a huge problem if the Transformers looked different from each other, but they don’t. Hence, the action scenes between the robots is pretty much just two giant scrap heaps who got their Mardi Gras beads tangled together. In Bumblebee, they focus on the shot longer and they make the Transformers different colors. Instead of two giant piles of gray, we get awesome yellow and blue robots fighting each other.
However, let me get to the visual effects. Now, are there some moments where the CG is really bad? Yes, but I can overlook a hand touching Bumblebee’s face not looking great because of the opening scene on Cybertron which was awesome. I’m not quite sure how they were already turning into cars, but whatever. One shot of a giant explosion combined with a collapsing tower was so awesome I am willing to overlook any flaws when it comes to the visual effects, and there are really not many. Throughout the film the effects are top-notch, and while it may not receive an Oscar nomination for them, they’re still impressive.
The last positive I want to talk about is the characters of the film. Now, again, with the Bay films the characters are all 2D cut-outs of stereotypes with next to no development besides one key aspect like being an inventor. Now, I’m not saying that these characters are some of the greatest ever written or completely original, but they are actually interesting.
That can probably be attributed to getting charismatic actors like John Cena and Hailee Steinfeld who bring a charm to every role they play. However, in a shocking turn of events, the most likable (human, because Bumblebee destroys the rest) character is Jorge Lendeborg, who some may recognize from Love, Simon, who plays the character Memo. He plays something of a love interest for Steinfeld and they did have legitimate chemistry. All the characters get a moment to shine with a good joke, and they’re all fairly easy to like.
Now as always, I’ll bring up a negative, and while I do have one, it’s not a crippling problem. Bumblebee is a fairly cliche film with a predictable plot. I could see the end of every plot thread from miles away. It’s the classic tale of E.T. with an evil government forcing a young person to hide an alien. However, it is an interesting film and that is a huge nitpick. The only other thing is the few moments where the CGI could be improved, but it’s miles better than say… Goosebumps 2.
So that wraps up my thoughts on Bumblebee, and after going over all of that, I think instead of sending him notes on the restraining order, I’m going to put my dream journals in there. It really was a movie that felt made for me, and I’ve never even been a big Transformers fan! Bumblebee is this year’s Greatest Showman, as it’s about to surprise so many people. It’s some of the most fun I’ve had in a theater since seeing Upgrade, and everyone needs to Bumble-see this movie.