Due to the lack of material within the second week of December, it made perfect sense for me to give my audience a double-feature for the 26th. This also represents my very last review for the year 2018, and I am pleased to say that this was an incredibly pleasant surprise when considering how I've viewed 'Transformers' films in the past. Basically, I thought the first one was awesome for its time, and it was just a downhill slope of repetitiveness and messy direction from there.
However, here we are with a 'Transformers' film that Michael Bay didn't get to tinker with, and instead is helmed by Laika animator, Travis Knight. This is the guy who brought us the animation of 'Coraline', 'ParaNorman', 'The Box Trolls' and 'Kubo and the Two Strings', which he also directed. 'Bumblebee' is really the first time we've seen this guy break away from Laika, and dive right into the mainstream with the now 6th 'Transformers' movie. And oh yeah, for my money, this is the best one of the batch so far.
We start things on Cybertron, where the Autobots and Decepticons are at war. Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) sends B-127 (Dylan O'Brien) to Earth - a hidden planet on which Optimus hopes to establish a new base of operations for the Autobots. We then turn our attention to B-127, and the 'E.T.' like relationship he develops with a girl named Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld) who gives him the name of "Bumblebee" due to what he sounds like after getting his voice box ripped out by a Decepticon named Blitzwing (David Sobolov). Along the way, the pair also befriend the awkward neighbour, Memo (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), who has a bit of a crush on Charlie, but thank God the love interest doesn't take the front seat here.
In the meantime, Colonel Jack Burns (John Cena) is interested in Bumblebee, after he crashes a training exercise upon landing on Earth. Burns sees him as a hostile pretty much immediately. He, and other soldiers of Sector 7, are visited by two Decepticons, Shatter (Angela Bassett) and Dropkick (Justin Theroux), who claim Bumblebee to be a wanted criminal on their home planet, and ask permission to use Earth's satellites to track him.
So, while the movie loses a few points for being the 'E.T.' idea all over again (or any kid-plus-strange-pet scenario), it still manages to keep a high rating for me based on a few things the previous films don't have much of. Namely these are emotional investment in the characters, the ability to see how the robot fights play out without it looking like such a mess, and hell, I'm just gonna say it, these felt so much more genuinely like the Transformers I grew up with when we do get to see them. When Soundwave came on the scene, I could have cheered because dammit, they nailed it this time.
All in all, this just has more structure, more heart, more character and more emotion to it than any of the previous films, and for that, I'm thankful. I'm hoping that this launches some newer, better 'Transformers' films as well. None of this has to be rebooted at this point, since this pretty much heads into the first film upon its ending. But hopefully we can get more like this. It's good for the old school fans, good for the newcomers, and I daresay, it even its the nostalgia mark really well.