I also saw this movie on a plane but since it’s technically a Transformers’ movie that might be a point in its favor. Because I didn’t have to pay for it.

In the grand tradition of Transformers’ movies, Bumblebee gives zero shits about timeline. But unlike other films in the franchise, it does attempt to build a coherent narrative.

Back in the 80s, Bumblebee is sent to Earth to form a resistance base for the Autobots by Optimus Prime. Why? Unknown. Especially since “later” movies establish that Earth has had Transformers forever it’s weird that the Decepticons don’t know where it is. But whatever. When he lands, he is immediately set upon by John Cena and a Decepticon who followed him. In the ensuing fight he loses both his voice box and his memory, his last act transforming himself into a Volkswagen bug. The car is discovered by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) who quickly learns that her car is more than meets the eye.

Easily the best Transformers’ movie since the first one (which is probably much worse than I remember). Bumblebee has a lot of heart. If the series had begun with this movie, and ditched the Bay, I think we might actually have a great sci-fi series on our hands.

The 80s theme of the movie quickly gets grating. The tropes and cliches are so pronounced it’s hard to tell if they are being subversive. Since it’s a Transformers movie I’m going to guess not. Band references come hard and fast. Alf shows up at least twice, and there’s a gaggle of hot girls that are mean to Charlie for zero reason. John Cena’s character is also a walking military cliche. He literally salutes Bumblebee at the end like an idiot. It’s like they really wanted to make a movie straight out of the 80s, without realizing that most 80s movies are full of garbage ideas like that.

But overall I had a decent time. The narrative pulls together. The fights are fun, and the relationship between Bee and Charlie is neither forced nor heavy-handed.

2.5 out of 4 stars

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