We’re told not to have favourite children, but BumbleBee clearly holds that title in the Transformers family, so it’s no surprise we get to enjoy his origin story in the BumbleBee spin-off.
Taking us back to 1987, BumbleBee the Autobot is on the run from his home planet of Cybertron, trying to avoid the Decepticons who’ve destroyed it, and seek to quash the uprising he’s part of.
Finding refuge in the junkyard of a small Californian beach town, our female protagonist, 18-year-old Charlie, stumbles across BumbleBee while looking for her first car. The two hit it off, and BumbleBee proves to be the best friend a girl can have as Charlie grieves the loss of her Dad and the perils of adolescence.
The backbone of BumbleBee is much the same as the other Transformers: Autobots come to Earth to outwork plans of a higher purpose, and are misunderstood and attacked by our government agencies, finding favour with a select group of Earthlings who love their curiosity and their plan to protect us.
“Cassette tapes, recorded players, and reel-to-reels are all on display, with Charlie’s band t-shirts reminding us just how retro-cool she is.”
What BumbleBee tries to do differently though, is find some leverage in taking us back to the era when our love for the Transformers began. The overly-enhanced modern Autobots have been pared back to less-metal-more-plastic iterations, so you can almost see invisible kid’s hands carrying them and making up voices.
Cassette tapes, recorded players, and reel-to-reel technology are all on display, with Charlie’s band t-shirts and overalls reminding us just how retro-cool she is. Annoyed at her Mum for moving on from the loss of her Dad too quickly, and her little brother Otis for, well, being her little brother, Charlie is an icon for mopey teenagers.
Unfortunately, despite the nostalgia factor, BumbleBee doesn’t have the pizzazz of the Shia LaBeouf movies though. The gag of BumbleBee using a radio to speak has already been done, as well as that of an oversized robot ‘sneaking’ around the house. The movie might still win you over, though, with BumbleBee spitting out The Smiths tapes in favour of Bowie, and using puppy-dog eyes to communicate with Charlie. It is pretty cute.
Delivery aside, BumbleBee is easy to watch and carries the spirit of playfulness and loyalty that fans of the franchise enjoy. There’s a goofiness that make the characters embarrassingly relatable, and perfect for young viewers to admire.
BumbleBee is a good holiday watch about family, friends, and young people making brave decisions. It’s in cinemas now.