Directed by Travis Knight, Bumblebee is an epic tale and a true joy to watch. It’s the sixth installment of the Transformers film series and a prequel to 2007’s Transformers, the 87th highest-grossing film of all-time.
Bumblebee begins on Cybertron, where the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), are about to lose the civil war with their enemies, the Decepticons. As they commence evacuations, the Decepticons ambush them and Optimus decides to send a young scout named B-127 (Dylan O’Brien) to Earth with the mission of setting up a base of operations for the Autobots. B-127 crash-lands in California during the year 1987 and, in the process, disrupts a training exercise being conducted by a secret government agency charged with monitoring extraterrestrial activity on Earth known as Sector 7.
Sector 7 Colonel Jack Burns (John Cena) figures that B-127 is a hostile invader and attacks, driving him into the forest. He is subsequently ambushed by the Decepticon Blitzwing. After refusing to reveal Optimus’s whereabouts, Blitzwing tears out B-127’s voicebox and causes severe damage to his memory core. After killing Blitzwing, he scans and transforms into a nearby 1967 Volkswagen Beetle.
Cut to Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenager traumatized by the death of her father and extremely bitter at her mother, Sally (Pamela Adlon), and step-father, Ron (Stephen Schneider), for getting together. She finds B-127 (still in car form) in a scrap yard belonging to Uncle Hank (Len Cariou), who eventually gives it to her as a birthday present. When starting B-127, she unknowingly activates a homing signal that’s detected in space by the Decepticons. They head to Earth and trick Sector 7 into helping them find and capture B-127.
In the interim, Charlie grows close to B-127 and nicknames him “Bumblebee.” She also teaches him how to speak through his radio system. Bumblebee is discovered by Charlie’s neighbor Memo (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.). He agrees to keep quiet due to his intense crush on Charlie. The three join together to hold the Decepticons at bay and prevent them from destroying Earth.
Bumblebee is a delightful film. I loved that it was a character-driven story. Steinfeld turned in an exceptional performance as the angst-filled teenager beset by grief who is launched into a titanic fight for her life and the lives of all around her. The 1980s setting and inspiring soundtrack further enhanced the film.
I give Bumblebee four out of five stars.