Film Review: BUMBLEBEE (USA 2018)

Bumblebee Poster
On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.

Director:

Travis Knight

Writers:

Christina Hodson (screenplay by), Christina Hodson(story by)

BUMBLE BEE is a transformer character, who is the main lead in the 6th instalment of the TRANSFORMERS film franchise.  The 6th film, entitled BUMBLEBEE is also saves as the prequel to the 2006 film THE TRANSFORMERS set in the 80’s.

The film begins in the world of Cybertron.  The audience is immediately immersed in a battle scene.  The heroic Autobots, led by Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Ciullen), are on the verge of losing their war with their enemies, the evil Decepticons, and make preparations to flee the planet.  The Decepticons ambush them during the evacuation, and Optimus sends young scout B-127 (voice of Dylan O’Brien) to Earth to set up a base of operations where the Autobots can regroup.  How does the audience know what is going on?  By one line of dialogue in Optimus Prime’s communication with B-127.

So, B-127 reaches Earth alone in 1987, crash-landing in California and disrupting a training exercise being conducted by Sector 7, a secret government agency that monitors extraterrestrial activity on Earth.  S7 lieutenant Jack Burns (John Cena) presumes him a hostile invader and attacks, driving B-127 into the forest, where he is then ambushed by the Decepticon Blitzwing.  When B-127 refuses to disclose Optimus’s whereabouts, Blitzwing spitefully tears out his vocal processors and damages his memory core. B-127 manages to destroy Blitzwing before collapsing from his wounds. Before entering stasis, B-127 scans and transforms into a nearby 1967 Volkswagen Beetle.

B-127 as the V. Beetle is discovered by a girl, Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld, best remembered as the teen in the Coen Brothers’ TRUE GRIT) who nurses him back to health, nicknaming him Bumblebee  The Deceptiocons trace Bumblebee resulting in a climatic battle at the end of the film.

For a TRANSFORMER instalment, the theory of louder and bigger do not apply here.  The action scenes are minimal with more attention paid to the story of Charlie’s family on Earth.  Unfortunately it is a dull and cliched story.  Charlie’s father has passed on and mother, Sally (Pamela Adlon) has remarried.  Charlie does not get along with Ortis (Jason Drucker) her younger brother and her stepfather.  She goes loggerheads with her mother as well, wanting her freedom.  There is nothing remotely interesting in this family drama and the script does to make any attempt to try to make anything interesting or different either.  The family drama eats into the action segments in the 2-hour running time, resulting in less action than the other TRANSFORMER films in the franchise.  The 80’s setting is created by filling the soundtrack with 80’s tunes with a few 80’s props here and there.

The climatic battle is between Bumblebee and his two predators and it does not a genius to guess who will prevail.  The film has many glaring loose ends.  With Bumblebee near its death, Bumblebee is suddenly restored to full straight without much explanation.  How did Optimus Prime land on earth at the very end to speak to Bumblebee?

The silly romantic subplot between Charlie’s neighbour, Memo (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) is an annoying distraction.  Films these days always need to put in an inter-racial relationship for political correctness, that have become too obvious.  Lendborg Jr. is neither funny, charming or smart, unlike Jason Druker who plays Cahrlie’s brother Ortis, Drucker stealing every scene he is in.  The other actor that takes everything with a pinch of salt is John Cena.  John Ortis as the goofy Dr. Powell puts in a bit of life into the story.

With the slant of this latest Transformer movie to the female gender, (the script was also written by Christina Hodson, one wonders whether the male fans will still stay loyal to the series.    The boy and his dog tale has deteriorated into a girl an her ‘bot’ tale.  BUMBLEBEE is in competition with a dozen or so big Christmas openings.  It is anyone’s guess how it will do.  

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcwmDAYt22k

Film Review: THE DEATH CURE (USA 2018)

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Maze Runner: The Death Cure Poster
Trailer

Young hero Thomas embarks on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as the “Flare”.

Director:

Wes Ball

Writers:

T.S. Nowlin (screenplay by), James Dashner (based upon the novel “The Death Cure” by)

 

The last of the trilogy of MAZE RUNNER films, though advertised as MAZE RUNNER: DEATH CURE, the opening credits list the film as THE DEATH CURE.  Obviously so, as there is no maze in this film or in the second film either.  

The film opens with a special effects ridden train hijack, by trucks and hidden hijackers though attacked by manned and armed drone-like flyers.  Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and Brenda (Rosa Salazar) chasing down a WCKD train holding a group of immunes, including Minho (Ki Hong Lee), the one they aim to rescue.  They are chased by a Berg, which lets Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and Vince (Barry Pepper) arrive, blowing up the connector rail that connects the train cars together.  Brenda and Jorge get help from Frypan (Dexter Darden) before hijacking the Berg and return to the train, pulling the carriage full of immune with them, and Thomas, Vince and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Snagster) aboard.

They arrive at the rebel base only to discover Minho was in another carriage, yet they managed to free numerous immunes.  At WCKD’s headquarters, they perform numerous tests on Minho to extract a serum from him.  

  The thing that is supposed to make much sense is that the immunes have it in their blood to produce a vaccine that will eve the world, or they turn into zombie-like beings.  Yes, nothing much else is expected story-wise either, despite the fact that each film in the trilogy is based on a book.

The film’s main character in THE DEATH CURE and in the other 2 films is Thomas (Dylan O’Brien).  Other characters like his love interest Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and best mate Newt are also present.  As fights go, it is difficult to get excited at whether a character survives or dies as two dead characters in THE MAZE RUNNER (the first film) who are supposed to be dead are miraculously resurrected for no good reason.  One is Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson), the Head of WCKD who shot herself in the first film.  The other is Gally (Will Poulter) who is speared by Minho.  Gally and Minho are both friendlier in this film.  The film also introduces a few new characters, all none too exciting except for Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito).  The villain of the piece is Janson (Aidan Gillen) who is given a chance to fight Thomas, the hero at the film’s climax.

The film runs too long at 2 hours and 20 minutes.  The film definitely could have been shortened as it seems that the story is made up as it goes along.  The special effects are impressive but that is no reason to go see a movie for.  This is director Ball’s third film in the MAZE RUNNER trilogy and one would think he would have improved with his final entry in the franchise.

The first MAZE RUNNER cost $34 million to make, grossing $384 million while the second $61 million to make and grossing $312 million.  This final one cost a whopping $83 million to make, is the lengthiest and the most boring of the lot.  It should cover costs but profits will be tough to beat!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_9OSktlm6s

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