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

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Film Review: SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (USA 2018) ***

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Poster
Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and crosses paths with his counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat to all reality.

Writers:

Phil Lord (screenplay by), Brian Michael Bendis (Miles Morales created by) | 6 more credits »

With three directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman and two writers, Phil Lord and Rothman (not to mention a total of 140 animators), it is of no wonder the new Spider-Man movie, an animated one at that is all over the place, a venue that anything and everything can happen at one time.  Which is hard to follow.  In this age of cellphone, internet and gaming technology, younger folk will be able to appreciate more of what is whizzing past on the screen that the older moviegoer.  I was not too  impressed.  The film is produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the duo that directed the LEGO MOVIE and after that the incomprehensible LEGO spinoffs that I hated.  SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE was initially more than 2-hours long then edited into a trim 90-minutes, the normal run ing length or an animated feature.

As if there are insufficient directors and writers, it appears that one Spider-Man is not enough.  Drawing parallels from the super action hero movie GUARDIANS OF THE GALXAY, more here are needed.  In fact a character runs similar to the Groot character in GUARDIANS, Peter Porker aka Spider-Ham, a cartoonish dwarfism version of Spider-Man.  Peter Porker is he funniest of all the spin-off pier characters.

The premise involves Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) who becomes Spider-Man after bitten by a spider.  To be racially and political accepted in films, Miles is of his Brooklyn upbringing, half-Puerto Rican and half-African-American background, and the fact that his family is still alive, with that family dynamic being central to the film’s story.  Spider-Man crosses a parallel universe and teams up with the Spider-Men and Spider-Woman of those dimensions to stop a threat to all reality.

The other  Spider-Men in the film include Jake Johnson as Peter B. Parker (Spider-Man), Miles’ reluctant mentor, a disheveled version of the heroJohn Mulaney as Peter Porker (Spider-Ham), Kimiko Glenn as Peni Parker Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy (Spider-Woman), a “free-spirited” superhero.

Nothing much else in the story but lots of animated action sequences, if one likes that sort of thing.

At least the animation is impressive.  Aaron Davis, the animated Mahershala Ali character who is Miles’ uncle looks almost exactly like the red actor Ali, and so do a  few more characters.

If you have not had enough of Spider-Man and his cronies after this film, there is another Iive action Spider-Man opening in the near 2019.  Soon there will be Iive action and animated Spider-Man movies running in parallel every year. 

Critics have so for far praised SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, which went n to be nominated for Best Animated Feature at the next Golden Globes 2019.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg52up16eq0