Bumblebee (2018)
December 30, 2018 11:37 PM - Subscribe

On the run in the year 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. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary yellow VW bug.
posted by cendawanita (21 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Made this post because I just wanted to give a positive well-earned shout to this 80s pastiche of a teen/coming-of-age movie. Transformers actually transform! Bumblebee remains the cutest! Optimus Prime, not an asshole! A genuinely earnest movie that neither hates the IP nor the audience!

honestly Charlie's story is the plotline Megan Fox's Michaela deserved.

it's not doing as well at the box office apparently, so I just thought if I could make a post to encourage folks to have a think about checking it out.
posted by cendawanita at 11:40 PM on December 30, 2018 [6 favorites]

Andre "Black Nerd" & Lindsay Ellis seemed to like it: BUMBLEBEE CAN GET IT! (ft. Lindsay Ellis) - Movie Talk & Spoilers
posted by Pendragon at 2:41 AM on December 31, 2018

It's from her that I can't get 'the shape of autobot' out of my head
posted by cendawanita at 6:19 AM on December 31, 2018

OK ... so is this *good* good, or is it "oh thank god it's not Michael Bay" good?
posted by kyrademon at 8:29 AM on December 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by cendawanita at 10:02 AM on December 31, 2018

to expand, it's like such a tonal opposite to bayformers without breaking completely from 'continuity' (what continuity?). it's trope-y but done well. to me, it came out of the same sandbox as Iron Giant, ET, Real Steel, and uh, Herbie.
posted by cendawanita at 10:18 AM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Agreed - the Herbie force is string in this one; in the best way.
posted by mce at 1:03 PM on December 31, 2018

OK ... so is this *good* good, or is it "oh thank god it's not Michael Bay" good?

For me it's probably more that latter. It's not bad, by any means at all - Steinfeld is great, the transformers look good, the plot moves along and the action is lucid. But it's very 'competent', if you know what I mean. My kids and I all enjoyed it, but there's been no clamouring about it like there was with Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse, if you know what I mean.
posted by smoke at 1:42 PM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've heard this is good, but I'm afraid that if too many people go to see this that will just result in more of the Bay ones.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:10 PM on December 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

The story I hear is if this does well, the plan is to soft reboot the continuity.... Soooo watch for LESS bayformers
posted by cendawanita at 10:40 PM on December 31, 2018 [3 favorites]

I’m glad someone made a thread for this. I thought about it but I wasn’t sure how to write something that might invite discussion.

I refused to watch any of the Bay movies because the Transformers looked way too overwrought and edgy to be recognizable as the characters they were supposed to be, as well as all of the Bay frat boy stylings. Ick.

Bumblebee hit the right amounts of nostalgia and Spielberg-ishness for my family. The opening scene on Cybertron made me feel 10 years old again. It’s clear this movie was made by someone who knows what we loved about Transformers in the first place.

Mrs. Fleebnork has no more than a passing familiarity with Transformers and she enjoyed it a lot. My son loved it, as one would expect for a 7 year old boy, but I’m glad it was something without all of the Bay sleaziness toward women and racial “jokes.

Go see it! Especially if you enjoyed Transformers before Bay got to them.
posted by Fleebnork at 3:51 PM on January 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

Keep hearing good things about this, I really need to find time to see it. G1 fan, avoided the Bay films, been excited since the trailer and gosh darn it I love Herbie. Herblebee. You know what I mean.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 10:19 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

It was so weird, that first big scene on Cybertron, seeing the Transformers all distinct and recognizable, and transforming mechanically instead of like a swarm of nanobots, and being able to follow what was going on with the action. I didn't know you could do that in a live-action Transformers movie.

And Hailee Steinfeld was so great and funny. I wish it wasn't so refreshing how the movie treats her like a person who wears clothes and is there to do things not to be looked at. I loved how she gets challenged to show her diving skills and is just like, "No, I'm not going to dance for you people."

The Pink Flowers bike helmet (and Smile More self-help-book) were nice little bits of comedy, but it had a great payoff when she rushes off to the final battle and you know she Means Business when she grabs that helmet. And it's played so perfectly that there isn't even a little beat of "haha I guess I'm wearing this now" because things are serious and she needs a helmet and she doesn't give a single thought to what it looks like.

And I laughed when they flooded the battlefield because of course there has to be a payoff to her diving superpower, and there she is at the top of a tower. It's so on the nose but cleverly set up I didn't see it coming until I did.

And Bumblebee is so adorable. I loved how he saved that one ceiling lamp before bumbling his way to destroying the whole living room. And turning into a sports car because he just spotted Optimus Prime and wants to look good for his hero when he races off to meet him.
posted by straight at 12:52 PM on January 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

It was a passable "bad eighties movie" that tried very hard to hit all the beats, but to someone who grew up on bad eighties movies it seemed too contrived.

Like the diving scene. Yes it was established that she used to dive, and that diving meant a lot to her in terms of memories of her dad, but given the context of the moment at the cliff, there was no emotional tension to her backing out of the challenge, and that meant that there was no emotional resolution to the inevitable scene later in the movie when she was faced with the choice again.

Like the "establish her as an expert on car repair" scene.
"hand me a 3/8's"
"you'll want a one-half"
takes 3/8's, it doesn't work
"well I'll be...she's some kinda genius, she is" ugh. lazy, and considering they had several other scenes that could have been used to establish her as an expert and didn't use those either, it really stood out how phoned in this scene was.

Like the house destruction scene. Why??? was it supposed to be an homage to drunk ET? It seemed needlessly and outrageously destructive with, again, no real emotional tension. sure, we expect her to get grounded just when she's needed the most, but in almost the very next scene she's yelling "just trust me" to her mom after basically no trust being rebuilt. lazy.

I did like the amusement park scene, that set piece was fairly well done, and the non-romance between the kids was a nice twist, but with so very very many good examples of how these set-pieces could be put together to build a funny, touching story around all the CG (which was cool and pretty and better than Bay), I was left feeling like they phoned it in.

As a counter-point, my 14 y.o. son liked it.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:03 PM on January 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

I saw it just now and loved it! The plot was by-the-numbers predictable and it leaned heavily into 80's nostalgia, but I didn't mind it all -- it was almost comforting, in that way. I've not seen any of the other Transformer films (or the original series -- I had a few Transformer toys as a kid which I liked, but I wasn't into them), so I have nothing to compare it to, but I really loved the CG and the Autobots' expressions. I actually teared up a bit during the scene in the garage where Charlie and Bumblebee first meet because it reminded me of what it's like to deal with a terrified dog who assumes everyone is going to hurt them, and the joy and relief they feel when someone treats them with tenderness and love (which was probably the theme the film-makers were going for, but hey, it home!).

What I loved most, however, was that Charlie was a person. I realize that sounds kind of stupid (I mean, it's not like she's an Autobot), but about halfway through the film I was delighted to realize that she wasn't being expressly gendered (well, except for maybe the purple flowered helmet and the "smile more" book) -- Charlie could have easily been played by a boy. As someone who grew up watching 80's and 90's film that had these similar "teen saves the day" themes, but the hero was always a dude, it delighted my inner child that here was a leading teen character that I would have related to so hard if this had actually come out in the 80's. I was so relieved when the jock with his shirt off was just a minor thing that didn't have any importance -- yeah, Charlie might have had a vague attraction to him just because he's that pretty, popular dude, and hormones, y'know. BUT. She seemed to be more envious of the mean girl because of her shiny new car than the pretty boy, which delighted me because I felt like the film purposely veered away from that cliche 80's teen movie trope.

Which brings me to Memo, who was super adorkable in all the best ways. But I was so appreciative that the only kiss was on the cheek (and which she made clear he shouldn't try to read too much into it) and then, at the end, when you'd expect a "real" kiss to happen, Charlie was like, "Whoa, dude, not so fast, we're not there yet." Because that felt so real life -- Charlie's not the type to decide to suddenly express romantic interest in a dude, even if she's going into -- or surviving -- a dangerous battle.

Basically I loved how the film leaned hard into the tropes and still managed to veer from some of the more expected ones. If that makes sense.

And it just made me happy.
posted by paisley sheep at 9:14 PM on January 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

I agree with most of OHenryPacey's points. I've heard nothing but good things about Christina Hodson, but this movie read like something from an inexperienced screenwriter. It was messy. Yes, it was better than the dreck we've seen previously from this franchise. Yes, the gender stuff was well handled. The story fundamentals were messy.

But with that said, I got what I wanted: a new vision for the Transformers. Enough already with Bay. We've seen his strut. I endured Schumacher's Batman because that's the cost of also getting to see Burton's and Nolan's visions. (And Timm's.) Bumblebee was as good as I expect any action movie to be, with plenty of chases and explosions, and the jokes made me laugh. I hope someone else takes over for the next installment, and so on.

Also? The Transformers franchise overall has done a great job of nodding to those of us who grew up with the toys. The two G.I. Joe films failed at that.
posted by cribcage at 3:26 PM on January 27, 2019

I like this film and agree with the previous posts but just to geek out, in the opening on the home planet why would bumblebee before exposure to earth cars be driving into battle as a corvette?
posted by sammyo at 8:52 PM on March 31, 2019

He wasn’t a Corvette, just a vaguely futuristic/sleek looking cybertron car.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:23 AM on April 1, 2019

I would never have thought that the film with the most The Smiths content would be a Transformers movie. This was so much more enjoyable than its predeccesors by virtue of having less. Fewer giant robots for a more focused story and comprehensible action sequences, fewer weird racial stereotypes and inappropriate sex stuff, and thankfully half an an hour shorter than the average Transformers film. I do wonder what I would have thought of it absent the experience of seeing most of the other films in the franchise, but within that context, it's a welcome respite and most importantly, fun.
posted by subocoyne at 8:22 PM on November 13, 2020

I finally saw this (because our tween asked) and the first thing I did was look up the director on IMDb.

This movie was made by the director of Kubo and the Two Strings.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:32 PM on January 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

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