<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>


Directed by Travis Knight. Starring Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider

Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes


The reason BumbleBee has gotten such great reviews and is doing so well is that Paramount Pictures and director Travis Knight stuck to Transformers canon and made a movie for fans and lovers of good cinema alike.

We’d all like to forget the last bunch of Michael Bay Transformers movies. They were nothing but a cacophony of incoherent action sequences and crappy storylines that had nothing to do with the original Transformers. Every fan knew this and hated the creators of this series for it. The Autobots and Decepticons in these films looked nothing like what the original Transformers did in the animated series, the animated film and their action figure avatars. They will never be, in my opinion, Transformers films.


With BumbleBee, even though Bay is a producer, we have what is a real Transformers film since the original Transfomers The Movie animated film that released in 1986. It had all the iconic scenes, including the death of Optimus Prime, with amazing animation and a kick ass background score.

BumbleBee works because it’s not about the action, even though there is a good amount of that. It’s a coming-of-age film, set in the 80s, with lots of nostalgia and some great writing, acting and directing happening here. It reminds me of other non-human-hero films like Short Circuit and E.T. It has its silly moments, just like the original animated series; it has all the multi-coloured robots in disguise that we recognise and love. But it also has a touching tale of a girl who lost her father and is trying to cope with life, being a teenager, adapting to a new family environment and finding herself. BumbleBee isn’t just a soldier trying to protect her and the planet. He’s almost like a child at points, learning, growing and bonding with the girl. I found myself tearing up at points… In a Transformers film!


Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) loves working with her hands, especially on cars. That’s how she stumbles across the yellow VW Beetle that has been in hibernation since his battle with Starscream when they landed on Earth after a battle on their planet of Cybertron (perfectly rendered). Of course the Beetle is BumbleBee, hiding from the slightly dim-witted Colonel Burns (John Cena). But apart from the parallel story of two Decepticons – Dropkick (Angela Bassett) and Shatter (Justin Theroux) – and Burns hunting him down, most of the film is about the friendship between Charlie and Bee. And it’s heart-warming, lovely, intelligent and nuanced. Writer Christina Hodson has conceived such wonderful dialogue and situations that allow us to feel so much watching a mostly mute Bee emoting his thoughts and feelings for things around him and for his new buddy.

There are lots of callbacks for fans of Transformers and people who loved living in the 80s. It’s not forced, but depicted with purpose and deftly woven into the fabric of the script. You actually feel like you’re watching a movie made in that time period. I only know of one other creative endeavour of this era that is able to evoke that time period so nicely: Stranger Things.


Hailee Steinfeld has a remarkable talent; she’s fresh and lacks any starry attitude that would overshadow her acting.

Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures have redeemed themselves with BumbleBee. I hated them for ruining my memories of this beloved childhood franchise. I expect considering the success of this one, both critically and financially, they’ll keep the next films as close to the originals as possible.


BumbleBee is charming, witty (the preview theatre erupted in laughter several times), intelligent, stirring, thrilling and sentimental. Is this a Transformers film, you say? Robots in disguise, remember. You’ll love it.

P.S.: I hope Paramount Pictures treats the next Star Trek film in the same way they did this one. 


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