(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)
(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)
SW SCORE: 42
4.5 out of 5 🐙
When I saw the preview for this movie, I was like “no way”. I am not a fan of what Michael Bay did to the Transformers. That shit was a war crime. But then I started to hear the whispers that it was a good – even great – movie. I investigated and saw that Michael Bay did not direct it. He just produced it. So I caved in and saw it.
I couldn’t be happier.
The whole movie is like you took E.T. and added ass kicking and modernized it and gave it a triumphant ending, not just a bittersweet one.
The friendship between Bumblebee and Charlie (portrayed by the fantastic Hailee Steinfeld; she of the scene stealing magic in True Grit) is joyous. Their friendship was developed at a strong and well-measured pace by director Travis Knight. It was sweet and, I know I’m about to type this, but the chemistry between Charlie and Bumblebee, a CGI creation, was palpable. If there’s any hope for a benevolent Artificial Intelligence, I think it will look like this. It really was a sweet, loving friendship. Bumblebee is a charmingly awkward being with absolutely no fear and the relentlessness of any great action movie hero. He cooly uses martial arts to compensate for his smaller size and he is in general . Charlie is a worthy counterpart to him. She’s more self-assured than her robot friend who dwarfs her in size and strength. It isn’t the old trope of a big guy being timid and a small person being bold. Both characters have pluck and courage and both of their personalities are vibrant. And their friendship is the same.
The movie is a prequel to the Transformers movies and universe in general. Bumblebee is sent ahead to Earth as the Autobots are scrambling to escape from the Decepticons and need a place to sanctuary. The battle scenes from Cybertron were dope AF. They made sure to show Bumblebee shed his historically cute and toothless reputation (from the TV show anyhow) to a straight up ass kicker. He was awesome.
There was joy everywhere. The soundtrack is full of fantastic 80s music so it made my ass sing (I was raised in the 80s). The family in the movie is watching Alf which is a fantastically weird and terrible 80s sitcom. The Optimus Prime hologram was certainly inspired by the Princess Leia one in Star Wars but I suppose you could say that about every hologram. Knight employs a novel twist on the montage scene to breath fresh life into it and he does the same for the classic car chase trope. Bumblebee makes his musical preferences known in a very funny moment. Be on the lookout for another 80s movie homage to Commando. When it’s suggested that the Decepticons might be trusted, the fantastic response is “They literally call themselves Decepticons.” And the last one I’ll mention, sorta, is the perfect tease at the end for future Transformer stories.
I do have one question. Why doesn’t Bumblebee just type out messages to Charlie? He’s got super advanced alien technology and he can’t fashion a way to respond to SMS messages on a smart phone? Their inventive solutions to their communication difficulties is very funny and creative so I’m not really complaining. This is just a lame quibble.
The ending is triumphant like I said before. But it has an edge that might make you shed a tear. I’m not crying. You’re crying. But all in all, it’s an absolute joy to watch. Transform and roll out.
(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.
(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)
(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so
(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)