Travis Knight directs Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. in this soft reboot of the alien robots who can camouflage themselves as everyday vehicles saga.
I haven’t been to see a Transformers film since the first one. That moneymaker suffered from unloveable leads and FX driven action that was way too visually cluttered to follow. The sequels all looked like more of the headache inducing same but with bonus tasteless jokes and dafter evolutions. I saved some time and sanity and decided it all wasn’t for me. Yet Bumblebee felt different. Hailee Steinfeld is front and centre – an actress with buckets of natural magnetism and far more acting talent than her part needs. The retro 1980’s vibe isn’t just a gimmick to get a solid upbeat vintage soundtrack into the mix. This intentionally, rather shamelessly, feels and plays like a forgotten Amblin flick from my youth. The relationship between the child and the fantastical robot, the awkward teen romance, the goofy family who pitch in, the ethereal lighting… like every day is the last week of a summer holiday… it all recreates the formula. Simplicity, warmth, adventure. What a family blockbuster used to promise. The action is clean and clear, Knight’s animation background means he can marshal many moving parts without ever losing you in the geography and stakes. And the construct of Bumblebee himself retains a winning personality so you care whether he is saving the world, fighting for his life or causing chaos in the domestic setting. A self consciously old school treat, not life changing but franchise reviving.