“Bumblebee, our war rages on. You must protect Earth, and its people.”
Don’t sleep on Bumblebee. Yes, it’s a Transformers movie, with all of the expected giant robots crashing into each other. This time though you can actually see what’s happening when the metallic behemoths collide. More importantly, the action comes secondary to character. For the first time since the series began in 2007 the relationship between the lead human and Autobot characters is paid due diligence, here between Hailee Steinfeld’s Charlie and the titular hero.
The pair form the core of all the film does best. I’d happily watch just their hijinks alone, completely removed from the (serviceable, if unexciting) action that inevitably muscles in. Bumblebee’s expressive eyes and bright personality go a long way toward making him the most relatable Autobot we’ve seen, his fish out of water mishaps bringing plenty of humour as he tries to negotiate a nostalgia-filled 1980s California.
Where it fares worse is with the antagonists, the human and Decepticon threats feeling flat, meaning all of the high stakes, big bluster moments are far less interesting. This is, however, still a major improvement on the past four franchise entries. With a new director at the helm, the robots in disguise finally feel back in safe hands.
Rating (out of 5):