Bumblebee Story: On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie ( Hailee Steinfeld ), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.
Bumblebee Review: As civil war ravages the alien planet Cybertron – home to the Autobots and Decepticons, Bumblebee is tasked with escaping to Earth in an attempt to provide refuge to the Autobots. However, he loses his memory along the way and ends up in a garage in San Francisco . Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), is struggling with the demise of her father as she turns 18 and decides to gift herself a car when she encounters Bumblebee. Little does she know that he’s on a mission and she is soon thrown into the thick of a battle for supremacy.
Director Travis Knight focuses on Charlie and her relationship with Bumblebee. The alien robot is childlike in his mannerisms, and some of the best scenes involve the two getting to know each other. Set in the '80s, the soundtrack anchors the story-line especially since Bumblebee communicates mainly through a mixture of various sound clips. Hailee Steinfeld provides the essential human factor sorely lacking in the franchise so far. She’s far from eye-candy as Charlie tries to find her own identity while dealing with grief. John Cena as Agent Burns is effectively menacing but doesn’t add much other than a standard, disruptive authoritative figure with a bone to pick.
The 'Transformers' franchise has become synonymous with Michael Bay’s trademark bombastic action mayhem which bordered on the verge of being obnoxious, and often migraine-inducing. 'Bumblebee' immediately sets itself apart from that approach, aiming towards a character-driven narrative rather than chaotic set-pieces that stumble over themselves as things go boom. This isn’t to say the action is lacking – far from it! The fight sequences are easy to follow, and the CGI is practically seamless. Despite all the major plot points being typically predictable, credit is due to Travis Knight for achieving what one deemed impossible – erasing pretty much all memory of this film's problematic predecessors. 'Bumblebee' is certainly the best example of what this franchise is meant to be, and should it continue this path, the Transformers can become exciting and enjoyable all over again.