Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
April 14, 2020
Bumblebee: A failure of a toy commercial.

So I finally watched the Bumblebee Transformers movie... and no surprise, I didn't like it. Much like the first Transformers flick (and much of the second) from Michael Bay, it wasn't *really* a Transformers movie -- it was a movie about a girl coming to terms with her father's death and some alien robots just kinda happened to be there to help her along with that. None of the Cybertronians had any character or personality: heck, Bumblebee himself spent most of the movie with his memory erased, so what should have been a capable Autobot soldier spent much of it doing stupid things like transforming in public (none of the 'bots actually seemed to utilize that mechanism for actual DISGUISE purposes) and stumbling around breaking things (at one point, despite his massive size, he sits down on a couch, with predictable results).

(There's one particularly objectionable scene where the human protagonists want to get back at a local mean girl, so they enlist Bumblebee's aid to TP her house and egg her car -- which I guess is relatable for lots of folks, but it's not behavior that should be encouraged and it's not a thing I would ever have done and I'd want my teenage protagonists to have more scruples. So that's bad enough, but Bumblebee takes it too far and totally destroys the girl's car. They laugh and drive off, and the incident is never mentioned again.)

As far as the Decepticons go -- I was going to call them stock cartoon bad guys, but they're not even that cool. They speak almost exclusively in single sentences along the lines of "DID YOU THINK YOU COULD HIDE FROM ME?" "YOU WILL DIE SCREAMING!" "FIRST I KILL YOU, THEN I KILL HER!" Basically the kinds of things a kid (or grown adult YouTuber) would shout while waving toys around and making them crash into each other. And when they kill, they do so not because it makes sense for them to do so, but because they're bad guys. (And when Bumblebee ultimately kills them, he does so because they're bad guys? I'm super sick of heroes killing villains without a shred of remorse or regret. I miss the moral grounding of Transformers Animated.)

It's really my problem with all of the recent live-action Transformers movies -- for whatever reason, and in stark contrast to the depiction of the Autobots and Decepticons in any other media, the writing doesn't seem to regard the Cybertronians as worthy of meaningful dialogue or characterization. A friend responded to my criticisms by wondering what I expected from a glorified toy commercial -- and I guess what I really want from such a movie is for it to make me want toys! But the Cybertronians were so frustratingly one-note that I don't have any desire to buy those figures, and Hasbro didn't make toys of the human girl. (I did like the film's design of Optimus Prime; someday I may end up with a recolor of that toy.)

Anyway -- if you don't particularly care about Transformers and/or have very low expectations/requirements for a movie about Transformers (which would be understandable given the abominable movies that have preceded this one; this is easily better than any of those), you might enjoy Bumblebee. Otherwise... meh. It’s got about as much in common with better Transformers media as ALF -- which I mention because this movie is set in the 80s and in at least two scenes characters are watching ALF on television. The reference is telling. This movie wants to be ALF; it wants to be ET; it wants to be Mac and Me. It does not want to be the thing it says it is.

-posted by Wes | 6:30 pm | Comments (0)
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