As Travis Knight’s Bumblebee finally landed it’s Blu-Ray and digital release here in the UK this week (12/05/2019) it seemed an appropriate time as ever to rewind on one of last year’s best blockbusters. A surprise to say the least when you consider Paramount’s previous outputs with the Transformers franchise under the direction of Micheal Bay, a mess of loud noises, explosions and poorly written characters. So it seems that fresh blood in the form of Travis Knight, best known for his involvement with Laika Entertainment on Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings, may be just what this weary and worn franchise needed.
And revitalise he does, as Bumblebee is a refreshingly small-scale blockbuster, in comparison to the bombastic Bay films, appropriately dubbed Bayformers. Knight rightfully focuses on a more intimate story between Bumblebee and Hailee Stienfield’s delightful Charlie, that pays homage to many other classic story’s like E.T. or Flight of The Navigator, with delicacy and care. Not to mention the many 80s references scattered throughout the film from Dario Marianelli’s distinctly 80s score, to Bumblebee’s own yellow Volkswagen Bug appearance. Though at its core it’s the charming relationship between Stienfield and Bumblebee that’s really the heart of the movie, and Knight rightfully let’s us spend time with both characters together just interacting with Bumblebee’s pet-like persona and Charlie’s strong personality pairing together perfectly.
Fear not though, for fans of Micheal Bay’s more action-oriented movies, Bumblebee stills delivers some stellar set-pieces. Notably it’s opening scene set on a war-torn Cybertron, where we first see the reimagined designs of many classic Transformers characters including the likes of Optimus Prime, Archee and Soundwave just to name a few, who are much closer to their original cartoon appearances than the hulking metal machine designs used in Bay’s original 5 films. And whilst it is short-lived, and likely to leave you wishing to see more, it sets up nicely the possibility of an entirely Cybertron-set movie. Something that will surely delight fans of the franchise, driving them to theatres in droves. And even the Earth-set action pieces are brilliant, Knight ensures that the action is kept in focus and easy to follow, without the reliance of quick camera-cuts and closeups that Bay made use of, delivering a much more cohesive and thrilling action experience.
But it really is in its more intimate, and small-scale moments that Bumblebee truly shines. Knight delivers one of the best blockbusters of last year in Bumblebee that was unfortunately largely overshadowed by the box-office dominance of Aquaman last December. But with the movie now out in the UK on Digital and Home-Media release it’s the perfect time to give this one and chance. It’s delightful, sweet, charming and thrilling in equal doses and will leave both fans and newcomers of the Transformers franchise happy, if craving more.
★ ★ ★ ★