I am not much of a fan of the "Transformers" franchise, so I can't say I was super looking forward to this movie. The robot mayhem from Michael Bay's films has always been a bit too much for me and I was worried "Bumblebee" would be more of the same.
I'm glad I went in with an open mind, however, because "Bumblebee" is the biggest surprise this Christmas movie season.
Here are some of the reasons "Bumblebee" is the best "Transformers" movie to date by a long shot:
The writer and director of this film have brought fresh perspectives to the "Transformers" franchise and to the robot-action genre with their take on "Bumblebee."
Writer Christina Hodson has crafted a script filled with humor, heart and character development. Director Travis Knight has created a well-paced film mixing just the right amount of jokes and emotion, and an aesthetic that engrosses you in the 1987 setting. The tone of the film is spot on and transports us to a time not long ago and makes us all feel like this is an adventure any of us could have taken.
Hodson's only writing credits include "Shut In" and "Unforgettable," so it's impressive that she managed such a great script this early in her career. But we'll be hearing a lot more of her as she is set to write the upcoming "Batgirl" movie as well as "Birds of Prey."
Knight isn't exactly a seasoned director either and this is his first foray into live action filmmaking. His only other directing credit is the stop-motion "Kubo and the Two Strings," which makes it even more impressive that his sophomore effort and first live-action film is done so well.
Both Hodson and Knight have brought fresh perspectives to "Bumblebee" and it made for an entertaining and fun film.
"Bumblebee" decided to take the franchise in another direction and decided to focus on the story instead of the action, and it worked to the film's benefit.
It wasn't until about two-thirds into the movie that I realized there had only been two or three robot fight scenes and it made the movie that much better.
The relationship between Bumblebee and Hailee Steinfeld's Charlie Watson is the core of the movie and it makes for characters we actually care about and relationships we become attached to. This should be credited to Steinfeld's acting, Hodson's writing and Knight's directing.
John Cena is also becoming more and more like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, which means it's getting harder not to like him. He moves further down that endearing road in his role here. All of the acting, for the most part, is pretty solid and it makes for an intriguing story.
There are some things in the movie that don't move the story forward too much, and some of those elements get abandoned, but those little hiccups didn't do enough to ruin the movie. The good outweighs the bad here.
Who would have known that the secret to a good "Transformers" movie was more story and less robot chaos?
Steven Spielberg has acted as producer on all of the Transformers films and has done so again here.
I can't say how involved Spielberg was in the actual shooting, editing and overall production of "Bumblebee," but his signature touch seems to be all over it. The 1980's backdrop, the coming-of-age teenager and the visitor from another world just screamed Spielberg and it makes for a nostalgic and fun ride.
In a sense "Bumblebee" is almost the robot version of "E.T.," and it somehow works. Again, I have no idea how involved Spielberg was in the film, but I wouldn't be surprised if he acted as a mentor to Knight during production.
If you love Spielberg's movies from the late 1970s and '80s then you'll likely enjoy "Bumblebee."
"Bumblebee" isn't the best movie of the year, and I don't think it will make my top five of 2018 or maybe even top 10, but it's done well enough to make it worth a trip to the theater.
Check KSL.com later this week for Dave Clyde's parents content review of the film.
"Bumblebee" is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence.