I grew up with the transformers. Every Christmas, I asked for one growing up. My dad had to remove me from the theater as I bawled my eyes out when Optimus Prime died in the 1986 animated movie. It is no secret that I hate the new movies, They are junk; filled with bad writing, garbage storytelling, soulless directing, and incomprehensibly get worse with each installment. Each new flick comes with some actor or producer touting the same lies, “This one is better… this one means something… this one…” All lies.
Then, I saw the Bumblebee Trailer.
I sat, slack jawed in the theater, my brain unable to comprehend a simple notion, the data wasn’t processing correctly. Did I… Did I like this trailer?
I had to watch it again. And again. And by God, again! Yes, I did. This teaser feels different. The fact that it “feels” at all is different. It plays with emotions instead of explosions. The entirety of the films seems small, intimate, and personal. No massive overhead shot of indefinable destruction. Instead, that shot was replaced with a scared robot holding his legs in the corner, like a child. A hand holding a robot’s face. This felt more Iron Giant or ET than…well, than a transformers movie.
Sure, there were things that tugged at my eyeballs, like John Cena and that Starscream Jet that, sadly, isn’t Starscream. But the tone and mood are what have me worried. Worried that I WANT to see this film. I don’t want to be disappointed, but dear god… I WANT to see a Transformers movie again! This is hope growing in my chest… Hope for a Transformers movie?! I must be crazy!
I dug deeper, the official synopsis reads, “On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.” There are no Earth shattering villainous plans to stop mentioned. The focus is on defining two people; Bumblebee and Charlie. Simple and quite elegant.
This can’t be, this has to be a trick, a false bottom ready to pull away and trap me again with large battles where I can’t tell anything that is happening and on-screen nonsense to make my nose bleed with things that get bigger and bigger with no reason or rhyme.
The final nail in the coffin came with the name Travis Knight; a name that holds some weight in my mind and heart. Kubo and the Two Strings, ParaNorman, and Coraline are staples in my house. Each member of my family have one of those movies at the top of their favorites list. His movies and animations set themselves apart as works of art in story and style. This HAS to be a joke, right?! Why would Travis Knight agree to a Transformers movie?!
The shot of Hailee Steinfeld as Bumblebee transforms around her says it all to me. It’s not some fast and slick sequence, rather it’s slow, her eyes wide in awe and fear, as the pieces of Bumblebee shift and change around her slowly. Each part moving in a rhythmic pace as to show s\us what they do, where they are going, and allowing us to follow along… inviting us in.
So, where do we go from here? Do we trust Bumblebee? CAN we trust Bumblebee? Can we learn to love a Transformers movie after being hurt so many times before? Do we turn our heads and say “No, enough is enough”… or do we give this franchise one last chance to do right by our collective childhoods?
I say, yes.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more” – On December 21st, when Bumblebee opens.