Wednesday, January 16, 2019     Volume: 19, Issue: 45
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
A DOG’S WAY HOME
AQUAMAN
BUMBLEBEE
ESCAPE ROOM
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
HELLRAISER:JUDGEMENT
MARY POPPINS RETURNS
MORTAL ENGINES
SECOND ACT
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
THE MULE

BUMBLEBEE

PHOTO BY PARAMOUNT PICTURES

BUMBLEBEE


Where is it playing?: Hi-Way Drive-In, Movies Lompoc

What's it rated?: PG-13

What's it worth?: $Matinee

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

    Director Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) helms this Transformers prequel that follows Bumblebee on the run from Decepticons in 1987. After a deadly brawl, the damaged Autobot becomes dormant in a junkyard in a Californian beach town, disguised as a VW Beetle. He’s soon discovered by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen, True Grit), an 18-year-old outsider determined to fix him up and help defend against further attacks. Meanwhile, two Decepticon assassins are already on their way to earth to destroy the planet and Bumblebee once and for all.
    The best thing about Bumblebee, compared to other entries in the Transformers series, is how small scale the story is. Sure, the fate of the world is at stake as always, but the narrative itself still feels extremely intimate. That’s largely due to Steinfeld’s character, who I wish was the audiences’ only eyes in. The film should have been completely from her point of view. In my opinion, it would have been much more intriguing to see the events unfold through her eyes rather than jumping back and forth from her to the military. I don’t mind a little expositional dialogue here and there, but must the discussion take place in an indiscriminate military control room like every other alien invasion movie?
    John Cena’s character, Agent Burns, is engaging and delivers some of the funniest lines in the movie. But at the end of the day, his side of the story is pretty unnecessary. We already have the Decepticons hunting Bumblebee down, we don’t need to see earthling helicopters and tanks following suit. Were the filmmakers afraid there wouldn’t be enough action scenes without military intervention? Well it certainly isn’t the case here, and I doubt it would have been had the Decepticons been our only antagonists. Call me old-fashioned, but giant robots duking it out and destroying public property in the process is all the action I need.
    It’s really Charlie’s world and the characters she interacts with that give Bumblebee a boost over previous Transformers movies. Steinfeld is just as candid, vulnerable, and likeable as she was in The Edge of Seventeen. Her relationship with Bumblebee, which starts out as a great homage to Stephen King’s Christine with her fixing him up, is reminiscent of Elliott and E.T. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ’80s callbacks laced throughout the film. The soundtrack, sprawling with Tears For Fears, A-ha, and The Smiths, is especially well integrated, and that’s extremely important when your titular character communicates solely through song lyrics. (114 min.)
—Caleb Wiseblood




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