Entertainment » Movies


by JC Alvarez
Friday Dec 21, 2018

This VW classic is more than meets the eye!

For over a decade now, Michael Bay has staked his claim on the "Transformers" films franchise. Based on the super-popular '80s toy brand owned by Hasbro, the director realized every fanboy's dream by bringing to life the premise of a galactic civil war that has been waging across light years between the forces of good and evil — a war launched on a faraway world inhabited by a race of sentient, highly-evolved robots.

Led by Optimus Prime, the good-natured Autobots have no other choice but to flee their planet, Cybertron which is falling under the powerfully oppressive gauntlet of the evil Decepticons and their tyrant leader Megatron. Without any warning, the "Transformers" five films later has emerged a phenomenon, and though Bay has remained at the center of the cinematic universe, the bombastic filmmaker has somewhat loosened his reigns and allowed a new kid on the block, director Travis Knight, to helm the franchise spin-off "Bumblebee."

Every successful film franchise deserves a good shake-up, especially one that has proven itself with such a lucrative run at the box office. With "Bumblebee," Bay (still on board producing) and Knight have singled out one of the more popular "Transformers" and revealed the origin story of the plucky yellow scout named Bumblebee that arrives on Earth, evading capture as the deadly Decepticons close in. Optimus Prime is planning his final offensive against their enemies when he orders B-127 (Bumblebee's military designation) to Earth to establish a safe haven.

But B-127 is attacked by an enemy robot named Blitzwing (fans of the '80s toy line will be very familiar with the "triple-changing" Decepticon) who causes our hero serious damage to his voice box and his memory, affecting the robot's ability to communicate and properly complete his mission. In order to save his power and properly heal himself, B-127 hides in plain site as a yellow Volkswagen Bug. It's 1987 and Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) uncovers the unassuming VW Bug abandoned amidst some junk. She decides to take it home and repair it.

...and then the adventure begins! If you're a fan who has followed the previous iterations of the franchise, then you know what to expect. "Bumblebee" is the exception, though, in that it is particularly charming, having paired the most popular of the Autobot heroes with the charismatic presence of the film's non-CGI star, Steinfeld. Knight has even more cleverly enticed the audience by appealing to our nostalgic side and dropping the action in the late '80s (fittingly around the time that the Transformers toy line was invading the pop culture conscious).

John Cena chews the screen as the military leader who is caught between the Transformers, until he sees the light and realizes that Charlie and Bumblebee are the good guys. Of its predecessors, "Bumblebee" stands out, given the emotional resonance and connection that the titular character reveals in Charlie, though even under the direction of Travis Knight, this installment is just as big, just as loud, and just as explosive as the earlier films in the franchise — everything that you'd want it to be. "Bumblebee" may appeal to the most diehard fan, while heralding in a new audience for a new generation.

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".

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