“Bumblebee” (2018) | How Spielberg added heart to a machine

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Yeah, Bumblebee came out months ago (which was a very nice Christmas present, I may add). No, this isn’t a review. This still doesn’t stop me from being obsessed and urging people to go see it. It’s been many moons since a movie pulled my heartstrings enough to get the waterworks going. When the trailer first came out, I was ecstatic. Immediately I went to the comments to find my excitement paralleled by so many others. One comment stuck out to me: “This trailer has more heart than all five Transformers movies combined…” I grew up with the Transformers franchise–my mom used to say I knew the whole script of Shia LaBeouf’s 2007 adaptation–and this movie stood out to me more than the original Transformers saga.  

Despite Bumblebee’s predecessors, Michael Bay only helped produced this movie as a prequel and gave the reigns over to Travis Knight (director of Kubo and the Two Strings) as the director and Spielberg as the executive producer. Yes, Steven Spielberg. The director of cinematic classics, such as The Goonies, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, B.F.G, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, the Indiana Jones series and do I say more? His ability and compassion for telling stories capture moviegoers, which is technically his trademark. He digs deep and tries to make movie topics and characters relatable to whoever may be watching.

It’s a great, character-driven movie about grieving and coping with loss that’s set in 1987. In it, the subject of parental loss emotionally connects Bumblebee with Hailee Steinfeld’s character, Charlie. Albeit, his loss may not be parental, but he’s alone on a new planet and scared. To start, this loss in Charlie’s life stopped her from actively socializing with her family and caused her to refrain from participating in once-loved sports. The only thing she persisted on was fixing up the 1977 Chevy Camaro her and her father once drove (seem familiar? What was Bee at the beginning of Transformers (2007)? All just a subtle hint toward their relationship). It piqued her interest in cars and her mechanical knowledge, which led to her helping Bee with his voice box. (Yes, he’s still talking through a radio, but we at least learn why.) We also learn where Bumblebee acquired his name.

Throughout the movie, he encourages her to get out of her shell, and so she does before retreating in. She overcomes her fear in the end for Bee. Another relationship builder and low-key spoiler but she teaches him how to teepee and egg someone’s house with more fun shenanigans ensuing. Their relationship by the end was heartwarming and it made me jealous. Who knows? Maybe this character development is why Bee was able to develop such a close bond with Sam in the future? This is what gives a movie heart, especially for a machine: the character interactions as they help each other through dark times and battling each other’s demons. Spielberg and Knight knew this and knew it was needed to save the Transformers franchise. 

It helps that the action scenes were also well choreographed, meaning there weren’t random explosives going off–looking at you Michael Bay–making it easy on the viewer to understand what was happening. Honestly, the only thing that miffed me about the movie was John Cena’s acting. Like…Spielberg…we know you like giving chances to underrated actors and newcomers, but I’m sure we could have made an exception.

 

Madison Simmers is a senior studying advertising management and professional writing with a focus in editing and publishing. You can always find her tea in hand and ready to take the day head on. If not, she’s binge-watching YouTube videos or watching Cheers.

 

Tags: bumblebee, charlie, hailee steinfeld, knight, movie, spielberg, steven, transformers, travis