Logo for Byte Magazine at Ball State University

‘Bumblebee’ bumbles at having a purpose

by Savanna Keller

The Transformers movies have been around since 2007 and this year Hollywood decided we haven’t had enough and released a new one, making it the seventh of the franchise. Bumblebee is a lukewarm action movie with a so-so plot that seems to serve as a prequel to the other movies.

The movie opens with the Transformers fighting the Decepticons on the Autobots home planet, Cybertron. With the Transformers impending defeat appearing to be mere seconds away, Optimus Prime, leader of the fight against the Decepticons, sends Bumblebee to Earth to establish a safe base for the Transformers to gather back together. Bumblebee travels to Earth with a Decepticon in pursuit. They battle it out in an FBI practice field and Bumblebee destroys the Decepticon, but not before his voice box is ripped from his throat. With his system now rapidly failing, he transforms himself into a Volkswagen Beetle before fading out of consciousness. 

Meet Earth

Image from IMDb

From there we find ourselves in California during the year 1987. The movie then opens with all the stereotypical tropes it can think of. We have a generically rebellious teenager, Charlie, still hung up on her father’s death and mad at her mother for falling in love with someone else, and hating her stereotypically positive but misunderstanding stepfather. Then throw in the annoying little brother to top it all off. Charlie’s little brother gets into her business and rats her out to her parents, like any typical brother. To drive the point home that her family can’t possibly understand her, they buy her a bike helmet on her 18th birthday instead of the desired car.

Then enters Memo, the wimpy, nerdy, boy-next-door that serves as the budding love interest, but is not a very strong, convincing character.  His sole purpose being the adventure tag-along, to add comedic relief to action scenes. Memo is played by Jorge Lendeborg Jr., who was in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Love, Simon. In those movies Lendeborg plays side characters and it is not much different in movie. The only reason Charlie acknowledges him to begin with is because he stumbles in on her secret of her car being a transformer and she agrees to talk and hang out with him, so he will keep her secret.

To keep up with the 80’s flavor in the movie, John Cena plays Agent Burns, the main leader of the military hunting down bumblebee. He is the gruff, brawny military man who adorns a scar on his face and instantly wants to destroy all the Autobots. He is yet another stereotype thrown into the movie.


Image from IMDb

Charlie, who is played by Hailee Steinfeld, makes it quite clear all she wants is a car. As a mechanic, she visits a junkyard frequently. There she stumbles upon a beetle which, as anyone who has seen the trailer can guess, just happens to be Bumblebee in disguise. After getting the car going, she drives him home to her garage. For most of the movie, Bumblebee is the scared, unknowing robot with mysterious transforming powers, that Charlie sees as a sort of pet. He takes form of a car the whole movie and doesn’t remember who he is or where he came from. Since he can’t remember, he accidently sends a signal out into the universe, tipping the Decepticons off to where he is located and bringing them to Earth. 

Bumblebee has been voiced by many different people throughout the years, in this movie he is voiced by Dylan O’Brien. Dylan O’Brien is known for his role in the Maze Runner movies. Bumblebee is unable to talk throughout much of the movie due to losing his voice box and only gains it back when he can teach himself to talk through his car radio which means O’Brien didn’t have to do much for this movie. Bumblebee does have a plot but the plot doesn’t seem to provide any point as to why this movie was made and nor does it provide any explanation on what it is supposed to bring to the other already existing movies.  

Transformers: The story before the fight

Image from IMDb

Bumblebee has a simple plot and it does its job as an action movie, but as a prequel to a long-time existing film series it is lacking. Anyone that has seen the previous movies may enjoy the nostalgia it is sure to bring with the 80’s throwback, but it leaves one wondering what the point of this movie was. This movie does nothing to provide more insight into why the Autobots are fighting Decepticons or show how it all started. While it does take place before the first movie, its main purpose is to show Bumblebee’s experience on Earth and his transformation into remembering himself as a warrior after forgetting everything.  It is basically one hour and 53 minutes of Bumblebee forming a relationship with a girl who is not important to the rest of the movies, and then remembering his mission right before the movie ends.

The action scenes are what keeps the movie afloat and keep people watching. The action scenes are well done, including the ever-expected shooting, car chases, explosions, and excess of action. The visuals of this movie are done in a way that makes the experience life-like. The Autobots are very detailed and watching them change from robot to vehicle is mesmerizing and never really gets old. You can tell a lot of time was spent on the CGI in this movie and it really paid off. The Transformers mesh well with the real-world scenes of the movie.

Images: IMDb

Featured Image: IMDb