'Bumblebee' Synopsis: On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.
'Bumblebee' works because the film focuses more on emotion than on action. Sure, there is action here and there as it has to be, it's a Transformers movie after all, but what is served here, intelligently, is a story offering soul. The relationship of Bumblebee and Charlie, is the film's heart. I liked the way their relationship is built up and how the emotional connect works. It comes across as genuine, rather than manipulative. And that's where 'Bumblebee' scores, it's more about love and bond, rather than just mindless action.
Of course, there are flaws. The biggest one being that this is a familiar story and the beats are predictable. And the entire E.T. vibe is hard ignore. But again these are manageable flaws, in an otherwise charming film.
Christina Hodson's Screenplay is well-done. And it seems the Writer has been influenced hugely by the prolific John Hughes, since her story has flashes of the late/great genius's craft. Travis Knight's Direction is perfect. Cinematography, Editing, Art and Costume Design, are quite good. Graphics, as expected, are excellent.
Performance-Wise: Hailee Steinfeld shines as Charlie. She plays the protagonist and her performance is completely likable. John Cena, in a role with grey shades, clearly has a ball. Jorge Lendeborg Jr. is cute. Pamela Adlon is superb as Charlie's mother. Of the vocal performances, Dylan O'Brien as the voice of B-127 / Bumblebee, Peter Cullen as the voice of Optimus Prime, Angela Bassett as the voice of Shatter and Justin Theroux as the voice of Dropkick, are pretty solid.
On the whole, 'Bumblebee' is a charming film that brings back the Transformers franchise into the game.