Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How Bumblebee Differs from the Transformers Hive

Written by Shiggins

More than meets the eye?

So I finally saw Bumblebee, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. While it isn't the greatest film of the year or anything, and it is clearly influenced by Brad Bird's fantastic The Iron Giant, Bumblebee is charming, cute and has some decent action scenes. It's only when I got home and gave it some real thought did I actually realise how much there is to talk about with this film, at least in regards to the franchise it is technically connected to.

Note: This isn't a review, because I felt it was more interesting to discuss what the film does and what it could mean for Transformers, rather than focus on the film alone. There will be minor spoilers ahead.

"Lay low, and wait for all this to blow over."
The Transformers franchise has an infamous reputation amongst moviegoers, often seen as the definitive example of what happens when Michael Bay is given full control of a project. And while I don't hate Michael Bay as a director, there is definitely a point to be made that this franchise uses "too much Bay". That's only further proven by Bumblebee, the first movie in the Transformers series to not be directed by Michael Bay, and clearly had his minimal involvement. In fact, I think the only reason he is given a producer credit is because of his connection to the franchise, and there are quite a few ways Bumblebee proves that possibility right.


In all five Bay movies, the Autobots and Decepticons are fighting over some sort of item/artefact/device that has never been in the plot before, but is the most important thing imaginable for the next two and a half hours of viewing. We started with the AllSpark, then it was the Matrix of Leadership, then "the Pillars". Then "the Seed". Then a talisman. Five films, five things, and while I am aware that most, if not all of them come from the source materials, it doesn't change the fact they exist to make every film have a McGuffin every single time. So every plot has the same elements to it, with chasing the item until the climax.

It looks like the Tesseract lost its mojo.
Bumblebee doesn't have any of that.

No, the plot is about Bumblebee connecting to human protagonist Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) and hiding out on Earth while two Decepticons try to find him so they can know where the leader Optimus Prime is. Instead of trying to make us care about random thingamabob called a "seed", which gets more disturbing the more you say it, Bumblebee focuses on characters and makes their connection strong enough to keep us entertained.

There's nothing inherently wrong with a McGuffin. There is something wrong with five McGuffins. There is a lot wrong with calling one of your McGuffins a seed, and making Megatron say he wants to explode his seed in a city.

Less Bots

In the first Transformers film, we were given 5 Autobots and 8 Decepticons, not all of which could speak. That was fine, but Transformers is a series that has lasted since 1984, and that means there are countless characters. And that means the franchise has shot them at the audience rapidly, with each entry having more and more and more, to the point of ridiculousness. With almost no explanation, Transformers just arrive in Earth between movies to do very little but fight each other. Arcee, Hot Rod, Soundwave, Shockwave, Hound and so many more.

Oh no, not Pink-Arcee! She was so memorable that we didn't even realise this was her dying until we saw the third film!
The advantage of this being a prequel is that it had a chance to shorten the cast, and it took it! Bumblebee, Dropkick, Shatter, and a few brief appearances from some fan-favourites. It keeps the focus strong, the stakes high, and the battles tense. Bumblebee and Charlie have to depend on themselves, knowing there's no bullcrap army of fodder to take the hits for them or be easily dispatched by them. And it means Dropkick and Shatter need to have enough personality to make themselves interesting, instead of just sending out a group of shiny tin cans or black aliens or whatever the next army is going to be in 2019.

Simplified Designs

Can we all agree that these Transformers are impressive? When Optimus first transformed in 2007, I was in awe! You could see every part, every pipe and piece of metal folding around into the form of an iconic robot character! I can't imagine the hours and complications of designing these beasts... but that has been their downfall.

You see, Michael Bay loves rapid editing, zooming in, never holding the camera still. If done right, this can be great. If done with giant layered robots wrestling against each other, it becomes a chaotic mess, making it hard to tell where Optimus begins and Bonecrusher ends. There have been far too many times in this series where we don't know what's going on, and that's not the only problem.

What a difference a day/director makes.
Bumblebee feels like they've reached a middle ground between G1 and Bay designs. The titular robot is nowhere near as ugly as he usually is, but he's still impressive, and the transforming is halfway fun now. To make things even better, they gave him a fitting voice that I almost wish could have been in the entire film, but it actually makes sense for the plot why he loses his voice. It's not just a gimmick.


Jazz: "What's crackin', little bitches? This looks like a cool place to kick it"

Skids: "Hey, Mudflap, what are we gonna do with this shrimp taco?"
Mudflap: "Let's pop a cap in his ass, throw him in the trunk and then nobody gonna know nothing, know what I mean?"

None of that is in Bumblebee. The most we get is a slightly typical Texan man at one point, and that's it. Thank God.

I'm actually appreciating Jar Jar Binks right now, at least compared to this thing.

Michael Baycrap

I don't hate Michael Bay, but I can see why others do. He has a history of just letting in stupid shit, and you can see signs of it in every film of his. And frankly, it is absolutely annoying at this stage.

Remember the tons of foreigners that looked to Americans like Gods in Pearl Harbour?

Or that scene where Will Smith and Martin Lawrence point a gun at an innocent teenager in Bad Boys 2?

Every day, we stray further from God's light.
Parents asking Sam about masturbating, Prime heaven, a ripoff of James Bond's Q, Deep Wang, a bloodthirsty Optimus... Honestly, I could go on but you get the gist.

Bumblebee has a minimal amount of stupid. The parents get a bit too awkward and cringy sometimes but the rest is solid and understandable. People act in-character, and don't take pot brownies which cause them to tackle strangers for some reason... God, I forgot how stupid these movies could get before I wrote this article.

"Sex with Minors"

There is no scene I hate more in this entire franchise, and possibly in all movie franchises, than the one where Mark Wahlberg has to stop the movie so he can talk to his daughter's boyfriend about having sex with a minor, his own daughter, and how the boyfriend uses literal laws to explain why he's allowed to. It's creepy, it's stupid, it's disturbing to think about who wanted this movie based on a kid's toy line to have a scene justifying what this boyfriend is doing, and I hate it. It makes me want to throw up. Whoever wrote this particular scene needs investigated, because they have a messed-up message they want to give us. I mean, seriously? A film about fighting robots needs to talk about this crap? NO! No it does not!

HE LAMINATED IT! He went to the effort of laminating it, as if he's planning on keeping it for a long time and showing it to people whenever he wants! "I'm not a creeper. This card gives me permission to shag this person."
Bumblebee is for all ages and is suitable for kids. What a shocker, that a film based on a toy line is for kids, but it's true!

If it were up to me, Bumblebee would be where this franchise rebooted itself. Nobody cares about the continuity anyway, at least the writers definitely don't by this stage. (How did Starscream's head come back in 5 when it literally exploded into pieces two movies ago?). Paramount have an opportunity to give everyone a franchise that can be enjoyed by all, rather than a few sick perverts who want to be told about the "Romeo and Juliet laws" or whatever to justify themselves.

Call the next film "Optimus", and have it be about him arriving to Earth as he remembers the events on Cybertron. Or maybe a movie called "Megatron", and how he turned into the psycho we all know and love to hate. "Starscream" or "Hot Rod" or even "Cybertron". The opportunities are there! Do it right and you can create a great finisher, call it "Unicron" and you might actually get positive reviews for once!

Why does this Transformer look like a human, when she's the one robot that hasn't been on Earth? Ooooh, it's because we need to know she's a lady robot!
Am I hoping for too much? Absolutely. The next film will be called "Transformers; Scar of the Flag" and will have a gorgeous naked woman explain why teachers should be allowed to shag their students, and it will still make a billion dollars no matter what the reviews say. Honestly, I just want to believe there is hope. And Bumblebee is the closest I've gotten to hoping for Transformers in the past ten years.

Readers, roll out!

Don't leave me, hope. I don't want to lose you...
Shiggins:[Admin]   .
Born under the stars of the Dark Gods, Shiggins owns the power of the Great Eye and is utterly magnificent in his omniscience. If you dare to discover more about someone as great as him, then go ahead. And to all my friends and family members, YOU are wrong and I should be disappointed! Not the other way round!,. You can find out about him or ask him stuff on ask.fm/shigginsishere or go to his tumblr page http://otakugajeel.tumblr.com/

No comments:

Post a Comment