written by David Steffen

Bumblebee is a 2018 action science fiction film distributed by Paramount that’s a prequel to the Transformers film series that started with Transformers in 2007.

A war rages between two factions of intelligent shape-changing robots on the mechanical planet of Cybertron. The vicious Decepticons have scattered the remaining Autobots and driven them into hiding. Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), leader of the Autobots sends the Autobot B-127 (Dylan O’Brien) to find a place for a new base. B-127 lands on Earth in 1987 and although hunted there, manages to survive the landing but soon gets into a fight with a Decepticon that leaves him mute and wounded, and he barely manages to turn into a VW Beetle before powering down.

The Autobot is revived by 17-year-old girl Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), who learned mechanic skills from her father before he passed away. Charlie’s family doesn’t have a lot of money and for Charlie that means lack of freedom because she doesn’t have a car, so when a junkyard dealer gives her the broken old Beetle for a birthday present, she sees it as a major opportunity.

Charlie befriends the Autobot and gives him the name “Bumblebee” and teaches him more about life on Earth, especially the importance of keeping his presence there secret. But when she revived Bumblebee, he emitted a transmission that has drawn a pair of Decepticons to investigate, and now Bumblebee is hunted by both the military and by the Decepticons. A neighborhood boy, Memo (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), stumbles upon the secret and Charlie tells him everything, and the three of them fight to keep Bumblebee and Earth safe from the Decepticons who would destroy them all.

Although I was not among those who hated the 2007 Transformers movie, I understand the criticisms of it and the sequels have only gotten worse from there (primarily because of tasteless unfunny jokes and military fetishism) to the point that I’d more or less given up on the movie franchise, at least until the creative minds behind it changed. Bumblebee redeems the series a great deal, making it much more of a character story than its predecessors and making me care about the characters again. The character of Bumblebee has always been a favorite character for me, one of the smaller Transformers and always an underdog and he was the best part of the 2007 movie. I loved that he got his own movie here and I loved the friendship that develops here between Bumblebee and Charlie, especially with Bumblebee as the bumbling newcomer to the planet who doesn’t know how any of this works. The acting is great across the board, and I really cared about Charlie and her grief about her father’s death and abouther quest to get a car to get some more freedom in her life.

I like Bumblebee’s new look, redesigned from the other movies, and they did a great job portraying his emotions through body language since for most of the movie he doesn’t have a voice and his face lacks the articulation to express emotion that other Transformers have.

This was a fun and great movie, a return to the fun and kid-friendly roots that the series had gotten away from. I highly recommend it, and I hope that there are more Transformers movie in the future that are more like this kind of film.

MOVIE REVIEW: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

written by David Steffen

Image result for into the spider verse wikipedia

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a 2018 animated superhero movie from Marvel Studios.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) looks up to Spider-Man even though his policeman father (Brian Tyree Henry) hates him. His uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) takes him to an abandoned subway station to make some graffiti, and he’s bitten by a radioactive spider there. He starts to manifest his spider powers the next day in an embarrassing encounter with the new girl Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld).

While searching for the abandoned subway station again, he stumbles across Spider-Man (Chris Pine) fighting to stop an alternate reality gateway made by Spider-Man’s nemesis Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber) (aka the Kingpin). Not long after Miles meets another Spider-Man (Jake Johnson), and he’s not the only one.

The animation in this movie is gorgeous, capturing the comic book style and feel and using comic book styling for emphasis and fun. The plot is weird and action-packed and full of twists and turns. The writing is superb, the voice-acting is great, the humor is perfect. It’s the first animated Spider-Man feature film, and the first one starring the Miles Morales Spider-Man character.

Highly recommended, watch it, you won’t regret it.