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Review: Bumblebee, or 4 Reasons This Is a Proper Throwback

He's like a cute metal death pet.

I am a child of the 80s. I was born in December 1979, so all my earliest memories were formed during the colourful decade of the 1980s. And like a true 80s boys, the Transformers, those robots in disguise that are more than meets the eye, hold a very special place in my heart.

When the first movie – oh, wait, the first Transformers movie was animated, and it came out in 1986. Let me rephrase that. When the first live-action movie came out in 2007, I was one of those geeky fanboys who almost wet themselves with excitement. Incidentally, the 2007 film is also the very first film reviewed in Da Couch Tomato, so, yeah. I love them Transformers.

However, not everyone found satisfaction in witnessing Michael Bay murder their childhood (an exaggeration, of course, but netizens and hyperbole are such a common pair), which is why the producers decided to give us this sequel reboot spinoff new Transformers flick. Here now are four reasons why Bumblebee is a proper throwback to the true spirit of this beloved franchise.

Classic character design
I’m going to make this short and sweet. How do we know that the filmmakers got the classic character designs right? Because they did. They actually did. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the film’s opening minutes, set during the Battle of Cybertron, identifying the robots as they appeared onscreen and shouting their names out loud. “Soundwave! Shockwave! Arcee!”, pretty much like how I shouted out the names of the characters that made an appearance in Ready Player One.

Peter Cullen
Younger viewers may know Peter Cullen as the voice of Optimus Prime, and nothing else. With older viewers, some may know that he also voiced the lethargic donkey Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, but almost every child who grew up with the Transformers knows that Peter Cullen isn’t just the voice of Optimus Prime – Peter Cullen IS Optimus Prime. His voice is so iconic that all live-action versions of the Transformers franchise featured Cullen as the Autobot leader. The filmmakers may have gotten away with turning Bumblebee into a Camaro, but they would never have gotten away with someone else voicing Prime. It’s Cullen or nothing.

The true test of Transformers geekery lies in the ability to answer this question from the top of your head: Name at least three (3) Triple Changers. (Easy: Astrotrain, Blitzwing, and Springer.) This film features Triple Changers, alright, but Shatter and Dropkick are not part of the 1980s Transformers line. I’m not sure why they chose to debut their Triple Changers with new characters when they could have just chosen any of the six Triple Changers from the old Transformers line. If they were going for all-out nostalgia, they shouldn’t have held back on this one. It’s fine, though. I’m not complaining. Thank you, Travis Knight!

In filmmaking, there are two ways you can set the time period. First is through production design, which takes care of the visual aspect, and this includes costume and wardrobe. Second is through the soundtrack, which takes care of the auditory aspect. Let’s have a quick rundown of a few of the artists on the soundtrack: The Smiths. Bon Jovi. A-ha. Tears for Fears. Duran Duran. I mean, come on. Nothing screams 80s more than Duran Duran. And of course, as a wink to the audience: Stan Bush’s “The Touch”, which was the theme song to the original 1986 Transformers film. See what they did there?

"Who's gonna drive me home tonight?"

Bumblebee. China/USA. 2018.

Original rating: 7.7/10
John Cena: +0.1
Hailee Steinfeld: +0.2
Final rating: 8.0/10


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