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Bumblebee film review

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Will you want to swat or savour the sixth Transformers instalment, Bumblebee?

Bumblebee heralds a fresh start for the Transformers franchise. Gone is Michael ‘Explosion Ad Nauseam’ Bay as director and in is Travis Knight, more known for his cute work on animations such as Coraline and The Boxtrolls than action films. While lessons in temporality and audience attention span appear to have been learned from the five previous films. Bumblebee hovers in at just under two hours, the shortest in the franchise by a good and welcome thirty minutes.

The film is set in 1987 California and serves as both a prequel and origin story. Bumblebee has escaped Cybertron after the Decepticons have destroyed it. His mission is to make a base on Earth until Optimus Prime and the other Transformers can follow. But a couple of Decepticons have discovered his whereabouts and are intent on hunting him down.

80s galore

Enter newcomer Haile Steinfeld as Charlie, a sulky tomboy teen who loves fixing cars and winds up owing VW Beetle, which is in fact Bumblebee. WWE’s John Cena also stars as Agent Burns, part of the Sector 7 government agency duped by the Decepticons into helping them seek and destroy Bumblebee. While the two main stars share little screen time together, it introduces and sets them up well for any future films. Cena’s character in particular feels as if its just being lightly tested.

A lot a dads taking their kids to see this will be children of the 80s themselves. They’ll undoubtedly taken by the amped-up 80s soundtrack (tick off The Smiths, Bon Jovi and Tears For Fears for starters) and retro rub of the film. The action scenes are a scratch or two down from Bay’s but it pays off big time in a sci-fi treat this festive season for both young and old.

Bumblebee (PG) has previews on 15th, 16th and 20th December. It’s in UK cinemas from 24th December.