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Review: Bumblebee – “An absolute delight”

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As origin stories go, there’s a lot to love about Bumblebee, from the 80s soundtrack and general nostalgia (oh how I’ve missed you, cassette tapes) to the Transformer action and heartfelt emotion.

In Travis Knight’s film, Hailee Steinfeld plays Charlie, an angry and frustrated teenager struggling to cope with the loss of her father, the demands of her family and a desperate need for independence. She’s great with cars, having been taught this skill by her dad, so when she stumbles across an old Beetle and manages to get it working, she’s delighted with it – that is, until it turns into a giant alien in her garage.

Christina Hodson’s screenplay is superbly written, switching seamlessly between action, drama and fun. There are plenty of big dramatic action sequences, heartfelt one-on-ones, great one-liners and silliness and just enough family drama to bring it all together. The effects are incredible and there are some stunning cinematic shots that are sure to delight Transformers fans young and old. It feels both like a throwback to the Transformers of old and something new and exciting, all at once.

At the centre, Charlie’s character is well developed and marvellously realised by Steinfeld. She’s layered and interesting, kind and dismissive, confused and incredibly smart. And when she is thrown together with Bumblebee, their story of friendship and loyalty is a beautifully compelling one to watch unfold. They need each other and it seems early on that they will become better for having known each other, too.

The supporting cast also do brilliant work. John Cena’s Agent Burns is deliciously deadpan, delivering cheesy lines like ‘There’s a door in my way’ with superbly dry comedic skill. Angela Bassett’s voice work for Shatter proves she is the actual queen of 2018 cinema and Jorge Lendeborg Jr.’s Memo makes a great sidekick for Charlie. He’s occasionally brave and often scared and winging it and his scenes with Steinfeld and Bumblebee are a real treat.

The film, of course, belongs to Bumblebee. This version of the character is fierce when necessary, warm and adorable when possible and, shock horror, actually speaks (for a bit, anyway!).

Bumblebee is an absolute delight. It’s full of action and humour and has real heart at its core. It’s cheeky and sweet and totally badass.

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