Bumblebee is set to take the Transformers franchise back to its ’80s roots
We’re not sure if this Transformers prequel will have a post-credits sting. If it does, just put lots of baking soda on it.
HONEY IS MONEY. That’s the philosophy Paramount is banking on, anyway, with its first Transformers spin-off movie, which follows not Optimus Prime, nor Ironhide, but their Autobot compadre, Bumblebee. The yellow-and-black robot, previously seen in the live-action series as a 1977 Chevrolet Camaro but retooled for his ’80s-set solo mission as a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, isn’t the most heroic Transformer. He’s very possibly the clumsiest. And he is only capable of speaking through radio clips. But the filmmakers are convinced he will win our hearts.
“What’s really fun about Bee is his childlike curiosity,” says producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. “A giant chunk of our movie is about his relationship with Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), and as it goes on he makes a total mess of her house. He’s intrigued by her dog. And it’s funny to watch her turn him onto ’80s culture.” One scene sees Bumblebee listen to — and spit out — a Rick Astley cassette tape, while in another he manages to break a sofa, by sitting on it. “Transformers and furniture,” notes di Bonaventura, “don’t necessarily mix.”
Directed by Laika veteran Travis Knight, it is, the producer promises, a very different kind of Transformers movie — less a crunching war movie than a sweetnatured, soulful rite-of-passage. Think Uncle Buck, perhaps, but with a metal John Candy. Hence the change of design: “The idea of getting into the emotional vulnerabilities of Bee seemed to be more reflective, frankly, with a VW bug than a Camaro. And I think there’s a real nostalgia around that vehicle anyway. There was some fear about how fans were going to receive it, but the reaction to the trailer made us feel we’re making the right choice.”
Laughs, action, nostalgia and Rick Astley? We’re about ready to bug out.
BUMBLEBEE IS IN CINEMAS FROM 26 DECEMBER