Su­perb pre­quel will leave you buzzing

Stirling Observer - - REVIEWS -

De­spite gob­bling up bil­lions at the box of­fice, the Trans­form­ers fran­chise was al­ready on shaky ground be­fore 2017’s aw­ful The Last Knight did its best to turn off cin­ema­go­ers once and for all.

Ahead of that turkey’s re­lease, though, plans were an­nounced to ex­pand the Trans­form­ers uni­verse in a se­ries of spin-offs.

For this first ad­di­tion to the main fran­chise it’s a trip back to 1987 for pre­quel Bum­ble­bee, telling the story of how the Au­to­bot ended up on Earth.

Any fears that ex­tend­ing the Trans­form­ers uni­verse would prove to be a colos­sal er­ror are put to bed — for now at least — as this bright, breezy lit­tle ad­ven­ture rates as the se­ries’ best flick yet.

That’s in no small part to Christina Hod­son’s sim­ple script that’s a world away from the head­spin­ning de­vel­op­ments of the pre­vi­ous two movies.

Lift­ing el­e­ments from the likes of The Iron Gi­ant and Short Cir­cuit, it’s ter­rific fun, with Hod­son also pen­ning a be­liev­able teenage hero­ine in Hailee Steinfeld’s Char­lie.

Steinfeld is the fran­chise’s finest hu­man lead thus far and shares mem­o­rable chem­istry with the tit­u­lar Au­to­bot, in dif­fer­ent ways they are both out­siders who have had close fam­ily mem­bers taken away from them.

Kubo and the Two Strings di­rec­tor Travis Knight does a top job with his first live-ac­tion film, hon­our­ing Trans­form­ers fans with an nos­tal­gic, old-school Bum­ble­bee and Op­ti­mus Prime and re­ward­ing au­di­ences with a brighter colour pal­ette, and un­like in pre­vi­ous se­ries en­tries, it’s al­ways clear who is fight­ing who.

The eight­ies setting was an in­spired choice as it dif­fer­en­ti­ates Bum­ble­bee from its pre­de­ces­sors; the rock-fuelled sound­track is bril­liant.

John Cena’s square-jawed Agent Burns is a generic pres­ence who adds lit­tle but it’s nice just to touch upon mi­nor quib­bles in a Trans­form­ers flick that of­fers hope to the fran­chise’s fu­ture. This heart-pound­ing thriller is packed with shock­ing twists, un­bear­able ten­sion and a ca­reer-best turn from John Cho.

A clever script pulls the rug out from un­der your feet.

Best matesThe lead duo are a treat to­gether

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