It was evident from the first trailer that Bumblebee would earn the curiosity of filmgoers who normally wouldn’t touch the Transformers movies with a ten-foot pole, and now that the first responses are rolling in, it’s clear that viewers hoping for a change of pace from the exhausting and overbearing spectacle of the Michael Bay films haven’t been misled.
Though Kubo and the Two Strings helmsman Travis Knight is a relative newcomer to live-action cinema, the consensus is that the director performs his duties swimmingly, delivering a heartfelt coming-of-age story that puts this tired franchise back on track:
#BumblebeeMovie is one of the year’s best and most heartfelt blockbusters. Travis Knight expertly directs a coming of age story about a girl and her robot. Impressive visuals, well rounded characters, and G1 greatness. Need to see more from THIS Transformers stat. #Bumblebee pic.twitter.com/dXfS8OhlLF
— Nicholas Whitcomb (@Whos_Nick) December 8, 2018
Early audiences have been particularly full of praise for Bumblebee’s human co-star Hailee Steinfeld, with the young Charlie sounding like a welcome alternative to Bay’s frequently grating cast of characters:
#Bumblebee is the best #Transformers movie and my favorite, too. Hailee Steinfeld elevates every scene she’s in, and the older look of the robots makes it easier to follow and enjoy the action. pic.twitter.com/cAWWQLKfB9
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) December 8, 2018
#Bumblebee is the best Transformers movie – BY FAR. Beautifully shot, tons of spot-on humor and absolutely brimming with heart. No surprise here but Hailee Steinfeld is fantastic. The whole thing is just an utter delight!
— Perri Nemiroff (@PNemiroff) December 8, 2018
Knight’s movie earned E.T. comparisons very early in its promotion, and sure enough, viewers and critics are getting distinct ‘80s vibes from the flick, both in its Spielberg-esque premise and its nostalgic teen drama:
#Bumblebee is TOTALLY an 80s movie in the BEST way possible. Has major Spielberg and John Hughes vibes. There's like 4 running Breakfast Club gags and @HaileeSteinfeld (who is great) spends half the movie trying to make Bumblebee appreciate The Smiths. Holy crap I loved that. pic.twitter.com/ZiyLfO2XOo
— Mike Rougeau (@RogueCheddar) December 8, 2018
The above responses are just a few examples of the acclaim that’s been heading Bumblebee‘s way in these last few days, with the film currently holding a score of 100% of Rotten Tomatoes based on 12 reviews. And while you shouldn’t expect this percentage to stay so high in the coming weeks, it’s plain to see that the movie will have earned a lot more converts by the end of the month.
Though it’s long been understood that the Michael Bay flicks weren’t meant to please critics, the dip in box office returns marked by Transformers: The Last Knight suggested that the future wasn’t looking to bright for the property on a commercial level, either.
In that sense, the lower-budgeted Bumblebee could be a course correction in more ways than one when it hits theaters on December 21st. After that, it’s unclear where the Transformers property goes from here, but maybe Paramount finally has a good reason not to hit the reset button on the series.