Tag: Toys

Bumblebee a good movie

Bumblebee a good movie

To be completely honest, I’ve never been a huge Transformers fan.

I’ve always liked the franchise, but it wasn’t a line of toys I grew up with. As a result, the recent Michael Bay franchise of films has more or less been my closest connection.

… But even then, I only watched the first two or three. And I would be lying if I said I remembered anything even remotely well past bits of the first movie from over 11 years ago.

So I was hesitant to watch the newest Transformers movie, Bumblebee — in spite of the fact that I knew it was distinctly different from the Michael Bay series. Especially on the insistence of my friend Juan, who is a huge Transformophile.

I suppose I felt a little intimidated about the prospect of going to see this kind of movie with him. Though I’m glad I got over that, because boy did I have far more fun  than I expected to.

Bumblebee is leagues better than any of the Michael Bay Transformers films for a number of reasons: Its character development, dedication to a setting and mood, as well as its visual design.

Disregarding its titular character, Bumblebee is led by Hailee Steinfeld, who apparently had a phenomenal 2018 by showing her prowess in live action here and in animation through Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Steinfeld’s character Charlie is the down-on-her-luck angsty tomboy teenager who finds Bumblebee broken down in a mechanic’s junkyard and becomes his best friend/protector.

It’s a cliché relationship that was essentially the exact same dynamic between Bumblebee and Shia LaBeouf’s character in the 2007 Transformers. It includes all the beats you’d imagine off a story where the girl’s father died and she can’t move on, only to learn the lessons she needs to through saving the world.

However, the clichés don’t bog Bumblebee down at all. If anything, they make the movie better because of how much the filmmakers lean into them.

Steinfeld brings far more chemistry to bonding with Bumblebee than LaBeouf ever did. In one two-hour picture I loved their kind of goofy, mutually beneficial relationship and had no trouble believing she was in the same room as a giant robot.

As hilarious as it was when I realized wrestler John Cena was going to be a prominent antagonist, he wound up pouring so much into the performance that I couldn’t help but love him.

Granted, I honestly couldn’t tell you his character’s actual name because I just saw him as John Cena the whole time. But he was so fun that I didn’t mind.

Another reason Bumblebee succeeded in capturing my heart is because it played itself as an unapologetically cheesy 80s movie. Not only did that give it an identity, but it served as a somewhat clever underlying commentary.

Like the Transformers were literally going back to the time when they were created, both in visual aesthetic and spirit.

After an opening action scene on Cybertron (which, like every action scene, was better choreographed and more visually appealing than any previous Transformers movie), diving into the life of Charlie tells us everything we need to know about Bumblebee‘s world.

Charlie, that angsty teen facing tragedy archetype I mentioned, works at a pierside Hot Dog on a Stick where the full range of 80’s teen comedy cast members appear. The awkward next door neighbor/unrequited lover, the mean high school girls, the jock who takes his shirt off after some awkward hi-jinks.

If it weren’t for the killer robots, you could mistake this movie for something akin to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It crafts great characters and loving relationships in this kind of world very well.

You could probably pull out homages to a dozen different movies, with a scene reminiscent to Iron Giant‘s gentle being vs. weapon dynamic standing out to me.

There’s even a really clever joke in the middle of the movie that stipulates some Transformers may have been involved in the creation of the Internet.

If you like that kind of self-aware humor, you’ll enjoy Bumblebee.

On top of that, Bumblebee‘s more classic toy-like Autobot and Decepticon designs allowed for more flowing, understandable action scenes and empathetic moments than the mechanized madness of Michael Bay’s films.

It sounds like I don’t have too many complaints about Bumblebee — and to be honest, I don’t. Some of my major complaints are nitpicks, like the fact that Transformers spoke English humans could understand and knew our vehicle shapes before coming to Earth.

But those are symptoms of the original source material than they are this movie specifically, and don’t detract from the film.

The movie also plays fast and loose with its setting’s time and place until late into the movie (at least from the perspective of someone who hadn’t seen the Golden Gate Bridge in that promotional poster I used as my Featured Image).

On top of that, every plot beat is borderline eye-rollingly predictable because of how much it leans into common clichés. Though to be fair there are moments where the script takes a high ground and doesn’t lean on obviously foreshadowed deus ex machinas.

Frankly, Bumblebee’s biggest strength is just how fun it is. So much so that even if there are bigger concerns, I’ve completely overlooked them. As exhausted as I was with the overwhelming Michael Bay franchise by its second or third installment, I could watch many more movies using Travis Knight’s formula going forward.

Not only was it great for Transformophiles like Juan, who was giddy seeing at least six named characters he recognized within the first few seconds, it also worked wonders for people like me that simply enjoy well-crafted, goofy 80’s flicks.

There were only about five people in our theatre today so I don’t imagine the film will be out too much longer, but I’d recommend going to see it while you can. It’s definitely a ride worth taking.


Featured Image courtesy of IMDb

Our new Toy Opening channel

Our new Toy Opening channel

After a lovely family lunch at Mama D’s with my grandparents to celebrate my Grandpa Joe’s belated birthday, Alyson made me take her over to Target.

She didn’t need anything. She just wanted to wander aimlessly and kill time.

To be fair I do that sort of thing with my friends constantly, to the point where we covertly call ourselves the ‘Loiter Bois,’ so I couldn’t argue. In fact I was pretty into the idea. Especially considering Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee & Pikachu just came out and I was interested in seeing it on shelves as I start to prepare my holiday wish list.

But then something happened. Idly wandering the video game and toy aisles making fun of things turned into more when she found this rip-off Lego Pokémon toy of one of my favorites:

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Isn’t Mimikyu just the cutest? Who needs Pikachu when you’ve got one of them, huh?

On the one hand, I don’t know why I let her convinced me to buy this thing. I just started cleaning my room up for the Thanksgiving Break, and having another little figurine to take up space seems counterintuitive. Plus, when I say this thing was a Lego rip-off, I mean it is like a real cheap Lego rip-off.

Just look at how weirdly confusing and unintuitive these instructions are.

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Somehow it manages to take a Lego figurine made out of ~20 pieces and not distinctly separate out which pieces are what for big chunks of the instructions. It took some time to figure out which parts went where.

But at the very least I suppose these Mega Construx are similar to Lego in that they have just random extra pieces for no reason.

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Where do you go, random circle piece? I don’t see you anywhere in the instructions.

Granted I did just complain that the instructions were unintuitive so maybe I’m just missing something… But oh well.

On the other hand, despite those points, I really can’t complain about the purchase. It was maybe six dollars for a pseudo-figurine of one of my favorite Pokémon and it came with a Premiere Ball, which is also probably my favorite kind of Poké Ball.

Its creepy long neck might just haunt me in my dreams, but I’ll happily suffer that fate for Mimikyu.

However, I didn’t just buy this fake Lego. I was pretty close to putting it down and not buying anything because it just didn’t seem worth it to get one item. Especially if that one item was a dumb toy like this.

So my sister made up for it by buying another toy while we were there:

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Yeah that’s right, I know you’ve seen these kinds of dumb collectible packs for every popular culture property in existence.

Well we got one to open up for ourselves just for the hell of it. Even though the movie isn’t out yet as of my writing this, so who knows if it’ll be worth supporting fringe toy-based ventures for it.

All I know is it definitely became worth it when we decided to do this jokey, vague toy opening YouTube channel parody just to put here on the old blog.

See? Even though I make fun of her a bunch on here, she’s still more than happy to make herself look stupid alongside me when the time comes.

I guess this is the part where I would tell you all to like, comment and subscribe to my channel like every cliché in the book tells me I should? But honestly I just use that thing as a dumping place for videos that I want to throw up on my blog, as WordPress has kind of terrible compression when videos and such are concerned.

But that’s going way into the weeds for no reason. I just wanted to share the fun, silly thing my sister and I did today.

Hope you like it.