* * C
Bumblebee, a prequel to the Michael Bay Transformers movies, is highly overrated. It scores a 92% fresh rating with critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Even the audiance gave it 75%, though IMDB’s rating is a more reasonable 68%. I give it a mere “OK” rating.
The film starts off with the Autobot’s origin story, which is flashy. Bumblebee is sent to prepare the Earth as a sanctuary for the Autobots. On arrival, he battles a Decepticon, losing his power to speak in the process. Seeing a VW beetle, he transforms into it before running out of power.
Years later, Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) finds him in her uncle’s junkyard (how did he get there?) and is somehow able to start him and drive him home (do Autobot’s have an ignition switch? Why would they?). He reveals his true form and they become friends.
Bumblebee’s reactivation is detected by the Decepticons, who team up with John Cena to find him. Meanwhile, Charlie and her dorky neighbour Memo (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) embark on a John Hughes style side plot to punish the resident mean girl.
In the final act, the Decepticons come after bumblebee, while simulataneously revealing their plan to summon an army to wipe out humanity, leading John Cena to team up with Bumblebee and Charlie to stop them.
While not terrible, the film was a mediocre retread of the original (and only good) Transformers film. Cena won’t win any awards, though I did find Steinfeld endearing. The character of Memo was a bland and useless side kick, and Charlie’s mother was an annoying example of the same “stupid parents” trope used in the original film.