Bumblebee (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byTravis Knight
Produced by
Written byChristina Hodson
Based onTransformers
by Hasbro
Music byDario Marianelli
CinematographyEnrique Chediak
Edited byPaul Rubell
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • December 3, 2018 (2018-12-03) (Sony Center)
  • December 21, 2018 (2018-12-21) (United States)
Running time
114 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$100–137 million[2][3]

Bumblebee is a 2018 American science fiction action film centered around the Transformers character of the same name. It is the sixth installment of the live-action Transformers film series and a prequel to 2007's Transformers. Directed by Travis Knight in his first live action film and written by Christina Hodson, the film stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, and Pamela Adlon, with Dylan O'Brien, Peter Cullen, Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux in voice roles. It is the first live-action Transformers film not to be directed by Michael Bay, though he still acts as a producer. Principal photography on the film began on July 31, 2017, in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

Bumblebee premiered in Berlin on December 3, 2018, and is scheduled for release in the United States on December 21, 2018, in 2D, Real D 3D, Dolby Cinema and IMAX. The film received positive reviews from critics, who praised the action and the performances of Steinfeld, Cena and O'Brien, as well as the 1980s setting and sense of nostalgia, with most calling it the best installment of the Transformers franchise.[4]


On Cybertron, the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, are on the verge of losing their civil war against their enemies, the Decepticons, and begin making preparations to leave the planet. The Decepticons ambush them during the evacuation, and Optimus sends a young scout, B-127, to Earth in order to set up a base of operations where the Autobots can regroup. B-127 reaches Earth alone in 1987, crash-landing in California and disrupting a training exercise being conducted by Sector 7, a secret government agency that monitors extraterrestrial activity on Earth. S7 lieutenant Jack Burns presumes him to be a hostile invader and attacks, driving B-127 into the forest, where he is then ambushed by the Decepticon Blitzwing. When B-127 refuses to disclose Optimus's whereabouts, Blitzwing spitefully tears out his vocal processors and damages his memory core. B-127 manages to destroy Blitzwing before collapsing from his wounds. Before entering stasis, B-127 scans and transforms into a nearby 1967 Volkswagen Beetle.

Charlie Watson, a teenage outcast traumatized by the death of her father and resentful of her mother Sally for remarrying, finds B-127 in his Beetle form in a scrapyard belonging to her friend Hank, who gives it to her as a birthday present, on the condition that Charlie repairs it. In doing so, Charlie accidentally activates a homing signal that is detected out in space by Decepticons Shatter and Dropkick, just as they are in the middle of interrogating the captive Autobot Cliffjumper. After executing Cliffjumper, the pair head to Earth, where they masquerade as peacekeepers to persuade Sector 7 to help them find and capture B-127, whom they claim is a dangerous criminal.

Meanwhile, Charlie revives and befriends the amnesiac B-127, whom she nicknames “Bumblebee”, and teaches him how to communicate through his radio. Together, they unlock a message from Optimus urging Bumblebee to defend Earth in their absence, which restores his memories. Charlie alerts Bumblebee about the importance of staying hidden, but he is later discovered by her neighbor Memo, who agrees to protect their secret due to his feelings for Charlie. Left alone, Bumblebee accidentally destroys Charlie’s living room and causes an energy spike that attracts Sector 7’s attention. Sally blames Charlie for the destruction, and she angrily leaves with Bumblebee and Memo, only to be intercepted by Sector 7, Shatter and Dropkick and knocked unconscious while trying to protect Bumblebee. When returned home, Charlie finally expresses her pain over her father’s death and makes amends with her mother, who decoys so Charlie can follow Burns to a Sector 7 outpost, where Shatter and Dropkick torture Bumblebee into revealing the Autobots’ whereabouts and leave him for dead after revealing their plan to bring the Decepticons to Earth. Charlie revives Bumblebee with one of Sector 7’s high voltage guns, and they set out to prevent Shatter and Dropkick from contacting the Decepticons with a beacon. Burns and his men also attempt to stop them, but Dropkick destroys their helicopter, and Bumblebee saves Burns.

During the fight, Bumblebee kills Dropkick, whereas Charlie deactivates the Decepticon beacon, causing an enraged Shatter to pursue her. Bumblebee causes a flood, crushing Shatter under the rubble, and then being rescued by Charlie. Realizing that he had been wrong about Bumblebee, Burns buys them time to escape before the army arrives. Charlie, realizing that the Bumblebee has a greater purpose on Earth, tearfully parts ways with him. After saying goodbye, Bumblebee scans a 1977 Chevrolet Camaro and drives away, meeting up with a Red Freightliner, while Charlie returns with her family. Optimus informs Bumblebee that his battle is far from over as seven Transformers can be seen coming to Earth.







On February 12, 2016, it was announced that the sixth film in the Transformers series Transformers 6 would be released on June 8, 2018, while later it was revealed that the film would be an untitled spin-off, featuring Bumblebee.[17] On November 11, 2016, Deadline reported that Paramount Pictures was moving forward with the project by revealing that Christina Hodson had written the script for the spin-off, and she was one of the female writers Paramount and Michael Bay hired in the "writers room."[18] On March 2, 2017, Deadline reported that Travis Knight was hired to direct the film.[19] In May 2017, it was revealed that the film's story would be set in the 1980s, and that it would have fewer robots.[20] In the same month, it was announced that it would be titled as Transformers Universe: Bumblebee.[21]


In May 2017, it was reported that Hailee Steinfeld was in talks for the female lead in the film, and she confirmed her involvement later in June.[22][23] On July 11, 2017, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. joined the cast as the male lead.[24] On July 12, 2017, The Tracking Board confirmed that Rachel Crow had been cast in the film.[25] On July 13, 2017, the rest of the core cast of the film was confirmed, including Jason Drucker, Abby Quinn, Ricardo Hoyos and Gracie Dzienny.[26] On July 22, 2017, it was reported that Pamela Adlon had been cast in the film to play Steinfeld's mother.[27] On July 31, 2017, the film added John Cena to its lead cast along with Kenneth Choi and Stephen Schneider in the supporting cast.[28] On October 2, 2017, while interviewing in promotion for the home media release of Transformers: The Last Knight, Peter Cullen revealed he will be in the film.[6] On December 11, 2017, it was rumored that actor Martin Short has joined the film's voice work, although he is not listed in the final credits.[29] On May 31, 2018, Jess Harnell revealed he will be reprising his role as the voice of Barricade from the 2007 film and The Last Knight, but was presumably cut from the film[30] On July 13, 2018, it was announced that Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux would be voicing a pair of new Decepticons respectively called Shatter and Dropkick, who will be the main antagonists of the film.[31] On August 26, 2018, voice actor David Sobolov, who had previously voiced Depthcharge in Beast Wars: Transformers, Brawl in the 2007 video game and Shockwave in Transformers: Prime confirmed he will voice Blitzwing.[32][14] On December 3, 2018, Lorenzo di Bonaventura revealed to IGN that Dylan O'Brien will voice Bumblebee.[5] On December 9, 2018, about a week before the film's release, voice actress Grey Griffin revealed through a special fan screening that she had reprised her role as Arcee from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.[8] On the same day, voice actor and long-time Transformers fan Jon Bailey also revealed that he has voiced both Shockwave and Soundwave in the film, both of which were previously voiced by Frank Welker in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.[16]


Principal photography on the film began on July 31, 2017, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Vallejo, and Mare Island, California, and was scheduled to finish on November 16, 2017, under the working title Brighton Falls. Filming concluded 6 days ahead of schedule on November 10, 2017.[33][28][34][35]

Later, in November 2017, the film was revealed to have changed its title to Bumblebee: The Movie, as well as having wrapped up filming.[36]


Dario Marianelli is set to provide the music score for the film,[37] making this the first time Steve Jablonsky has not scored one of the films in the franchise. Hailee Steinfeld's single "Back to Life" was released from the soundtrack on November 2, 2018.[38]


Visual effects for the film will be provided by Industrial Light & Magic, Cantina Creative, and The Third Floor with Jason Smith and Tony Lupoi serving as the main visual effects supervisors.[39]


Bumblebee is scheduled to be released in the United States on December 21, 2018, by Paramount Pictures, having initially been set for a release on June 8, 2018.[28] The first trailer was released on June 5, 2018.[40] The new trailer was released on September 24, 2018,[41] while its international trailer was released on the same date showing that Bumblebee was formerly disguised into an old Jeep Wrangler before he became a Volkswagen Beetle.[42] The film held its premiere at the Sony Center in Berlin on December 3, 2018.[43]

On November 21, 2018, Paramount announced it would hold one-day previews for the film on Saturday, December 8, 2018, similar to the promotion Amazon Prime and Sony Pictures ran with films like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, and fellow December 2018 release Aquaman.[44]


Box office projections[edit]

In the United States and Canada, Bumblebee will be released alongside Aquaman, Welcome to Marwen, and Second Act, and is projected to gross $20–25 million in its opening weekend, and $35–40 million over its first five days.[3] Prior to its release, the film made about $500,000 at 325 theater from its December 8 screenings, an "impressive" average of $1,500 per venue.[45]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 94% based on 63 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The website's critical consensus read, "Bumblebee proves it's possible to bring fun and a sense of wonder back to a bloated blockbuster franchise -- and sets up its own slate of sequels in the bargain."[46] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 70 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[47]

Caillou Pettis of Starburst Magazine scored the film an 8/10, saying, "Brimming with fun and charming scenes, a compelling story, and a great hero in Hailee Steinfeld, Bumblebee is a joyride of a film. Way more than meets the eye."[48] Liz Shannon Miller of IndieWire gave the film a "B+" and wrote, "...there are many scenes where giant robots fight each other, and in those scenes, you can actually see what's happening. The Autobots and Decepticons toss each other around with slick judo-like moves and blast each other with abandon, and the cinematography and editing hold still long enough to let you enjoy each moment."[49]

Peter Debruge of Variety called the film a "quieter, more character-driven Transformers origin story" and wrote that "Bumblebee is basically the movie that fans of the 1980s animated series wanted all along."[50] Jesse Hassenger of The A.V. Club praised Hailee Steinfeld, saying, "her screen presence is the best thing about Bumblebee". He compared the film to The Iron Giant, but although he found many improvements over other Transformers films, Hassenger called the film "disappointing in the end, because it's still a careless stretch of blockbusting", giving it a "C+".[51]


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