Article: Ten Takeaways from the first "Bumblebee" Trailer
Ten Takeaways from the first "Bumblebee" Movie Trailer
Earlier today a the first trailer and poster for the "Bumblebee" Movie debuted. Check out my top ten takeaways and analysis below!
The trailer opens with a voice over of Bobby Bolivia, the car salesman from the first Transformers love action film played by Bernie Mac. The line literally echoes and reminds us that this film franchise has come a long way. While the original film was spoken of by Steven Spielberg as the story of a "boy and his car", the films became increasingly more complex as the years went along to the point where many people agree "The Last Knight" could have easily been three different films. Using this voice over takes us back to that simpler time which is punctuated by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) finding Bumblebee in what looks like a junkyard. These echoes of the past are most welcome by fans who may feel the films have lost of some of the "heart" from the first film.
"Bumblebee" is set in 1987, which is a very conscious choice. In many respects "Bumblebee" is a "back to basics" film, featuring less Transformers characters than recent installments with a promise of a more character-focused story. Going back in time (rather than having this be a sequel) is a recognition of this, but it is also a tip of the hat to the age the Transformers brand first rose to prominence. Many elements of this trailer recall elements of 80's films such as "E.T." and a quick shot of a wood paneled station wagon helps drive that home. This feels like an appeal to the first generation of Transformers fans to recognize that this film understands some of what they want from a live action Transformers film.
Robot in Disguise
The first live action Transformers film drove home the point that Bumblebee was no ordinary car, and this trailer does a wonderful job of reminding us of that point. While Charlie seems to have just found an old VW Beetle, a look underneath reveals Bumblebee's face. This is also a fun nod to the Transformers toys themselves, which often wind up with the robot head tucked away somewhere under the vehicle mode.
A More Classic Aesthetic
Perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of the live action Transformers films have been the aesthetics of the characters. In some cases the Generation One influences were clear, in others the designs of classic characters were wildly reimagined into near unrecognizable forms. Paramount seems aware of this issue and while Bumblebee still has a face that is similar to the one we have seen in previous films, it is very clear there is some service being paid to fans of a more traditional Transformers aesthetic in Bumblebee's design. There are a lot less exposed mechanical parts, and the rounder shapes formed by the "shell" of the VW Beetle along with his smaller size call back to Generation One Bumblebee much more than any other previous live action incarnation of the character.
Stranger in a Strange Land
Shortly after Bumblebee reveals himself to Charlie, he shrinks into a corner in a vain attempt to hide away from Charlie. It is important to keep in mind that if we are to treat this film as a prequel to the live action movie series (or a parallel timeline if you prefer) this Bumblebee is about twenty years younger than the one we first met in 2007's "Transformers" film. In this film he could be new to Earth and Charlie could be the one to help guide him into becoming the confident Autobot we see in the other films. This also serves as a reminder that Bumblebee was always meant to be a young Autobot, and it is possible this fear shows some of his youthful inexperience in dealing with alien life forms.
There is no doubt that the Transformers films have been grand in scope and action. However as the film series moved along it started to get away from some of the sense of fun and adventure shown in the first film. This quick shot of Charlie and another kid in the car gives a sense of exuberance that I really hope permeates the film as a whole.
In the first live action Transformers film fans were introduced to the secret organization known as "Sector 7". This group monitored the Earth for Transformers and had historical data on them going back for ages. In later films they all but vanished as other human baddies took their place, but in this prequel they appear fully operational as they mobilize with Agent Burns (John Cena) in the lead.
Starscream, is that you?
In 2007's "Transformers" film Starscream was introduced as a unique looking Decepticon with a triangular design and an F-22 Raptor vehicle mode. However, with this film set years before the Raptor ever took flight, the devious Decepticon would have to have a more retro vehicle mode. In this film he appears to transform into a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom. But the most important part is the glimpse we get of the robot mode! Instead of his triangular shape with an insectoid head, this Starscream looks much more like a traditional Seeker complete with a head that features a crest and "vents" on either side! Based on reaction from fans so far this may actually be the shot that has them most excited in the trailer. It shows how a design that was once very far removed from its source material has been brought much more in line with the aesthetic fans have been hoping for. This also shows that the humans will not be the only baddies in the film!
A girl and her car
From the beginning of this trailer all the way to the end it is clear at the core of this movie will be a connection between Charlie and Bumblebee that echoes classic stories like Elliot and E.T. or Hogarth and The Iron Giant. The lack of an emotional hook is something Transformers films have often been criticized for and it really feels like this movie wants to move away from that perception.
A hint of what is to come
In the final shot of the trailer we see Bumblebee with his battle mask down next to a wrecked vehicle, likely a mid point or ending of an action scene. Most notable however are the chest panels which appear to come from a Willys MB jeep. This suggests at some point we will see Bumblebee "scan" a vehicle to take on a different form, perhaps for an infiltration mission? Either way this hints that Bumblebee will not stay a VW Beetle forever and it is even conceivable that by the end of the film he could take on his Chevrolet Camaro mode last seen in the 2007 "Transformers" film.
On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.
Bumblebee is set to open on December 21, 2018. The film is directed by Travis Knight and stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon and Stephen Schneider. Follow Ben's World of Transformers for more updates as we receive them!