Transformers: Bumblebee Trailer Breakdown

Paramount Pictures

Nicholas Silva, Layout Editor

Michael Bay has been behind five interesting, action packed Transformers movies that brought the franchise back to life after its awe-inspiring success in the eighties. The movies were not all well received, especially the fifth installment – “The Last Knight”- which many felt was a plot less, explosion ridden, confusing, and tasteless money pit that threw aspects from across the franchise into a blender and threw the result into the barrel of a cannon aimed exclusively at making money. Fortunately, Michael Bay is not returning to the director’s chair for the next Transformers movie.

The director would not appear to be the only thing that is changing as the franchise takes its next step. Instead of continuing on with the earth-is-a-giant-robot story line proposed in “The Last Knight”, “Bumblebee” will be serving as a prequel to 2007’s “Transformers”.

Here’s the pitch: In 1987, Bumblebee is damaged and in hiding from the deceptions. He hides in a small California beach town as a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle -his classic appearance- and eventually is found by a 17 year old girl named Charlie Watson who helps him fight against the deceptions and hide from Sector 7, which is returning from the first movie.

However, here is the problem: that sounds a lot like the plot of the original movie, just substitute Charlie Watson for Sam Witwicky and the Beetle for a Camaro and there is really no difference. Yes, based on the trailers it does look like it will follow a different path with perhaps a more grim take, but it runs the same risk as many movies these days, such as the sequel trilogy of Star Wars, and repeating past plots with slightly varied details.

Cybertron as seen in the original cartoons.

This might not be a problem, however, for one important reason: the autobots. Based on the film series’ lore, the autobots such as Optimus Prime do not arrive on Earth until 2007, aside from the scout Bumblebee. In the latest trailer, Optimus Prime appears as a hologram of sorts, and the War for Cybertron (the Transformers’ home planet) is heavily referenced, which would indicate that the movie might follow that as a side plot, but at least suggests that the bulk of the autobots are still involved in the conflict, not traveling to Earth.

The movie is in a risky position, again, since this in itself -while compounding the lore- is also threatening to tear it apart. On July 20th, 1969, NASA landed the first manned mission to the moon; in the third movie, “Dark of the Moon”, it is revealed that this historical event plays a dramatic role in the history of Cybertron. Sentinel Prime, Optimus’ predecessor, crashed into the moon in an supposed effort to hide destructive weapons from Megatron -the big bad villain. The moon mission, according to the lore, was to investigate this crash, and identify the inhabitants of the vessel. Also in lore, Sentinel fled Cybertron in the final days of the War.

So, there is possibility for more continuity-shredding storytelling. However, this could be explained. For example, Optimus’ transmission to Bumblebee could be from the past, and he has been holding onto it for years. Perhaps, the autobots did not flee until a few years after the War ended, when they might have learned of Megatron’s location, and the location of the All Spark which was the center of the original film. The issue, therefore, can easily be smoothed over, but hopefully the time will be taken to do so. Also, in the trailer, Bumblebee appears to be the only autobot on Earth, and the decepticons are hunting him. This could mean that the continuity is not in grave danger, just at risk of infringing small technicalities that most viewers are unlikely to notice.

However, there is hope that, regardless of likely plot holes, “Bumblebee” will still be a good movie. Many voice actors are returning to voice their respective Transformers. For example, Jess Harnell is returning to voice the decepticon Barricade -and perhaps autobot Ironhide- whom he voiced in four of the five previous films. Also, Peter Cullen is reprising his role as Optimus Prime, a role which he has inhabited for almost forty years since the original Generation 1 cartoon debuted.

G1 Transformers is perhaps, in fact, the most likely reason why “Bumblebee” will succeed. Previously, Michael Bay has taken what was, and shoved it into his traditional ‘big explosions’ style of storytelling, shedding much of the finesse and tradition rooted in the shape shifting robots’ endeavors.

Photo Credit to Amazon.
An action figure depicting G1 Soundwave.

It would appear that the new steward of the franchise, Knight, is finally paying homage to their roots. As previously mentioned, Bumblebee will be appearing in his classic Volkswagen Beetle form; also, Optimus Prime and other transformers that have appeared in the toys, comics, and G1 show have recovered their original appearance. Most dramatic and welcomed is the classical appearance of Soundwave, a loyal decepticon that had traditionally appeared as a cassette player, but more recently appeared as a sports car. In the trailer for “Bumblebee” there is a shot of the classic Soundwave producing a cassette-tape Ravage just like in the original series. Also, previously absent transformers, such as triple changing decepticon Blitzwing are appearing, or are rumored to appear, in the movie.

So, while “Bumblebee” may have many problems lurking under the surface, it may prove to be exactly what the franchise needs right now, in a time where every movie concludes with the fear, not hope, that there will be a sequel. This movie seems to be shaping into a bridge between the new and the old, blending aspects which will appeal to both true fans and the casual observer, and hopefully bring Transformers back from the gloom and reinstate it as the masterpiece it once was. “Bumblebee” is set to premiere December 21st.  




At this time, almost everything remains conjecture, and this information should not be considered as fact: it is an opinion of difficulties that the film might face, and issues within the franchise.