Bumblebee

Bumblebee

2018, PG-13, 113 min. Directed by Travis Knight. Starring Hailee Steinfeld, Dylan O’Brien, Megyn Price, John Cena, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett, Pamela Adlon, Grey Griffin, Peter Cullen, Marcella Bragio.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 21, 2018

Someday, somewhere, somebody is going to discover a Venn diagram showing the overlap between fans of the Smiths and people who still believe Michael Bay’s Transformers films are going to morph into a tentpole franchise genuinely worth their time. To which I must ask, “How soon is now?” Apologies to Stephen Patrick Morrissey, but Bumblebee, a spin-off/prequel to the bombastic chaos of Bay and Hasbro’s long-running series is a surprisingly sweet riff on what has come before – albeit this time constructed from equal parts The Iron Giant, assorted nods to John Hughes, and by far the series’ most seamlessly realistic CGI.

It also boasts a storyline chock-full of angsty teenage heart – the script by Christina Hodson places the Transformers first ever female lead protagonist front and center – while evening out the action-to-humor ratio that’s been missing from Bay’s overly serious installments for ages. We can thank incoming director Knight for all of that. The Laika Studios veteran's last film, stop motion masterpiece Kubo and the Two Strings, was nominated for an Oscar, and prior to that he worked as lead animator on two other highly regarded films, ParaNorman and the Neil Gaiman adaptation Coraline. Knight brings an honest-to-goodness sense of wonder to Bumblebee that feels worlds away from the self-important cacophony of, say, Transformers: The Last Knight.

After opening with a backstory battle between the peace-loving Autobots (the ones who transform into vehicles) and the warmongering Decepticons (the ones who, uh, are deceitful), the film then moves to Earth, circa 1987, where the titular mecha-soldier (neé B-127) has been sent to safeguard our planet. In short order, he’s relieved of both his voice and memory by a trailing Decepticon, but not before running afoul of Sector 7 Agent Burns (Cena) and his gung-ho band of less-than-merry men, after which the wounded, yellow Autobot transforms himself into a ’69 Volkswagen Bug. Enter Steinfeld’s punk-wave Charlie, a budding grease monkey and Smiths-loving teen minus the requisite father figure but eager to repair her late father’s beloved Fifties-era Mustang. While scrounging for parts in a junkyard, she discovers the hidden B-127 and his transformative abilities, christens her new pal with his famous nickname, and spends the rest of the film trying to keep him safe from discovery by friends, family, Agent Burns, and a pair of Decepticons (Bassett and Theroux) masquerading as the Good Guys. Coming-of-age action ensues.

Director Knight keeps the film lively, funny, and – perhaps most importantly – easy to follow. Bay’s Transformers movies were more than meets the eye chiefly because his epic melees were disorderly jumbles of incomprehensible bot-on-bot mayhem; you needed more than two eyes just to keep track of who was winning what in any given set piece. Knight, coming from a born animator’s background, retrofits the intergalactic Sturm und Drang for a more humanistic tone that manages to be both more entertaining overall and moderately Spielbergian (he continues to executive produce the franchise) in this tale of a girl and her big, lovable, lemon-colored E.T. It’s a kinder, gentler Transformers movie for the holidays. Go figure.

Showtimes

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 South Capital of Texas Hwy, 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Mon., Jan. 21

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:50, 4:50, 7:40

Tue., Jan. 22

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:50, 4:50, 7:40, 9:10

Wed., Jan. 23

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:50, 4:50, 7:40

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Mon., Jan. 21

digital 10:15am, 1:10, 4:00, 6:55, 10:00

Tue., Jan. 22

digital 1:10, 4:00, 6:55, 10:00

Wed., Jan. 23

digital 1:10, 4:00, 6:55, 10:00

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Mon., Jan. 21

digital 10:10am, 12:55, 3:40, 6:35, 9:20

Tue., Jan. 22

digital 12:40, 3:40, 6:35, 9:20

Wed., Jan. 23

digital 12:40, 3:40, 6:35, 9:20

Mon., Jan. 21

digital 10:35am, 1:30, 4:35, 7:35, 10:30

Tue., Jan. 22

digital 10:35am, 1:30, 4:35, 7:35, 10:30

Wed., Jan. 23

digital 10:35am, 1:30, 4:35, 7:35, 10:30

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Mon., Jan. 21

digital 1:45, 4:50, 7:55, 10:45

Tue., Jan. 22

digital 1:45, 4:50, 7:55, 10:45

Wed., Jan. 23

digital 1:45, 4:50, 7:55, 10:45

Thu., Jan. 24

digital 1:45, 4:50, 7:55, 10:45

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., Jan. 21

digital 11:20am, 2:05, 5:00, 7:40, 10:20

Tue., Jan. 22

digital 11:20am, 2:05, 5:00, 7:40, 10:20

Wed., Jan. 23

digital 11:20am, 2:05, 5:00, 7:40, 10:20

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Mon., Jan. 21

digital 10:00am, 12:45, 3:30, 7:30

Tue., Jan. 22

digital 12:45, 3:30, 7:30

Wed., Jan. 23

digital 12:45, 3:30, 7:30

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Mon., Jan. 21

1:15, 4:30, 7:25, 10:20

Tue., Jan. 22

1:15, 4:30, 7:25, 10:20

Wed., Jan. 23

1:15, 4:30, 7:25, 10:20

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Mon., Jan. 21

11:25am, 2:15, 5:10, 7:50, 10:35

Tue., Jan. 22

11:25am, 2:15, 5:10, 7:50, 10:35

Wed., Jan. 23

11:25am, 2:15, 5:10, 7:50, 10:35

Flix Brewhouse

2200 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/244-3549, www.flixbrewhouse.com/round-rock

Mon., Jan. 21

CC 11:40am, 3:00, 6:30, 9:45

Tue., Jan. 22

CC 12:15, 6:30, 9:45

Wed., Jan. 23

CC 12:15, 6:30, 9:45

Thu., Jan. 24

CC 12:15, 6:30, 9:45

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., Jan. 21

CC/DVS 12:20, 3:05, 7:30, 10:25

Tue., Jan. 22

CC/DVS 12:20, 3:05, 7:30, 10:25

Wed., Jan. 23

CC/DVS 12:20, 3:05, 7:30, 10:25

Thu., Jan. 24

CC/DVS 12:20, 3:05, 7:30, 10:25

Hometown Cinemas

120 MLK Jr. Industrial Blvd. W, Lockhart, 512/398-4100, www.hometowncinemas.com

Mon., Jan. 21

11:20am, 2:00, 4:35, 7:15

Tue., Jan. 22

11:20am, 2:00, 4:35, 7:15

Wed., Jan. 23

11:20am, 2:00, 4:35, 7:15

Thu., Jan. 24

11:20am, 2:00, 4:35, 7:15

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., Jan. 21

CC/DVS 1:30, 4:30, 7:20, 10:10

Tue., Jan. 22

CC/DVS 1:30, 4:30, 7:20, 10:10

Wed., Jan. 23

CC/DVS 1:30, 4:30, 7:20, 10:10

Thu., Jan. 24

CC/DVS 1:30, 4:30, 7:20, 10:10

Moviehouse & Eatery - Lantana Place

7415 Southwest Parkway, Building 7, 512/572-0770, www.themoviehouse.com/lantana/

Mon., Jan. 21

12:30, 2:10, 5:20, 8:30

Tue., Jan. 22

12:30, 2:10, 5:20, 8:30

Wed., Jan. 23

12:30, 2:10, 5:20, 8:30

Thu., Jan. 24

12:30, 2:10, 5:20, 8:30

Schulman Theatres Lost Pines 8

1600 Chestnut St, Bastrop, 512/321-0123, www.schulmantheatres.com

Mon., Jan. 21

10:05am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:15, 10:15

Tue., Jan. 22

10:05am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:15, 10:15

Wed., Jan. 23

10:05am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:15, 10:15

ShowBiz Cinemas 8 Marble Falls

2600 Hwy 281 North, Marble Falls

Call theatre for August 22-23 showtimes.

Mon., Jan. 21

11:00am, 1:40, 4:30, 7:10

Tue., Jan. 22

1:40, 4:30, 7:10

Wed., Jan. 23

1:40, 4:30, 7:20

Thu., Jan. 24

1:40, 4:30, 7:10

Sky Cinemas

13201 US-290, 512/457-0700, www.skycinemas.com

Mon., Jan. 21

10:40am, 4:00, 6:35, 9:10

Tue., Jan. 22

3:00, 8:20

Wed., Jan. 23

5:10

Thu., Jan. 24

5:10

Starplex 12 San Marcos

1250 Wonder World Drive, San Marcos, 512/805-8000

Mon., Jan. 21

1:00, 4:00, 7:15, 10:15

Tue., Jan. 22

1:00, 4:00, 7:15, 10:15

Wed., Jan. 23

1:00, 4:00, 7:15, 10:15

Thu., Jan. 24

1:00, 4:00, 7:15, 10:15

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., Jan. 21

CC/DVS 11:00am

Tue., Jan. 22

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:40, 4:20, 10:10

Wed., Jan. 23

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:40, 4:20, 10:10

Thu., Jan. 24

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:40, 4:20, 10:10

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READ MORE
More Travis Knight Films
Kubo and the Two Strings
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Bumblebee
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Jan. 21, 2019

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Bumblebee, Travis Knight, Hailee Steinfeld, Dylan O’Brien, Megyn Price, John Cena, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett, Pamela Adlon, Grey Griffin, Peter Cullen, Marcella Bragio

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