BUMBLEBEE – Review by Susan Granger

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As the Transformers civil war between the good-guy Autobots and the evil Decepticons for the distant planet Cybertron continues, this origin story, set in the late 1980s, reveals how Bumblebee came to Earth and befriended a troubled teenage girl.

Still mourning the death of her mechanic father, feisty 18 year-old Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), who loves repairing automobiles, yearns for a car of her own.

Spying a faded yellow, 1967 Volkswagen Beetle in a San Francisco Bay-area junkyard, Charlie brings it home, determined to restore it.

While she’s tinkering, the Beetle suddenly morphs into an enormous alien robot. Terrified at first, “gearhead “Charlie soon realizes she has a new, badass buddy and, together, they enthusiastically indulge in merry mischief.

But then nefarious Decepticons Shatter and Dropkick (voiced by Angela Bassett & Justin Theroux) arrive, convincing the gullible U.S. Military that they’re peaceful visitors, searching for a dangerous, intergalactic traitor.

Yet not everyone is fooled. As suspicious Sector 7 Agent Jack Burns (John Cena) notes, “They’re called Decepticons!”

For those unfamiliar with the backstory, Autobot leader Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) dispatched warrior B-127 (voiced by Dylan O’Brien) on a scouting mission so that, in the future, other Autobots can relocate and protect Earth.

But a fiery crash-landing and a losing battle with Decepticon Blitzwing (voiced by David Sobolov) quickly sends severely damaged B-127 into hiding – until Charlie finds him and dubs him Bumblebee. Their relationship becomes quite endearing.

Working from a coherent, coming-of-age, Spielbergian script by Christina Hodson (Unforgettable), animator-turned-director Travis Knight (Tito and the Two Strings) and his VFX team recapture the inventiveness of Michael Bay’s 2007 action franchise original, adding sentiment and style.

And for those who associate Bumblebee with the more muscular Chevrolet Camaro – just wait!

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Bumblebee is a bittersweet 7. It’s sci-fi with a heart.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.