Watching Bumblebee will definitely spark a sense of déjà vu as it's essentially a remake of Michael Bay's original Transformers film - but it's also much better than Michael Bay's 2007 franchise-starter. Director Travis Knight's 1980s-set, nostalgia-filled prequel is a soft reboot-in-disguise that carries the hopes of giving the Transformers franchise a jump-start; from a creative standpoint, Bumblebee triumphantly finds the humor and humanity that was missing from the saga the way the AllSpark Cube was missing in Bay's first Transformers.
Bumblebee's basic story mirrors Transformers: 20 years before Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) meets the heroic yellow Autobot, the titular Transformer arrives on Earth with a mission to protect the planet from the Decepticons. Critically damaged and suffering a memory core failure, Bee takes the form of a yellow Volkswagen Beetle and meets his first human friend, a teenage girl named Charlie Watson (Academy Award-nominee Hailee Steinfeld). Meanwhile, the Decepticons hunt for Bumblebee while the U.S. military group Sector Seven also searches for the Autobot. After Bumblebee is captured, Charlie rescues him and, together, they save the world from the Decepticons. The rest of the Autobots then arrive on Earth (in Bumblebee's post-credits scene), seeking to make a home on our world, setting the stage for the story to continue.
By drastically scaling down the action and scope of the story, Bumblebee's screenwriter Christina Hodson instead focuses on the relationship between Charlie and Bee. Newly turned 18, Charlie mourns her dead father and feels like an outcast, even from her own family. In Bee, a literal outcast alone on an alien world, Charlie finds a friend and confidant; as she is able to repair and restore Bumblebee back to the Decepticon-killing warrior he was, Charlie herself is able to heal and find closure with the loss of her father. Dramatically, this is a huge leap forward from the central premise in Transformers of Sam Witwicky helping the Autobots save the world from Megatron and the Decepticons. Let's further compare and contrast Bumblebee with Transformers and see how else the new film improved on its 2007 predecessor:
- This Page: The Similarities Between Bumblebee And Transformers
- Next Page: Why Bumblebee Being A Remake Improved The Transformers Franchise
The Similarities Between Bumblebee And Transformers 2007
While Bumblebee is by no means a shot-for-shot remake of Transformers, it echoes a great deal of the 2007 film. Both of the main characters, Charlie and Sam, meet Bumblebee on their birthdays. They each desire a car as a birthday present, but for different reasons; Sam feels he needs wheels in order to be cool enough to attract a girl, specifically Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox), while Charlie wants a car as a means of escape from her family, whom she resents for having moved on from the death of her father while she still mourns him. Sam and Charlie are both considered outcasts and are bullied by the 'cool' kids at school, but each of their love interests, Mikaela and Memo (Jorge Lendeborg, Jr.), are all-in for whatever adventure happens once they meet Bumblebee.
In Bumblebee and Transformers, the Autobot is a fish-out-of-water in human suburbia. After Bumblebee takes Sam and Mikaela to meet Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots, the robots all follow Sam to his house while he looks for the glasses which contain the map to the AllSpark Cube. Sam and Mikaela have to find the glasses while trying to make sure his parents don't notice the Autobots blundering around and wrecking their backyard. Bumblebee has two similar scenes; one where an attempt to prank a mean girl goes awry when Bee destroys her BMW and a second where Bee is left alone, enters Charlie's house, and accidentally wrecks the place. Both films also have a character ask, "Are you on drugs?" Sam says it to a police officer accusing him of drug use while Charlie's mother Sally (Pamela Adlon) says it to her son, Otis (Jason Drucker), when he's behaving strangely. Both films also feature awkward comedy where both Charlie and Sam are embarrassed by their weird parents.
Sector Seven plays a big role in both films; in Transformers, the Men in Black-like agency comes after Sam and Mikaela for their contact with Non-Biological Extraterrestrials and comically invade the Witwicky home. When Ron Witwicky says that he's never heard of Sector Seven, Agent Seymour Simmons (John Turturro) replies, "[You] never will." Similarly, after Sector Seven captures Bumblebee and brings Charlie home, her stepfather, who's also named Ron, confesses to the soldiers that he once stole a box of Mallomars to which Agent Jack Burns (John Cena) replied, "We know." And in both films, Bumblebee is captured by Sector Seven by being impaled with electrical chains and he is tortured while incarcerated before Sam/Mikaela and Charlie/Memo help free him.
Bumblebee also fights the Decepticons at night in industrial settings. In Transformers, Bee and Barricade battle it out at a warehouse before the Autobot reveals himself to Sam and Mikaela, while in Bumblebee, the final battle takes place at a harborside factory. Bumblebee fights and destroys both Shatter and Dropkick while Charlie disables the beacon the Decepticons are building to signal an invasion. Because Bee can't talk in either film (Bumblebee explains how he loses his vocal processors), he communicates through song lyrics via his radio. And both Sam and Charlie are in awe when Bee upgrades himself; in Bumblebee, he switches from a Volkswagen Beetle into a 1977 Camaro, while he turns into a more futuristic Camaro in Transformers.