Bumblebee (2018) Review

Bumblebee (2018)

Directed by Travis Knight

Based on Transformers by Hasbro

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this review short: Bumblebee was fun. It’s a lot better than those stupid Michael Bay Transformers movies but, hell, it wouldn’t take much to top those. It’s not up there with Steven Spielberg’s family films of the Eighties, though, which I’ve seen Bumblebee compared to. No way. It’s a fun family “popcorn” movie but I wasn’t exactly blown away. (Sorry)

First of all, I’ll say that I’m not a Transformers fan in the slightest so this review is from someone with almost no Transformers knowledge whatsoever. Second of all, I’ll say that I’m damn old so I loved that this is set in 1987. I’m a sucker for anything set in the Eighties since that’s when I grew up. Thirdly, I’m now going to moan about the ways in which they got the Eighties wrong (although the director is my age but I’m assuming he didn’t have full say on all the 80’s stuff that got crammed in).

I liked Hailee Steinfeld’s character in this and of course loved that the lead was a teenage girl (like me in the Eighties). So I could relate to her at times but she’s also a bit too much “ideal Eighties girl” with all her heavy metal t-shirts & dark eyeliner. I was a metalhead in the late 80s (as were most Midwestern teens) but I didn’t own one metal t-shirt. That’s not how girls tended to dress. And we didn’t wear eyeliner in that way. And… I’m sorry but there’s no way a girl wearing a Motörhead t-shirt back then would also be listening to The Smiths. Not as a teen, anyway. The Smiths were the whiny shit you got into once you went to college. (For the record, I do like both metal & The Smiths but as a teen you tended to stick to one genre so you wouldn’t be an outcast).

And don’t even get me started on Rick Fucking Astley!!! News flash for non-80s kids: We didn’t like Rick Astley. He wasn’t some big thing. I know no one who bought a Rick Astley album. AND NO ONE WEARING A MOTÖRHEAD T-SHIRT WOULD BE CAUGHT DEAD WITH A RICK ASTLEY CASSETTE!!! There. Music rant over. The music choices for this soundtrack were mostly too damn obvious but I was pleased to hear some songs (Hooray for Tears For Fears). Oh, one more rant: The Smiths are okay but I can only take so much of their music so can we stop having moody teens listening to them in movies? Has Hollywood not gotten the memo that Morrissey is a bit of a twat now anyway? You know whose music doesn’t get annoying?? The Cure. The Cure are far superior and not so cliché so, hey Hollywood, how about having your moody teens be fans of The Cure instead? From someone who lived through that decade, this is actually more realistic.

As for the other 80’s clichés in this film, I guess it’s not as bad as I was thinking as I was so distracted by the music thing. Hailee Steinfeld really didn’t look at all like an 80’s teen despite them giving her some silly bangs (a fringe to you UK readers). I suppose they didn’t want her to look ridiculous. But the “mean girl bitch” looked so Eighties it hurt. No one really looked like her back then, either – normal teens were somewhere between these two girls. Maybe I should talk about the actual movie??

Bumblebee is a good character. I totally want him as a friend but I think I just prefer robots to humans as I also want to hang out with WALL-E & R2-D2. So I really enjoyed this friendship and, yes, it’s a feelgood family movie. We need more of those! There’s also plenty of action, which should keep Transformers fans happy (I assume). There’s actually more action than I expected from the trailers, which made it look like simply a warm & fuzzy friendship movie. There’s a full-out war on their home planet or whatever, though. There’s also a cute almost-romance with a neighbor boy (who doesn’t at all look like he’s living in the 80s). Meh. I don’t know. I have a terrible cold at the moment! God I hate winter. This movie was fine. It’s a popcorn movie. I’d probably enjoy it more in the summertime… I’m just super grumpy at this time of year.

My Rating: 7/10

I’m going to finally review Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse later today, which is a contender for my favorite film of 2018 (even though I saw it in cold weather). I never expected that!

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Love, Simon (2018) Review 

Love, Simon (2018)

Directed by Greg Berlanti

Based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Starring: Nick Robinson, Bryson Pitts, Nye Reynolds, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Keiynan Lonsdale, Miles Heizer, Logan Miller, Talitha Bateman, Skye Mowbray, Tony Hale, Natasha Rothwell, Drew Starkey, Clark Moore, Joey Pollari, Mackenzie Lintz

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends, and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

My Opinion:

I recently read the YA novel this movie is based on (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – review HERE). I enjoyed the book and would say it’s one of the better YA romances I’ve read recently so was looking forward to seeing how well they did with the movie adaptation (even though romance isn’t really my thing). I have to say that this is one of the rare occasions where the movie is possibly slightly better than the book. It’s close.

They did change quite a few details from the book, which doesn’t always work for people who want to see the story in the exact same way. For example: They added more humor to the movie (a lot of this via a vice principal who didn’t exist in the novel) and Simon has only one instead of two sisters. The changes don’t negatively affect the overall story, though. Simon still feels like the same character from the book and the romance still works well. Actually, Simon feels a little more “real” in the film. His internal struggle is also somehow more apparent and believable in the movie. I think Nick Robinson has done a good job with Simon as it’s not often that a movie character feels slightly more fleshed out than the book character. His family also feel closer in the movie and I liked that they spent plenty of time focusing on his relationship with his them as well as with his friends.

I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good teen book and/or movie. If you’re a reader, I definitely recommend reading the book and then watching the movie. There are enough changes that it’s worth knowing both stories. Overall, the film is slightly better and the characters feel more realistic but I far prefer the ending in the book. I’ll of course avoid spoilers but the film adds a little too much drama to a final scene, making me prefer the more likely scenario in the book. This scene was the only time the film felt a little false, though. Overall, the topic is handled very well. The movie uses humor and sensitivity and thankfully never goes over the top on drama. Being from the John Hughes generation, I can’t say I’m going to be able to fully relate to a modern teen movie but I’m glad that current teens have films like Love, Simon. It’s a good film with enjoyable characters and I’m sure it’ll be a favorite for many current teens. Judging by its 8.1 rating on IMDb, it seems to be a favorite already.

My Rating: 7/10

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli & Every Day by David Levithan (Book Reviews)

I recently posted mini-reviews of these books in my March Roundup of all that I watched & read last month. I’m posting these same reviews again as Love, Simon is now out in UK cinemas and Every Day has a release date of April 20th.

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The movie adaptation of this (Love, Simon) came out in UK cinemas last Friday. This is a YA book (yeah, I do like YA books) and it’s one of the better ones I’ve read in this genre in the past few years. I’m not normally one for YA “romance” (give me the apocalyptic stuff!) but this one was done well and I really bought into this relationship. In the book, Simon is a gay high school student who connects with then starts an anonymous online relationship with another student at his school. I’ve never wanted a couple to get together so bad! The boy Simon talks to is extremely protective of his identity and Simon struggles with this as he wants to meet the boy he’s fallen in love with. I was like “Tell him who you are!!” (you, the reader, aren’t aware of his identity either). Beyond that, there’s not much to say about this book as it’s a fairly typical YA romance. But it’s a good one. I can’t wait to see the movie, which has had excellent reviews. I’ve even heard rumors of it having a John Hughes vibe?! Sounds good to me!

My Rating: 4/5

Every Day by David Levithan

This is a book that I read because, like Mortal Engines (mini-review HERE), I loved the original concept. It’s hard to find stories that feel unique. And, again, it’s a YA romance (Ugh. Sorry!). Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .” The story does feel truly original and I really appreciated that. However, I just didn’t quite connect with the characters. A, who switches bodies every single day, was very interesting as you get some insight into the mind of someone who doesn’t define themselves by their body, gender, family, friends, etc. since these things change every single day. As I said, it’s a great concept but the book is just okay. I didn’t find myself caring as much about these characters as I’d have liked. This also has a movie adaptation coming out this month, but the reviews are meh. I’ll still watch it to see how they handle the story, though.

My Rating: 3/5

Here are the trailers for the movies: