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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Kubo And The Two Strings (2016) & Trolls (2016) Movie Reviews

Here are two reviews for the only two films I’ve seen in the cinema in the past two months. Help!!! I want to go to a grown-up movie again someday! 😦 Well, at least one of these was good…

Kubo And The Two Strings (2016)

Directed by Travis Knight

Starring: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, Matthew McConaughey

Production company: Laika

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film revolves around Kubo, who has magical powers and whose left eye was stolen. Accompanied by Monkey and Beetle, they must subdue the Sisters, Raiden the Moon King and his army of evil spirits.

My Opinion:

Yep – As you probably guessed, this is the good one of these two films. We went to this as a family and all really liked it but, of the three of us, my hubby is the one who loved it the most. He’s a big fan of stop-motion animation (probably thanks to growing up on Ray Harryhausen films) and seems fascinated by the behind-the-scenes stuff that Laika put in their end credits.

Of the Laika films so far, ParaNorman is still possibly my personal favorite but Kubo is a very close second and the one I’d actually say is their “best film” so far. I hated The Boxtrolls (can’t win them all!) but the animation was fantastic as always. I admit to falling asleep in the middle of Coraline years ago & never going back to it but that’s been due to lack of time more than lack of interest. I really should finish that one but will wait until I think the kid is old enough to watch it with me (what I saw was kind of creepy – what age would you guys recommend on that one?).

As with other Laika films, Kubo And The Two Strings is dark, serious, and slightly intense. It’s one you’re obviously not going to bring a three-year-old to or to watch for the simple, silly giggles like you get out of something like Trolls. Laika doesn’t need to make those sort of films, though – we already have studios such as DreamWorks for that. As a (admittedly sometimes too snobby) fan of film, I have a lot of respect for Laika (and Pixar) making true art for kids & grown-ups alike and for never dumbing things down for their younger audiences.

As a lover of Studio Ghibli & a lot of Japanese films, I loved the setting & vibe of Kubo (although, of course, it’s voiced mostly by American or British actors). That’s my only small complaint about the film – the voices of Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara & Matthew McConaughey don’t exactly give this film a genuine Japanese vibe. But, well… it was made in the West & we speak English, so…

Anyway – I don’t want to take away from the film as it’s a lovely work of art with an original & unique story. No, not all kids will love it and you might not want to let anyone too young watch it (mine is seven & she really liked it, though not as much as the Studio Ghibli films she’s seen. Yes! I love my kid). 😉 I’d say minimum age of six on this one but, as always, it depends on each individual kid. The evil Sisters & Moon King are quite frightening and Kubo’s eye is stolen for crying out loud (this isn’t shown)… Actually, yeah – this one is pretty scary come to think of it. But there are still light-hearted moments and my daughter seemed pretty taken with Kubo, Monkey & Beetle, who are strong main characters.

I want to give this movie a slightly higher score as I think it’s very good but there’s also something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on. I think I just have yet to fully connect with any of the characters in Laika’s films in the same way I have with so many Pixar characters. I don’t get the same sort of wave of emotion that I do while watching the best of Pixar or Ghibli but I think Laika is coming closer to someday achieving that same level of genius. I feel kind of the same about this film as I do Song Of The Sea, which I also watched recently. That was absolutely gorgeous to look at but I didn’t “care” as much as I’d hoped to while watching it. Still, Kubo is another step in the right direction & I look forward to future films from Laika.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Trolls (2016)

Directed by Mike Mitchell

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, James Corden, Gwen Stefani

Production company: DreamWorks Animation

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film revolves around two trolls on a quest to save their village from destruction by the Bergens, creatures who devour trolls.

My Opinion:

Kids’ films are hard to review, which is why at one point I tried to review Cinderella (2015) in a way where I gave my daughter’s opinion as well as my own (and hubby’s – he’s actually as big of a movie nut as I am). This was because I was accused of taking kids’ films too seriously in one of my reviews and I actually got quite upset because it was a time when I cared what people thought of me. Not anymore! 😉 Screw that. I’m a movie-blogging-asshole with strong opinions & feel that even “kids’ films” should maintain certain standards. Hell, they’re even more important since what they teach (and too often preach) is going to have an impact on impressionable young minds. Which brings me to Trolls…..

I have no idea how to review this because it seriously SUCKS but my daughter LOVED it! Hahaha! I’m so conflicted!!!! My snobby self wants to trash it but, in all honesty, it’s one of my favorite trips to the cinema in ages. She giggled like crazy through this entire glitter vomit nightmare and it made me so happy that I wanted to cry. What’s better than seeing your kid happy?! So, um… Hmm.

Trolls! Ugh. Well, this movie was pretty much what I expect from DreamWorks. DreamWorks has made loads of highly successful films and I respect that as it’s far more impressive than staring at spreadsheets all day like an un-artistic loser like me but I’ll never see their films as anything more than “movies for kids”. There’s nothing wrong with this and I’m glad they’ve made so many kids happy but I prefer family films that appeal to young & old alike. And so you don’t think I’m a grumpy old fart who can’t just shut up & enjoy a simple kids’ movie, I do like some DreamWorks (I should do one of my annoying top tens! The Kung Fu Pandas & Monsters Vs. Aliens are probably my favorites while my kid seems to like How To Train Your Dragon & that weird Puss In Boots).

Trolls! Is it obvious I don’t feel like reviewing this??? Let’s see… Poppy was very cute. My daughter loved young Poppy at the beginning of the movie and, while she went too annoyingly cute at times, the character mostly stayed on the right side of the sickeningly sweet line. The kid also loved that she’s voiced by Anna Kendrick since she knows her as the Cups song girl. She also likes Gwen Stefani, who was completely wasted in a tiny role in a movie so full of music.

Speaking of music, Trolls took a lot of GREAT songs and ruined them. Again, I’m conflicted as they had the good taste to pick songs by artists such as Gorillaz & Justice (!!!) but then ruined them by turning them into dumb songs about troll hair (!!!!!). Oops – I’m being bitchy again. But I thought the hubby was going to either cry or scream & run out of the cinema when the Trolls version of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love started up… Lol! (You think I’m a snob? He’s far worse than I am). To be fair, the movie’s Cyndi Lauper True Colors scene wasn’t bad. And, hey – I think the Justin Timberlake song, Can’t Stop The Feeling, is a genuinely good song and the one thing from this film that will stand the test of time. It got the biggest reaction from kids in the cinema (some even cheered). I said something positive! Yay me! Oh, I also kind of liked the cloud dude. He was weirdly funny. My daughter didn’t like him, though – she looked at me like I was a weirdo when I said he was my favorite character. He looked stoned:

Trolls! They look nothing like the classic Trolls we grew up with. That’s annoying. I want my kid to have a genuine ugly, naked troll doll – not these pink, sparkly cartoon versions! Dammit. At least the classic ones have a brief cameo, I guess. The bad guys in this, the Bergens, were stupid & got on my nerves but at least they made me like the Trolls more. Hey – there’s another positive. Yay me! I’ve said some good things about this movie! Justin Timberlake’s character wasn’t too bad, mostly since he had the right attitude (not an asshole Bergen but not annoyingly happy like the other Trolls).

This review is too long & I’m bored. I was going to write one paragraph & be done with it. Ha! I do ramble on when I’m being bitchy. Sorry about that. Trolls! It sucks but your young kid will probably love it and seeing your kid smile will melt your frozen heart (Anna/Elsa-style!). But those goddamn troll-hair songs will still make you cringe…

My Rating: 5.5/10

**Okay – I admit I was in a horrible mood when I wrote these reviews. Yesterday, however, I watched my first proper grown-up film in months and MAN was it a good one!!! So I’m slightly less grumpy now. 😉 I’ll try to review that film tomorrow…. (it was Arrival, FYI)