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Home Entertainment: ‘Bumblebee’ Blu-ray Review

by Paul Heath

Following on from his huge success with the brilliant Kubo and the Two Strings, filmmaker Travis Knight becomes the first filmmaker (who isn’t Michael Bay) to tackle a live-action Transformers movie. Bumblebee acts as a spin-off/ prequel to the five movies that had graced screens previously, and this one might just be the best so far.

The reason why Bumblebee works is its simplicity. Even though there are other Autobots and Decepticons involved in the narrative, it is absolutely the yellow Beetle’s film, and because there is enough time to solely concentrate on his origin story, it works wonderfully. One of the other positives of the film is the performance of Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie, the other hero of the story who is finding her own way through life, turning 18 in the opening scenes and struggling with the loss of her father.

We hit the ground running from the outset, Optimus Prime appearing during the early scenes, sending Bumblebee, or indeed B-127 as he is know before he is officially Christened by Charlie later on, down to earth to protect its inhabitants from an incoming threat. Of course, that threat is those dastardly Decepticons who pick up a transmission alerting them to Bumblebee’s whereabouts. There’s also John Cena’s Agent Jack Burns, a former U.S. colonel, but now a member of the elite squad Sector 7, formed to protect the earth from the scum of the universe, who is also after Bumblebee after initially coming into contact with him previously during a routine military training exercise.

There’s tons of enjoyable stuff on offer in Knight’s film. Not only are there frequent throwbacks to the toys from the 80s – where this origin tale is set – but also a constant stream of melodies from the time period – think The Smiths, The Pretenders and even a little bit of Rick Astley. Knight and co. manage to bring sentiment to each and every scene, and the unique bond between Charlie and the spritely Autobot is completely believable all of the way through, but especially during the earlier scenes with the young woman and robot bonding in her home garage.

Bumblebee is the kind of movie that will appeal to all ages, even though some of the action sequences feature a tiny bit of mild peril – often involving the destruction of robots. If the younger members of the audience can get past that, they’ll have a blast from start to finish. I loved it.

In terms of the bonus material – well, it’s almost as impressive as the movie itself. The Blu-ray disc features no less than five featurettes with the umbrella title ‘Bringing Bumblebee to the Big Screen’. They range in length between four and ten minutes, but the most comprehensive is the 19-minute making of focusing on the production design. ‘California Cruisin’ Down Memory Lane’ goes into how the filmmakers brought back the 1980s for the film, and is easily the best asset on the release.

There is also ‘Bee Vision: The Transformers Robots of Cybertron’ which examines the opening scene and how it was created. This runs at under four minutes, but there’s also nearly 20 minutes of extended and deleted scenes. Add in the likes of ‘Agent Burns: Welcome to Sector 7’ and ‘Sector 7 Adventures: The Battle at Half Dome’ – which is a motion comic, and then a 10-minute reel of outtakes, and you’ve got a bunch of extras worthy of perhaps the best movie in the growing Transformers universe to date. Well worth your attention.

Bumblebee is available on Digital April 29, 2019 and on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™, and DVD May 13 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

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