Bumblebee (2018)

bumbDescribing this as the best film of the Transformers franchise is likely the very definition of faint praise, but there you go, and here it is- Bumblebee, the best film of the increasingly moronic franchise. That being said, the film is still dreadfully formulaic with a predictable plot and tiredly formulaic characters, but at least it has heart, in a reasonably affecting lead and some great ’80s songs (even if that is, hey, so Guardians of the Galaxy, isn’t it?).

So the biggest question about Bumblebee is, what is it about the 1980s? You know, films either made in the ’80s or set in the ’80s, they seem to be in a league of their own, they just seem to have a headstart on any film set in, say, the present-day. Is it all just heady nostalgia? If it was just that, sure, films like Bumblebee and television shows like Stranger Things would appeal to people like me (hey, the clue is in the name of this blog) but would it really spell huge mainstream success or critical appeal? The ’80s were quite awhile ago now, and the young ‘uns going to the cinema these days weren’t born back then. So what makes the 80s so cool, and is it just that the fashions and the music were actually better back then? Is that a fact now?

Is it the escapist appeal of a simpler world that is without the internet or mobile phones or social media which so inconveniently complicate  the scripts of films set n the present day? 

I don’t know, really, but as Frank Finlay’s character noted in Lifeforce (hey, itself of the ’80s – even the bad films from that decade are great) I sense a pattern emerging here. Or a disturbance in the Force (hey, another ’80s film –  I think I should stop now).

Perhaps I should condemn these ’80s-set films for following the JJ Abrams School of Film-making, which is to just simply steal the tropes of so many Amblin/Steven Spielberg films of that decade and try to get away with it by saying “oh, it was INSPIRED by” or “I LOVE those old movies!”. Maybe I should condemn modern audiences for flocking to the familiar and encouraging said practises by making such films and TV shows such successes. Maybe there is really nothing new under the sun. 

In any case, Bumblebee proved pleasant enough fluff; indeed mostly harmless. If I were scoring films with stars these days, the film would almost get five for the scene where Bumblebee spits out the cassettes of The Smiths and Rick Astley, when the film avows that we have to have some measure of integrity when fawning over ’80s pop culture.  

8 thoughts on “Bumblebee (2018)

  1. Oddly enough I like the Transformers movies far more than the animated versions. Not necessarily a big fan of movies set in the 1980s as it was a decade I hated and don’t look back at with any kind of nostalgia. Still Bumblebee was a peasant and watchable movie and was a prequel to the Franchise and therefore gets my vote.

    1. Well Daniel you’ve shot down my theory regards 1980s movies being so strangely popular, ha ha but I suppose those of us who lived through that decade can have a more reasoned argument for disliking this current trend for films being obsessed on that decade and fashioned on its films.

      One of my curious observations of the Snyder Watchmen movie is how well it evokes the Cold War/Nuclear War paranoia that I grew up with through the ’80s (Two Tribes in the charts etc), which is something largely lost on viewers who grew up later in calmer (pre-9/11, anyway) times. The 1980s were not the utopia that films like ET/Back to the Future etc might suggest to any post-millennial generation.Maybe The Terminator and Robocop more honestly reflect that decade?

      Anyway, thanks very much for your comment and I hope you are well.

  2. I’m sure the ’80s revival has something to do with people who grew up during / close to it now being in charge of making things. Over the past couple of decades we’ve had revivals of stuff from the ’60s and ’70s, to varying degrees of success (for every Mission: Impossible there’s a half-a-dozen Dukes of Hazzard), and I guess it’s currently the ’80s turn. But it’s interesting to me how young people have consistently be sold on this retro stuff — they don’t seem to react like “ugh, grownups forcing old shit on us”, but embrace it as part of the mix with new stuff. I think you’d need a better understanding of cultural psychology than I have to explain that one.

    1. Re-runs of the A-Team and Knight Rider seem very popular. I am not so sure the TV series’ Blue Thunder and Street Hawk would fare so well if shown now. Airwolf I seen a number time over the course of this year but not too sure about. Jan-Michael Vincent’s surliness doesn’t quite work for me but to be honest it never really worked for the first time around.

  3. Pingback: The 2020 List: September – the ghost of 82

  4. It was the Era of Thatcher, the disappearance of Consensus Politics and the ushering of the Neo Liberalism which is still with us. The Watchman Movie did reflect the Cold War Era very well. V for Vendetta evokes the Era yet to come I fear. Terminator and Robocop pretty much reflect the decade.

    1. The possibility that post-Covid Britain will be like V for Vendetta is the most depressing, yet hauntingly possible, thing I’ve yet heard, and goodness knows there’s all sorts of depressing observations going around. I’m particularly horrified about the depravations of the poor caused by Covid and the worsening economy, and how the mega-rich just seem to be untouched by it, its scary how the chasm between rich and poor seems to be widening and I fear for the social-political consequences going forward.

      1. This response invokes memories of Soylent Green, where policeman Charlton Heston makes a shocking discovery while investigating the murder of a wealthy industrialist. Looking at what we are dealing with now, it does make you wonder.

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