After five movies containing more Bayhem than it is medically advised to be exposed to, Paramount’s Billion Dollar Transformers Franchise imploded with the release of The Last Knight. In need of saving, Paramount turned to a different Knight, Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two String) to helm their 80s set Bumblebee spin-off.
Some eighteen months on, and Bumblebee is about to arrive in cinemas and thus far hasn’t received a single negative review. The trailers have suggested that Travis Knight isn’t taking a page out of Michael Bay’s book (Blow it Up, Blow It Up Again, Blow It Up Some More, Never Stop Blowing Shit Up), instead he’s taking inspiration from executive producer Steven Spielberg. Bringing a touch of nostalgia mixed with the simplicity of a youngster discovering a giant robot in need of help at a time she needs it most. E.T, The Iron Giant, and many more use this simple formula to great effect, and Bumblebee looks all the better for keeping things simple. I know what I’m doing on Boxing Day.
Transformers producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura spoke with Slash Film during the press junket for Bumblebee, and has made some interesting comments about how the spin-off has helped dictate the future.
“I think we’ve learned something in this movie about tone that I would think the next big Transformers movie is going to have. It’s not like we’re going to copy it but we’ve learned something. There’s more freedom than I think we originally thought in terms of what we can do.
When we did the first movie, at first there was a lot of pushback that we weren’t doing it the way it was done before. My feeling was always that if we’d done it, you would’ve gone, ‘Well, I’ve already seen it.’ So how do you evolve things forward is I think the hardest thing because you’ve got to retain why people love it, but at the same time if you give them the same experience, they’re going to be bored with it.”
According to Di Bonaventura, an outright reboot isn’t going to happen, but a fresh setting and new cast are likely to transpire. Essentially, a course correction to bring new ideas to the franchise. Some plot threads from the Bay era of Transformers won’t be a priority for the future of the franchise. In particular, the tease of Unicron in The Last Knight won’t be pulled upon in the next instalment.
“Okay, I’m going to be controversial. I’m not a fan of Unicron. It’s too big. It’s so big it’s beyond any sort of relatable thing I think, for me personally. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to be in the series someday. I don’t know that I’ve thought much about it honestly because we’ve been focused on this movie.”
It might have taken them five movies, but Paramount has finally realised that less is more, and the story is King. Stop setting up writers rooms years in advance to map out a roster of movies, it is genuinely pleasing to hear that they are taking the Mission Impossible approach, focus on making one great movie at a time.
I have a lot of love for the first live-action Transformers, it was fun and delivered a blockbuster with some heart. That all went out the window for the sequels with audiences finally declaring that they’ve had enough of this sort of thing with part five.
Bumblebee is available in selected UK cinemas this weekend ahead of its nationwide release on December 24.