A common complaint about the Transformers movies is that the robots take a backseat to the humans. Sam Witwicky, Cade Yeager — these are the main characters of the Transformers movies, not Optimus Prime and Megatron. You might think a spinoff film focusing on one specific Transformer could change that. But don’t hold your breath.
Even in his own movie, Bumblebee is going to have a human sidekick. Image: Paramount
The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Hailee Steinfeld is in talks to star in the 2018 Bumblebee Transformers spin-off, from Kubo and the Two Strings director Travis Knight. She’ll play “a tomboy who also holds a job as a mechanic after school”, which is both positive and negative. The positive is that I’m a Steinfeld fan. She was amazing in True Grit, gave the best performance of her career in The Edge of Seventeen, and my dirty little secret is I love the Pitch Perfect movies, of which she’s now a star. She has a good mix of innocence and confidence that could work well in a big action movie like this.
On the other hand, really? Another story about a gritty young kid who becomes friends with a Transformer? Haven’t we already seen this four times already… and aren’t we going to see this again in the upcoming Last Knight? Let me guess, she and Bumblebee develop a deep friendship and he ends up saving her and maybe the world too?
Now, to be fair, I’m being a bit of an arse about this. I have no idea what the script, written by Christina Hodson, actually entails. But as someone who likes Transformers in general, but not the latest movies, I was hoping the spinoffs would dive a bit deeper into the robots themselves. Doing a movie about Bumblebee, without all the other Autobots, feels like the right place to tell a focused, character-driven story about one of the Transformers — not yet another movie about the relationship between the humans and the robots, which is what all the Michael Bay Transformers movies are about. It’s nice that the star is a young woman this time, but I just hope the differences go beyond that.
Knight is the one saving grace here. He’s a director who has no reason to make a movie like this unless he really wants to. As the head of Laika who has a big hand in the amazing films his company makes, the only reason he’d have to devote years of his life to making a Transformers movie is if he connected with the script. So hopefully, whomever Steinfeld plays, it’s a new spin on what we’ve seen several times before. And maybe, that will include the robots getting a starring role.
The still-untitled Bumblebee movie is scheduled for release in the US 8 June 2018.