Story

Bumblebee is the sixth in a series of movies based on the Transformers franchise from the 1980s, and is a prequel to the 2007 Transformers movie. Young Transformer robot B-127 (Bumblebee) escapes a fierce war on the planet of Cybertronand seeks refuge on Earth. His mission is to safeguard Earth until other Transformers can join him.

When B-127 arrives on Earth, it’s 1987. A secret military group assumes that he’s hostile, so they chase and try to destroy him. While trying to escape them, B-127 is also pursued by an enemy robot, the Decepticon Blitzwing. Blitzwing has followed B-127 to Earth to find the location of transformer leader Optimus Prime. When B-127 refuses to disclose this information, Blitzwing rips out B-127’s vocal processor and damages his memory core. B-127 camouflages himself as a cute, yellow 1967 Volkswagen beetle.

Meanwhile on Earth, teenager Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfield) is grieving the death of her late father. Charlie is an outcast and deals with her grief by trying to repair the car she was working on with her father before he died. One day Charlie is in a scrap yard hunting for parts, and she comes across the little yellow VW beetle (Bumblebee) and accidentally activates his communication signal. The signal is picked up all the way across the galaxy on Cybertron and notifies the enemy Decepticons of Bumblebee’s location. Charlie convinces the scrap yard owner to let her take the beetle home.

In Charlie’s garage, the car transforms into Bumblebee’s robot form, and Charlie and Bumblebee become fast and loyal friends. Little do they know that two Decepticons, Shatterand Dropkick,have arrived on Earth and have tricked the military into believing that they’re on a peacekeeping mission. The military allow them to access the Earth’s satellite system to locate Bumblebee. Charlie and Bumblebee must avoid capture and try to thwart the Decepticons’ evil plans to take over and destroy Earth.

Themes

Robots; aliens; war; 1980s nostalgia; death of a parent; grief; family; friendship; refugees

Violence

Bumblebee has frequent violence. For example:

  • There are frequent CGI-animated battle action sequences, both between Transformers and between Transformers and humans. The battle scenes include weapons, gunfire and hand-to-hand combat in which Transformers to slash or cut things.
  • When the violence is between robotic creatures, they get injured but there’s no blood.
  • The violence in this movie seems to have no real-life consequences. Although there’s a lot of fighting and gunfire, there are no dead or gory injured bodies.
  • The violence in this movie sometimes has a cartoon-like quality, making it seem less serious than it is. For example, robots twice point their guns directly at a human at close range and shoot the human. The humans are liquefied and explode into a pool of slime.
  • There are frequent violent verbal threats. For example, characters point a gun at someone and say, ‘Destroy!’ or ‘We have 100 guns pointed at you’.
  • Bumblebee is strung up by his arms, in a scene that looks like a torture scene. Two other robots beat him.
  • A large military officer picks up Charlie and throws her violently to the ground.
  • A tall building on Cybertron is bombed, and it collapses in flames.

Sexual references

Bumblebee has some very mild romantic and sexual references. For example:

  • A teenage boy takes off his shirt, and the girls around him watch and look at him suggestively.
  • Memo has a crush on Charlie. He keeps trying to work up the courage to ask her out on a date, hold her hand or kiss her.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

Bumblebee has some mild nudity and sexual activity. For example, a teenage boy twice takes off his shirt.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in Bumblebee: Volkswagen, Pop tarts and Weightwatchers.

Coarse language

Bumblebee has some coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Bumblebee is a fast-paced action movie, but the central relationship between teenage outcast Charlie and the endearing Bumblebee gives it a lot of heart. Charlie is a strong and interesting female lead character, who shows a lot more compassion and intelligence than many of the adults around her.

Bumblebee is likely to appeal to younger children and tweens. But this movie has a lot of cartoon-like violence that seems to have no real-life consequences, and this could have a desensitising effect on children. For this reason, the movie isn’t recommended for children under 13 years. Adults might enjoy the movie’s 1980s nostalgic feel, featuring great cars and a fabulous soundtrack.

You should be aware that Bumblebee was originally rated M, but it was modified and reclassified as PG. It’s important to note that the movie still retains much of the violence that originally earned it the M rating. You should also be aware that two versions of the movie have now been released – one is rated M, and the other is rated PG. In addition, when the movie is released on DVD and digital, it’ll probably be the M rated version.

The main messages from Bumblebee are that good can overcome evil, and that we can conquer our inner fears.

Values in Bumblebee that you could reinforce with their children include courage, teamwork, family and friendships.

Bumblebee could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like the following:

  • What does it mean when there’s a lot of fighting and violence, but nobody seems to get hurt? Is that realistic?
  • How can we prepare if aliens land on Earth?
  • How can you handle and process grief?