A new full-length trailer has arrived for Transformers spin-off Bumblebee – slated for a December 21 release date – giving us a proper look at what to expect from the ’80s-throwback film starring Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge of Seventeen) and John Cena, and directed by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings). It’s the first spin-off in the Transformers series, the first to not have ‘Transformers’ in the title, the first to not be directed by Michael Bay, and also the first to release in the winter months.
The new Bumblebee trailer opens in San Francisco and introduces Charlie Watson (Steinfeld) who picks up a dusty old yellow Volkswagen Beetle on her eighteenth birthday. As soon as she’s back in her home garage, the car turns into the robot fans know and love, but Watson doesn’t. “What are you?,” she wonders. Pretty soon, Watson and her friend Memo (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) are enjoying the driverless benefits of her new Beetle, while being hunted by a government agency known as Sector 7, led by Agent Burns (Cena).
Cue a couple of cute moments of Bumblebee and Watson together, two Decepticons showing off their transformation skills and informing Burns and his men of “a war raging on their planet”, and some fast-moving action sequences that seem to have the potential to make some people sick, especially in IMAX 3D. Peter Cullen is back to voice Optimus Prime as well, noting that Bumblebee “must protect Earth and its people” to end the war.
Since its 2007 beginnings, Transformers has been a massive financial success for Paramount Pictures, bringing in $4.38 billion in ticket sales alone worldwide across the five chapters. Critically, the films have never fared well, with the original being the highest with 57 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a 61 score on Metacritic, while everything else has been panned more or less.
Bumblebee represents a different approach for the studio, but whether it will be more than just metal mayhem remains to be seen. Knight’s directorial debut Kubo – done entirely in stop-motion – was critically acclaimed and much loved, but so much also depends on Bumblebee’s story and screenplay, which involves Christina Hodson (Shut In, Unforgettable) and Kelly Fremon Craig (The Edge of Seventeen).
In addition to Steinfeld, Cena, and Lenderborg Jr., the Transformers spin-off also stars John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Rachel Crow, Abby Quinn, Gracie Dzienny, Ricardo Hoyos, Kenneth Choi, Stephen Schneider, and Rory Markham. Angela Bassett, Justin Theroux, David Sobolov, Jess Harnell, and Martin Short voice different Transformers.