Everyone rates this new Transformers movie highly but, honestly, it’s easy when comparing it to the Bayverse versions. This is true but it doesn’t really equate to Bumblebee being a great flick, just because they went back to basics.
The introductory scene on Cybertron IS an absolute delight to fans of the TF toy franchise, of course. The faces and forms are familiar, even with the modernized look. A bit video game-y, like it could have been a cutscene in the first person shooter campaigns but still totally stunning for the hardcore crowd. There’s less G1 references to come after that but they dropped the ball on naming the Decepticons. The three that were in the forefront were not identified. Even the single Autobot got to repeat his name a couple of times but Blitzwing, Shatter and Dropk were not given the chance. Why is that? It’s basic storytelling. Could possibly be good because we could have the triplechanger Blitzwing make a return next time while Shatter and Dropkick, not having G1 counterparts, are fine as their own entities. Everybody starting with English was just strange though.
The rest of the film is actually a boy and his dog story, done as a girl and her companion. The plot is quite simple, even cartoon-ish but they captured the human element of relatability. Easier to engage the audience, especially since they did Bumblebee a disservice.
Yeah, they upped the cuteness factor by regressing Bumblebee himself, making him more loveable as opposed to grooming him to be hip. The smaller, cuddlier, sillier Bee is adorable to watch as he struggled and bumbled around. He was a huge puppy. But they had to damage him to make him this approachable. No ultra violence for him until it was needed. This rendered him as a plot device, his losing his voice even more so. It’s possible to flesh out a character's personality without speech, as evidenced by Pixar's own silent-ish trash compactor, but Bee didn’t get to develop enough. He could have pulled an Iron Giant when he was finally allowed to unleash his aggression but, no, they didn’t go that way. It was a step back in advancing Bumblebee's depth but it can only go forward, if the franchise goes this way.
And hopefully they do. They succeeded in seeding bits for a revamped movieverse but also keeping the Bayverse elements intact if they decide not to branch away from that timeline. Bumblebee, as a character, might be considered a prop but he has a spark of heart, hopefully one that ignites explosively to revitalize the Transformers film series.