More Than Meets The Eye
The new Bumblebee film doesn’t come out until later this year, but it’s already propelling Transformers fans back in time.
A new trailer for the movie not only features Shockwave, Soundwave, Ravage, Starscream, and Optimus Prime, but director Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) features them in their original 1980s designs.
Here’s a breakdown of all the old-school references in the Dec. 21 movie.
Bumblebee himself harkens back to the original Volkswagen Beetle design that made the character adorable back in the day. Knight returns him to that compact VW Bug form, proving that a giant alien robot can also be cuddly and heartwarming. Still, there’s a reason they also call those cars “Punchbugs.”
The movie aims for an Iron Giant/E.T. vibe, with an injured Bumblebee hiding with the help of new human friend Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), who helps him recover his memories and complete his secret mission.
Atticus Finch in robot form — that’s how the pater familias of the Autobots always seemed.
In Bumblebee, he is restored to his block-chested original appearance, with Peter Cullen, who originated the voice in the 1984 cartoon, returning once again to give Optimus his stentorian tone.
We don’t see him take the shape of the flat-faced Freightliner of the G1 Hasbro toy, but smart money says he will.
Shockwave ... and Starscream?
In the 1980s carton, this cyclops stayed behind to rule the robot world of Cybertron when Megatron and his crew ventured to Earth to battle the Autobots for our planet’s energy supply.
He was merciless and logical, not given to Megatron’s dramatics, and in this glimpse of the robot civil war in the trailer, we see him flanked by Seekers — the Deception jets who serve as their special forces unit.
The one to his left looks a lot like Starscream, the double-crosser who always believed he would be a superior leader for their movement.
In the background of that previous shot, we also see a mix of Seeker designs that include the “coneheads,” like Ramjet and Dirge, whose heads were framed by a nosecone helmet.
Another shot of the robot war from the trailer includes the seekers in their true Cybertronian form, taking the shape of pyramid-like fighters — which is also a reference to the 1980s cartoon.
Pretty much every original Transformers fan had this bad guy, Soundwave, the monotoned spymaster who took the shape of a Sony Walkman and dispatched “tapes” in the form of animal robots to monitor the Autobots. Here he is again with his tapedeck chest….
… which opens up to launch out — a tape! Actually, in this case, it’s more like a robot folded up into the shape of a suitcase. But still, we haven’t seen this form of the character on the big screen since 1987 (which, not coincidentally, is when Bumblebee is set).
Ravage ... ATTACK!
The “tape” unfolds into the snarling robotic jaguar known as Ravage, who prowls into attack mode with his hip-mounted rockets swaying on either side of him.
The jet who drags Bumblebee across the desert is another Decepticon seeker known as Blitzwing. In the original Hasbro designs, this robot earned his name because he was a Triple Changer, who could shift from robot form to a jet to a tank. Knight says we will only see him as a fighter jet, however …
The two other major Decepticon villains will be Triple Changers. To the left, Angela Bassett’s Shatter is a Harrier Jet coming in for a landing, while Justin Theroux’s Dropkick is a Bell AH-1 Supercorba attack helicopter.
Shatter and Dropkick
Then Shatter morphs from a Harrier into a dust-spewing, candy-apple-red Plymouth Satellite, and Dropkick takes the form of a midnight blue AMC Javelin. In this scene both muscle cars speed toward a rendezvous with human military leaders.
Foes Disguised As Friends
At this point in 1987, the American military doesn’t know Autobots from Decepticons, so while Bumblebee remains undercover, these two make nice with the local Earth authorities and say they are on the hunt for a dangerous fugitive.
Shatter on the Hunt
We know better, of course. The robot who does a backward flip into the form of a jet is Shatter, who is zeroing in on Charlie and Bumblebee. Expect more 1980s and Generation 1 references to reveal themselves as the Dec. 21 debut of Bumblebee draws closer.