Is Bumblebee a prequel or a reboot?

bumblebee is a quiet and yellow transformer bot
Everyone’s favorite Transformer Bot.

Prequel or reboot. Or, soft-reboot — whatever that is.  Just where does Bumblebee fit in the Transformers universe?

Officially, Bumblebee is a prequel, set in 1987. But when you watch the movie you better wear your best retcon glasses, because there’s a lot that just can’t fit with the story we already know. For instance: in the first 2007 Transformers, Sector 7 discovers the existence of Transformers (from the Beagle 2 Rover camera footage three years earlier). So, there’s that. And obviously, there’s no reference to Bumblebee’s 20 years of experience here on Earth.

[pullquote]The news is that Paramount and Hasbro would like to build a shared cinematic universe around Transformers, G.I. Joe, and maybe even pull in the Micronauts and Visionaries.[/pullquote]

This is an ongoing issue that all franchises face. It’s very easy for them to collapse under their own limitations. I’m not sure why anyone is even debating the issue. It isn’t like all the Transformer movies up to now aren’t already forgettable.  Just sweep them under the rug and start over.

All of the previous Transformer movies clearly tried to be gigantic ensemble high-stakes epics. (That’s what Michael Bay does.) [pullquote position=”right”]What Marvel taught us is it’s best to lead up to that ensemble epic with a few stories that build the foundation first.[/pullquote]

Maybe they are taking the same approach with Bumblebee, to start small and build up to an epic. We’re on-board.

Movie Review – Bumblebee

Review: Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen

Movie Review – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

 

Movie Review - Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelwaldI don’t know what happened with this movie. It looked great from the trailers, and seemed like the story would make sense. The film itself, though, was a big beautiful mess. I’m not even sure what I saw.

I’m essentially a Harry Potter expert. I’ve read the books dozens of times, seen the movies even more, visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and traveled to places filmed on location in both London and Scotland. I belong to a Harry Potter Meetup group, and have different wizard outfits, cobbled together over the years. I’ve made wands. Blah blah blah. All this to make it clear when I say I don’t understand Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. It’s a painful feeling.

It’s not even just me. I went with a fellow wizard friend, and he was disappointed and lost too. After the film, we tried to figure out what the movie was about, why the characters did the things they did, and were both just puzzled.

I saw the movie in IMAX at a select early screening with reserved tickets in a packed theater. Everyone there was a big HP fan, ready to have an exciting time. The audience started out applauding and cheering when different things occurred onscreen, like seeing Dumbledore, during the Hogwarts scene, when different creatures showed up, and when certain early secrets were revealed. However, as the movie wore on, the audience got more and more quiet. By the end, you could hear a pin drop. There was no final applause, which spoke volumes in its silence. People filed out with no fanfare or excitement. Basically, JK Rowling’s biggest fanbase seemed alienated.

I’ll probably see this a few more times in the theater — and it really is a pretty piece of work. I hope to figure out what the plot was about and why the characters did the things they did. I’m positive I’ll have better things to say about this film then. But in the meantime, I’ll say this: if I couldn’t follow the weird, convoluted, and very messy narrative told here, I doubt the casual fan will know what to make of it.

UPDATED OPINION: I saw this a second time and have a somewhat different review and grade for it in mind. I ‘m thinking a solid B now. My first experience was spent taking an intense amount of notes for RunPee and I missed a lot of what transpired. This is the kind of film you really can’t be distracted for. (Don’t make Peetimes kids, if you like movies!) I enjoyed my second viewing, but still stand by my original take — this sequel is problematic.

Grade: B (Updated)

About The Peetimes: I attended a premier showing before the film officially opened. (I had to drink my hoarded Felix Felicis Potion to get this ticket.) While this is great news for RunPee fans, I will admit this was the hardest movie ever for me to get Peetimes. The film moves at a breakneck pace, with too many characters — many of whom were brand new and didn’t make any sense in the film. I added 2 Peetimes, in any case. The 1st is better, at 39 minutes in. The 2nd, at 1:16 will also serve. Neither of these scenes have any interesting action or fantastic beasts.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Why Fantastic Beasts 2 is not so Fantastic

A Quiet Place – RunPee Jilly’s Movie Review (with SPOILERS)

I thoroughly enjoyed A Quiet Place, even though I can’t stomach horror movies. Thank Thor RunPee Sis craves those films, or I don’t think we’d have Peetimes for them. But, you know what? [pullquote]A Quiet Place isn’t really straight-up horror — or more accurately, it’s a sub-unit of such: scary suspense. [/pullquote]And those are perfectly fine viewing for movie-goers who don’t enjoy being frightened witless, or mentally disturbed after bedtime. I can do suspense.  After all, Alien  and Signs are among my favorite films. Take heart, and see this movie if you’re unsure.

Silence. Shhhhh. Both showings I attended were dead quiet — the hearing-a-pin-drop kind. When one person rustled their bag for popcorn, the room en mass shot dirty looks at the unwitting assailant. I’ve since read this spontaneously happened across theaters every night, every time. [pullquote position=”right”]One person directly in front of me made two near-silent coughs and took herself right out of there. Good call. We might have just as silently killed her for it. Such was the magic of attending this kind of movie, a rare theater-only experience.[/pullquote] (Only films like Avatar, Titanic, and  the first Jurassic Park are really the main theater related “experiences” I can offhand recall.)

If this was an art-film made to showcase a dialog and soundtrack-free production, or an old-timey silent film, I wouldn’t be interested. The only things I could previously appreciate was a silent (and also scary) TV episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer — the enchanting episode called Hush. As it was, I was entirely, and enjoyably, gripped by A Quiet Place.

Our only exposition are the many news clippings tacked on basement walls, things panned too quickly to really read. Are the aliens Death Angels of God? Aliens from a Meteorite? Subterranean creatures from a cave in Mexico? It’s enough. It doesn’t matter. More important are the words scrawled on the family white board: THEY HUNT BY SOUND. THEY ARE ARMORED. Local Area has (3) confirmed.

That’s all one needs for the story, and we’ve guessed most of that by this point.

Like in Signs by M. Night Shylaman, we get a one-family take on a War of the Worlds theme, and it really works. The stakes are upped — as we see by the nightly lighting of fire beacons, there may only be small pockets of humanity left. We’re talking a few local outposts with the intelligence and ingenuity to live in silence indefinitely.

And more pointedly, we see up close several reasons WHY this family does so well. There’s a well-equipped barnhouse bunker as a birthing room and sanctuary, and a sound-proofed box for their soon-to-be squalling baby, equipped with working oxygen supplies. There’s enough tools and sundries for any end-of-the-world scenario. Who needs zombies when you have this?

Outside the bunker, the family knows to walk barefoot and not make sounds in surprise or pain. All common pathways outside are deeply lined with sand, any squeaking steps in the house are clearly marked for avoidance, and red lights are strung about to announce an attack. The father keeps loud rockets in his pockets to draw off intruders. He knows you can speak under a waterfall, how to set traps for fish, and where to forage in the empty towns for supplies he can’t make himself.

He also, almost too fortunately,  knows how to construct high-tech hearing aids. [pullquote]And this is also where A Quiet Place treads too close to Signs, where the daughter has an extremely fortunate habit of leaving undrank glasses of water everywhere in the house. In A Quiet Place, it’s all about a coincidentally “different” daughter again.[/pullquote] Their daughter was deaf and the family knew sign language? Impressively useful. How convenient the father kept tinkering with better hearing devices?  Yeah, yeah. But you know what — in the entire world, surely this scenario would occur somewhere. We just follow the family that has it going on.  While it’s less comedic (read: never) than Signs, it’s a story that actually makes more sense.

So they’ve got things mostly covered. It sounds…doable. They manage for at least a few years. And that’s where things get going, in deadly earnest. In spite of all their planning, Emily Blunt’s character breaks her water early. She’s alone in an unsound-proofed area, in a tremendous state of pain and terror. We remember (from the prologue) that the family was used to grabbing pain killers from an empty pharmacy. But then, more than a year goes by. Blunt’s character didn’t take any pills when her contraction begins and never gets the chance later. That’s a difficult enough birth under normal circumstances.

But her suffering has to be silent; absolutely so. No moaning, screaming, nor normal crying. She bleeds out in a bathtub with an lethal alien crawling about the room. This is gripping storytelling. I went in a second time to watch this scene, because Blunt portrays her character’s experience entirely, compellingly, with only eyes and expressions. Her hands grip her womb, seemingly to keep the baby safely inside, or push it out quickly, to somehow protect her baby from the consequences of its first cry.

This is one versatile actress. Remember when Blunt’s big debut was as a supporting break-out character – that self-absorbed mean-spirited assistant from The Devil Wears Prada? Her main goal in life was eating just enough cheese cubes to keep from passing out (the better to carry off size 00 couture from Paris). Her smaller roles became leads, including an aggressively skilled warrior in Edge of Tomorrow, and a pathetic, grief-stricken soul from Girl On A Train. These are wildly diverging roles she carried off with deftness and verve.

In A Quiet Place, there aren’t great set-pieces or sparkling dialog to carry the film. It doesn’t offer much in the way of visuals, either.  (It’s a somewhat claustrophobic movie, as a clearly Hitchcockian-inspired flick would be.)  Blunt shoulders nearly the entire movie with no more than a few words of wistful, pain-wracked regret. These rare lines don’t serve to propel the action or plot: they’re just quiet moments of drama.

John Trasinski (as the father that is – directorially he’s superb) does a fine job too, but this isn’t his movie. His character’s climactic sacrifice, however, lends a tragically necessary gravity to the story. Life ends, life begins. There’s no happy ending, just the reality of survival.

The denouement confused me at first. As they watched their land’s video cameras, I thought the rest of the family was about to be overwhelmed and snuffed out. Talking about it among the RunPee family showed me it’s actually a thread of hope. Now that this family knows how to kill the aliens, they can wipe out the local pocket (two more left) of intruders. They can reach out the the local families (right, as seen by bonfire) and show them how to do that too. And from there, hope for what’s left of humanity can spread. I’d watch that sequel.

Which leads me to announcing there is a sequel, or maybe a prequel in the works. The Quiet-Verse has lots of stories to tell. If there’s a franchise to be had here, I can only hope all involved want to craft any subsequent movies as perfectly as they did this one. Earning a rare A+, all a normally reluctant horror-phone can say is:  see this film.

Movie Grade: A+

RunPee Dan’s (Unspoiled) Review of A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place 2 Announced

 

 

A Quiet Place 2 Announced

Shhhhhhhh. No, really, don’t make a sound. Not even when we announce that A Quiet Place has a sequel scheduled already! (Confirmed by Paramount.)

A Quiet Place offers an interesting concept for movie-going – people constantly report that their theaters were dead silent. Through the whole movie. [pullquote]Apparently this is a great cinematic experience and not to be missed. I’d call this film a sleeper hit.[/pullquote]

Right on the heels of the surprise rise of A Quiet Place, Den Of Geek reports A Quiet Place 2 is in the works already. They say the story could continue where it left off, or could be about another family entirely.  There are many options to explore in the Quiet-verse.

How do you live, when your life depends on total silence? Could you do it? Even clicking the keys on my laptop makes sound. I have a fan on as I work: Alexa belts out my morning playlist. The coffeepot gurgles, percolating, while the dog barks and whines, begging for bacon that pops and sizzles on the stove. I take all this for granted.

Our spoiler free review of A Quiet Place gives this film an A, and reports the tone is more like a cross between Alien and Signs (both being top notch films). RunPee Creator Dan says, “[pullquote position=”right”]Every scene felt like it was hand crafted, over and over, until it was perfected. There isn’t a wasted second in a single scene.[/pullquote]”. My spoiler-full review awards A Quiet Place a rare A+ ( I was slightly more impressed).

With the care, commitment, and attention to detail by the director, cast, cast and crew, we can hope any sequels or prequels will add to the richness of this dystopia, and not just toss out a trashy cash cow.

Want more details on the sequel? CinemaBlend provides some details with major spoilers in the article, while Emily Blunt and John Krasinski discuss what they know and how they feel in this clip:

A Quiet Place Review – No Spoilers

A Quiet Place Review – With Spoilers