Upcoming Transformers Film, Bumblebee, Echoes Christmas Themes
The latest Transformers entry echoes Advent while continuing the series trend of otherworldly conflict come to earth.
Since 2007, the Transformers film franchise has served as a silver screen parable for spiritual conflict and gospel truth. Powerful, otherworldly entities arrive on earth in disguise. The harmony of their once heavenly home world is but a lingering memory.
These angelic Autobots and demonic Decepticons clash for control over our world. Amidst this battle, a remnant of humanity encounters them. Sides are chosen and two worlds hang in the balance.
The latest entry in the series continues this trend with echoes of Advent. Bumblebee, out Friday, details the Autobots arrival. It’s The Iron Giant, filtered through classic 80’s films like E.T. and The Goonies.
The Advent of an Autobot
Having lost their home planet of Cybertron, Autobot Leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) sends Bumblebee to Earth for refuge. Arriving to immediate danger in the California wilderness, the young Autobot flees from the military. Eventually, he is encountered by a teen named Charlie (Hailee Stienfeld).
On the cusp of adulthood, Charlie struggles to live her new normal. The recent loss of her father to a heart attack lingers in her world. Now she works alone to restore her father’s classic Corvette with parts from a local junkyard.
On her birthday, Charlie receives a rundown Volkswagen Beetle-esque car from the junkyard owner. She soon realizes that there is something more to her new wheels: a visitor on a mission of cosmic consequences. She allies with Bumblebee to hide him from those hunting him.
Nothing New Under the California Sun
In many ways, Bumblebee mirrors the first Transformers film. It’s the story of a teen’s first car, and a quasi-first romance. This romance is far more innocent and subdued, sans the bawdy humor of previous films.
Charlie comes in contact with Bumblebee until his capture. Desperate to mount a rescue, she draws family and friends into the adventure. To save Bumblebee and her home Charlie confronts the Decepticons atop a large structure, as Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) did in Transformers.
In the same vein, Bumblebee evokes films like E.T. and The Goonies. A child/teen character is front and center. Bumblebee embodies E.T.’s elements of unexpected friendship.
The “suburban adventure” vibe of The Goonies feels baked right into the story. Even down to younger siblings and bike chases. As a bonus, an homage to the 1986 Transformers: The Movie is perfectly placed as a nod to longtime fans.
A Prime Christ Figure
In Bumblebee, an overlooked teen girl is drawn into a cosmic conflict while our world remains largely unaware. A lone Autobot heralds the coming of one that will change the world, Optimus Prime. In this way, Bumblebee bolsters Prime’s role as a Christ figure in the series.
Optimus undergoes a “water baptism” before revealing himself in Transformers. His sacrifice and resurrection come later, in Revenge of the Fallen. Set 30 years before, Prime’s arrival in Bumblebee echoes the timeframe and events in Christ’s story.
Bumblebee not only echoes aspects of the biblical narrative, but Max Lucado’s Cosmic Christmas as well. Lucado’s story is a fantastic take on the Angel Gabriel’s role heralding the birth of Jesus. In both Bumblebee and Cosmic Christmas, the main characters overcome intense opposition to complete their missions.
In this season, a tale about giant robots echoes the Christmas story. I’d say that qualifies as “more than meets the eye” amidst a series often heavy on flash and light on substance.