Ever since launching the blockbuster franchise back in 2007, Michael Bay has been inextricably associated with ‘Transformers’. His style and sensibilities have so defined the live action films that fans have even taken to referring to them as “Bayformers.” But after ten years and five movies, Paramount is beginning to broaden the franchise in a manner inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even if Bay hadn’t already been looking to scale back his involvement, the sheer amount of work involved with a shared cinematic universe would by itself necessitate an infusion of new talent and perspectives.
Enter ‘Bumblebee: The Movie’ a spinoff focusing on the titular Autobot in the years before Bay’s first ‘Transformers’ movie, the film marks the beginning of the series’ expansion and also the first time a director other than Bay has taken the helm of a live action ‘Transformers’ installment. This time around, the directing chores will fall to Travis Knight, best known for animated projects such as ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’. Speaking to Cinema Blend, Knight explained how he expects to distinguish his film from Bay’s installments:
“I wanted to approach this massive, expansive franchise and really focus in on a tiny corner of the canvas. Everything I’ve tried to do at Laika, searching for an artful blend of darkness and light, intensity and warmth, humor and heart, I wanted to bring to the ‘Transformers’ franchise.”
I’ve heard a lot of words used to describe Michael Bay’s work, but I can honestly say that “artful” has never been one of them. But whatever one thinks of the prior ‘Transformers’ films (or of Bay’s directing, for that matter) the franchise can only benefit from opening itself up to new approaches.
Directed by Travis Knight, ‘Bumblebee: The Movie’ stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Peter Cullen, Pamela Adlon, Jorge Lendenborg Jr., Rachel Crow, and Abby Quinn. The film is due to arrive in theaters on December 21, 2018.