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Bumblebee Is This Millennial’s ET

Bumblebee

Starring Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena

Directed  by  Travis   Knight

Rating: ****(4 stars)

The complex  often ridiculous relationship between  Man(or Woman) and an ExtraTerrestial Creature has been done  in  film as far-ranging as King Kong and  The  Shape  Of Water.

But none ever reached  the guileless  purity of  Steven  Speilberg’s  ET.

 Bumblebee, yanked out of the outrageously extravagant  Transformers franchise, comes close to ET’s  power  to  move  that is generally denied to sci-fi films. Never have I seen a film about machines  attacking mankind with so  much heart in. Normally this genre either overplays  the crash-and-burn card by overdoing optical  overtures, or it just goes flat on its face trying to inject  emotions into an intrinsically arid  wasteland  of humanemotionlessness.

 Bumblebee scores  big in warmth and compassion.  It’s  not  one of those complicated  super-hero spectacles, thank God! It spins a disarmingly simple yarn about the relationship that grows between  a lonely fatherless teenager Charlie(Hailee Stenfield) with serious adjustment  problems,   and an autorobot with seriously  human qualities that bowl not just Charlie over  but leave us spellbind.

The robot Bumblebee’s  body postures, its  awkward yet  endearing attempts to  “fit in” both physically and  spiritually,  give to the  narrative  a feeling of virility and  warmth. The  songs that  play in the  background  are deceptively  casual in tone. In truth each one is handpicked and thrown into the soundtrack like  a child  in  the swimmingpool from where it seeks its own emergence.

The film’s primary  USP is  the  tender  togetherness that is celebrated  between  two misfits, a pretty  earthling and a hulky  over-sized robot that transforms into a beetleVolkswagon  whenever  it, and Charlie , want to  take  a ride. In the way  the two meet and get to  know one another and in the way songs from the 1960s , 70s  and  80s pitch the narrative  to  just the right tone  and texture  of a welcoming joyride, Bumblebee is just the film you’d want to  start 2019  with.

The journey, as Charlie takes charge  of her alien visitor, never  stops being charming yet relevant. We could  have done   without  the  machinations of scientists at  space-research centre who seem  to follow an incredibly crude and unscientific trail  and who  seem to know as much about their  alien visitors as we do.   But then ignorance is a  good place  to start a journey into selfawareness,

 This  is Charlie’s  travel into the world of adulthood.Her companion is a beetle car which seems to protect hear  against  malevolence. That the  gambit  pays  off, is entirely a matter of  alchemy. Who knows  how the American  sci-fi turns  out. This one  actually breathes easy and allows  the drama  to grow on its own.

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