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BUMBLEBEE (Movie Review)

It's right in the thick of the shoulder-padded '80s here on good-ol' planet Earth. On the radio, the British group Tears for Fears belts out "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." But out in deep space on the war-torn planet of Cybertron, that existential musical meditation is concretely real.

In an apocalyptic confrontation, the wicked robotic Decepticons are battling for domination of their mechanized planet, and the opposing Autobot heroes are just barely holding on. In fact, things are so dire on Cybertron that the Autobot's strongest and most courageous leader, Optimus Prime, is ready to throw in the chamois towel on the whole affair.

In the midst of an ongoing explosive maelstrom of blazing lasers and disintegrating steel, Optimus turns to his most loyal lieutenant a yellow robo-battler called B-127 and sends him off to a just-discovered planet full of creatures called humans and oddly non-sentient cars and trucks. B-127 must set up base on this world, protect its inhabitants and wait for the surviving Autobots to eventually arrive.

B-127 takes flight … with a watchful Decepticon not far behind.

Sometime later on that planet called Earth, a San Francisco Bay-area teen named Charlie is in need of a car. She may look like an average, awkward teen girl clad in cool band T-shirts and sporting a head full of disheveled hair, an adolescent working part time at a local hot dog stand, but down deep she's … well, that's exactly who she is. She's nobody special. She's wresting emotionally with the recent death of her beloved dad. She's confused, impatient, and she pretty much feels adrift.

Having a car, however, could change all that. Charlie is sure of it.

So when she finds a beat-up old yellow VW at the local junkyard, and actually gets it to start, her spirits soar. The junkyard's owner even surprises her by giving the battered vehicle to her as a present on her 18th birthday.

It's when Charlie gets the chugging contraption home, however, that the real birthday surprise takes place. While trying to work on the car, it moves … on its own. It then unfolds, rises and transforms. And suddenly there's no longer a slightly damaged VW in her garage, but rather a slightly damaged yellow robot some 10 feet tall, with glowing blue eyes and buzzing circuits.

Charlie always thought that a car would change everything. Little did she know she was more right than she could ever have imagined.

And so Charlie names him … Bumblebee.

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