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The new Transformers movie is getting raves. We’ll say that again for emphasis: The new Transformers movie is getting raves.
Bumblebee is currently clocking in with a 97 percent approval rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, a shocking number given that the Michael Bay-run franchise has long been a punching bag for movie critics. By comparison, after the 2007 original Transformers scored a halfway-decent 57 percent, the subsequent sequels scored 19 percent (2009’s Revenge of the Fallen), 35 percent (2011’s Dark of the Moon), 18 percent (2014’s Age of Extinction), and 15 percent (2017’s The Last Knight).
John Cena, for one, could not be happier.
“Transformers has identified itself as a franchise based off of stylistic action and large-scale effects, which has been tremendously successful for it. Bumblebee is a redefinition of that franchise,” the wrestler-turned-actor told Yahoo Entertainment during a recent visit to our Los Angeles studios. “That’s why, especially for this movie, for this moment, I am so, so grateful that critics across the board are sending that message that ‘this is the best Transformers movie I’ve ever seen.’ I think because it’s such an about-face from what the franchise is known for. So for all you critics out there, I am so very grateful for the message you’re sending.”
A prequel set in the 1980s, Bumblebee is a more (human) character-driven story that traces the friendship between a car-loving teen (Hailee Steinfeld) and the titular yellow shapeshifter, and has shades of E.T., Short Circuit, and John Hughes’s Brat Pack movies. Cena plays the antagonist Jack Burns, a government agent on Bumblebee’s trail.
It’s the second Paramount sequel this year (after the highly touted Mission: Impossible — Fallout) to debunk the notion of franchise fatigue, the idea that audiences are starting to stay away from popular movie properties as their quality tends to continually diminish.
“I think franchise fatigue comes from the overall comfort of people making the movies going, ‘This worked, repackage, let’s do it again,’” said Cena, who noted that Bumblebee utilizes the bots’ classic “Gen 1” designs for the first time in a movie, and has a new director (with Travis Knight taking over from Bay), a female lead (Steinfeld), and a female screenwriter (Christina Hodson).
“Those are bold chances that make ‘installment whatever’ just as exciting as the first time you laid eyes on it.”
Bumblebee opens Friday. Watch the trailer:
Read more on Yahoo Entertainment: