The APAHM Project Day 16: Bumblebee
Director: Travis Knight
Where to watch it: Hulu
Why it made the list:
It may seem that this film was chosen because it stars Hailee Steinfeld who is 1/8 Filipino on her mother’s side. However, I initially thought to choose this film because it was written by Christina Hodson, who is a British Taiwanese screenwriter also known for “Birds of Prey” and the upcoming “The Flash” movie (I also really need to double check people’s nationalities before I make these lists).
When I was in middle school, I loved the Transformers movies. I think it’s safe to say the first and second ones are the best ones. So after years of so-so and just plain not good Transformers movies, it was great to see a good, fun film like “Bumblebee” that wasn’t just flexing their technology in sound and VFX.
I attended a San Diego Comic-Con panel (the same one where I met Jennifer Yuh Nelson) where Christina Hodson was a panelist and spoke about writing “Bumblebee” and I remember being excited that it was written by a woman and an Asian one at that.
I’m not entirely sure if Hodson put so much of herself in the main character Charlie (Steinfeld) but I wouldn’t be surprised if she did. Hodson describes the film as two souls who are a little broken and finding themselves through each other. The film actually kind of reminded me of “Abominable” in the sense that these two girls lost their dad’s, find a hobby to keep their memory alive, meet an unknown creature and care for it, and along the way rediscover who they are.
Additionally, I don’t know if because of Hodson’s involvement and her background that they decided to cast Steinfeld, however I doubt it since not many people even know of Steinfeld’s Asian heritage. But I think Steinfeld did a great job in this film as in previous films I had seen her in she played characters I didn’t really care for, so it was nice to see her in something a little more emotional and fun.
Does it deserve to stay on the list:
This was my first time watching this film, and I was very pleased with it. I liked seeing Bumblebee’s backstory and he reminded me a lot of Baymax from “Big Hero 6.” This is a fun and heart-warming film to watch. It had great music choices, a nice 80’s style, homage to the old Transformer’s show, and overall just a really great story. The plot was not anything revolutionary, but I think the emphasis on this film is the relationship Charlie has with her family and Bumblebee. Even though the AAPI tie is small, I think it’s a good example of what can be achieved when you put the right people in decision making positions. The best way to have diverse stories is to have diverse voices telling them. I haven’t seen “Birds of Prey” yet, but I am interested to see it and “The Flash” and really am just excited to see a woman writing “male” genre films like Transformers and comic book movies.