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Transformers trivia: ‘Bumblebee’

By: - Staff Writer
/ 12:00 PM January 09, 2019

So the sixth “Transformers” live-action film, “Bumblebee” has just taken the Space Bridge to Philippine cinemas, and it’s got diehard TF fans into a frenzy. From across the universe, here is the ultimate collection of trivia about the newest TF movie. At the very end, we will discuss whether it’s a prequel or a soft reboot, but SUPER SPOILERS ahead on every level:

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The opening scene is set on Cybertron, but it’s a different Cybertron, particularly what we saw in 2017’s “Transformers: The Last Knight.” This Cybertron is clearly a functioning city, with architecture and working lights, not the bleak wasteland of the Bayverse.

The opening scene battle is very reminiscent of 2010 game “Transformers: War for Cybertron,” particularly with the Autobots and Decepticons looking fairly G1-ish in their robot mode but with otherworldly, Cybertronian alt modes.

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The first scene is also thematically a callback to the first episode of the 1984 “The Transformers” TV show, animated by Sunbow. That episode featured two Autobots, Bumblebee and Wheeljack, encountering the Decepticon Seeker jets as well as Soundwave.

Ratchet makes an appearance looking very much like his G1 self, finned helmet and all, looking very different from the Ratchet we see in 2007’s “Transformers.” He is voiced by Dennis Singletary.

The female Autobot Arcee is in the thick of the battle as well, again, designed to look like her G1—and the IDW—version. She is voiced by Grey Griffin.

The Minibot Brawn is voiced by Kirk Bailey. Like his appearance in 1986’s “The Transformers: The Movie,” he is hit badly on the arm by Decepticon fire. Fans are debating whether or not he is killed in this scene.

Though he has no lines, Autobot security director Ironhide can clearly be seen getting into an escape pod. Like his design twin Ratchet, he looks nothing like the 2007 Bayverse version and instead looks like the original Sunbow design.

Autobot scientist Wheeljack has one line—“There’s too many of them” (super nerds will know that line is straight out of 1983’s “Stars Wars: Episide VI—Return of the Jedi”). He looks very much like the IDW revamp, which is essentially a modernized G1 look. The light-up “ears” are right out of the Sunbow cartoon, something carried on by succeeding animated series. Wheeljack is actually supposed to have appeared in the third live-action film, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” but that version, which does not survive, is called Que instead. He is voiced here by Steven Blum.

Cliffjumper looks very similar to this Sunbow design. He is voiced by Andrew Morgado. He survives the initial battle but is tracked down by Decepticon Triplechangers Shatter and Dropkick. He is tortured but refuses to give up the location of Optimus Prime. When B-127’s beacon is activated, the Triplechangers have no more use for him and Dropkick executes Cliffjjumper by splitting him into two. This death is considered by TF fans as a bit of a cruel in-joke as Cliffjumper has been killed several times, the most notorious case was on the TV show “Transformers: Prime,” when he was voiced by pro wrestling star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

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The Autobots are led as ever by the heroic Optimus Prime, voiced, as ever by Peter Cullen. His design is the biggest departure from the Bayverse version. He looks like a mix of his iconic G1 truck-chest front and the boxier “War for Cybertron” design. The sequence that has Prime shooting Decepticons by running through the frontline is inspired by his arrival on Earth in the 1986 animated movie.

Most of the pursuing Decepticons are of the Seeker jet designs. You can make out the three main jets, Starscream (red), Thundercracker (blue) and Skywarp (purple—he doesn’t survive the battle). There are others of the same design in the background, some of them with the “Coneheads” design—their heads topped by the jet nosecones. The alt mode for these Seekers is a stylized version of the futuristic “Tetrajet” seen in the first episode of the original animated series.

Behind the Autobots in the escape scene is a flash of Teletraan 1, the Autobot computer from the original animated series.

“Get to the tower!” This is Optimus Prime’s command; the tower the Autobots escape from is clearly the Iacon tower from Pat Lee’s “Transformers” series from Dreamwave.

Soundwave

Decepticon communications officer Soundwave appears, looking very much like the G1/”War for Cybertron” design. “Decepticons attack,” he commands, in a digitized voiced that is very similar to that originated by Frank Welker in the original Sunbow show. Here he is voiced by Jon Bailey.

Soundwave’s other line: “Ravage, attack!” Out of his chest springs the Decepticon Jaguar Ravage. This is a clear reference to the G1 Soundwave and his cassette minions—Ravage looks much more like his G1 self than the monstrous robo-jaguar of the Bayverse.

Shockwave

The one-eyed Decepticon leader Shockwave orders his troops forward: “Destroy the launch pad! Let none escape!” Like Soundwave, he is voiced by Jon Bailey in homage to the G1 Sunbow cartoon voice Corey Burton. And yes, the sound effect for his arm cannon is the same as Megatron’s fusion cannon from the cartoon.

Agent Burns

Bumblebee with battle mask

B-127 is the movie’s original name for Bumblebee. Yes, he winds up having the same nickname “Bee” on both planets. He appears very similar to his appearance in the 2007 live-action film, just a little more Cybertron-y. He is voiced by Dylan O’Brian (“The Maze Runner”) but not for long. He loses his voice box in a battle with Blitzwing once he arrives on Earth. This is the battle that Autobot medic Ratchet describes in the 2007 film explaining why Bumblebee can only talk through bits of screen dialogue and music. In the 2007 movie, he has already mastered that. Here, he will learn how to do it with the help of Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld). It is Charlie who dubs him Bumblebee. He bears the battle helmet, handcannon and sword from his Bayverse incarnation. In fact, Bumblebee is the only character in the movie who is more or less faithful to his Bayverse live-action version. When he arrives on Earth and encounters Agent Jack Burns (the other pro wrestler involved in TF, John Cena), he tries to escape by taking the form of a military jeep. While the jeep is the yellow Bumblebee color, it is clearly an Easter egg—it’s referring to the alt mode of 1984 original Autobot “Ark” crew member Hound, who transforms into a Mitsubishi CJ-3B jeep. In the Bayverse, Hound is much bigger and transforms into various armored vehicles and is voiced by John Goodman. When he runs out of juice, Bumblebee scans the most convenient vehicle around him before going into alt mode lock. That vehicle is his most iconic mode: The Volkswagen Beetle Type 1. He spends most of “Bumblebee” in this mode. At the end of the movie, as he says goodbye to Charlie, he scans a yellow-and-black 1977 Chevy Camaro, which is his alt mode when we first see him in the 2007 live-action movie.

Blitzwing

Which brings us to Blitzwing. In the comics and toys, Blitzwing is always a Triplechanger. In this movie, he becomes the first Decepticon to catch Bumblebee on Earth. Blitzwing is clearly dressed in the familiar red livery of Starscream and is shaped like a Seeker jet instead of those complex kibble worn by Shatter. We only see Blitzwing transform once—from his alt mode, an F4 Phantom jet—into his robot form. We never really know if he’s a Triplechanger despite his G1 pedigree, but I’m going to go with Seeker because his kibble doesn’t indicate any anther alt mode. The inclusion of Blitzwing in the trailer excited people because he looked so G1 Starscream, but that maybe just marketing as Blitzwing does one important thing—it is he who essentially makes Bumblebee speechless by tearing out his voice box. He becomes the first of several Decepticons Bee will kill on Earth.

Shatter and Dropkick

Now we welcome perhaps the best Decepticon we’ve gotten so far in the live-action movies: Shatter! Voiced by Angela Bassett, Shatter is clearly the one in charge between herself and Dropkick, and the two are tasked to find out the location of Optimus Prime. They find and kill Cliffjumper before heading to Earth to hunt down Bumblebee when they pick up his beacon. She is a Triplechanger, and when she gets to Earth, she cans two vehicle modes she can switch back and forth from: a red-and-black 1971 Plymouth GTX Mode with lights and cage as well as a McDonnell-Douglas AV-8B Harrier jump jet. She is the thinker between the two and tricks the US military into helping them track down Bumblebee. She later rigs a communications tower in Brighton Falls to send out a message signifying the Autobots are coming to Earth and to send the Decepticon army there. She perishes in combat with Bumblebee when Bee fires at the dam and a rush of water pushes barge into Shatter, crushing her. Director Travis Knight says Shatter was inspired by the ninja robot Nightbird from the original “Transformers” episode “Enter the Nightbird.”

Shatter’s comrade is the Decepticon Triplechanger Dropkick, voiced by Justin Theroux. He follows Shatter but also grumbles constantly. His two Earth alt modesa are: AMC Javelin muscle car and a Bell AH-1 Supercobra attack helicopter. He uses a cannon that liquefies humans: in the 2007 film, the Decepticon weapons vaporize humans instead of liquefies them. Dropkick is always itching to kill humans. He is killed when Bumblebee uses an industrial chain to take him down in copter mode and then pulls it to crush his robot mode.

This is not the first time that Triplechangers have appeared in the live-action series. In “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” Drift clearly has two alt modes: a blue Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse and a Sikorsky S-97 assault helicopter.

When Bumblebee pushes Charlie forward with his door at the cliff, the song “You’ve Got the Touch” by Stan Bush plays. The song is the main theme from 1986’s “The Transformers: The Movie.”

Michael Bay only used the iconic Transformers transformation sound effect once in the live-action films: The very first transformation in the 2007 film, Blackout at the Qatar air base. In “Bumblebee,” the sound effect is used every time there is a transformation. It is used when the Transformers turn their hands into cannons. Most tellingly, it is the first sound effect used in the film, when the Paramount logo appears.

When Charlie discovers Bumblebee for the first time in Uncle Hank’s scrapyard, there is a beehive inside Bumblebee’s wheel well.

Charlie notices that there is an Autobot symbol (she doesn’t know what it is) in the center of Bumblebee’s steering wheel. When he is a Camaro in the 2007 film, he has the same Autobot badge on his steering wheel.

Charlie is not the first Transformers human character to be riding a motorcycle of some sort. Mikaela (Megan Fox) does the same in the 2007 Transformers film.

Bumblebee and Charlie near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

This film is set in the fictional town of Brighton Falls in northern California, then later in San Francisco. The previous live-action films were situated in everything from Chicago to Hong Kong.

Charlie is a great source of little in-jokes, such as the time when she asks if Bumblebee’s Beetle mode was a kind of disguise.

In keeping true to a classic sci-fi trope, when she is discussing meeting with the US military, Shatter says: “Take me to your leader.”

When Dropkick is battling Bumblebee, Bumblebee turns into his alt mode and then back again into robot mode the same way Jazz did when battling Skywarp in the original cartoon.

Prequel or reboot?

Bumblebee turns into a 1977 Chevy Camaro at the ending. This is clearly the same Chevy Camaro that Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) finds in Bernie Mac’s used car lot in 2007’s “Transformers.” While it would be strange that Bumblebee would keep the same alt mode for 30 years, that is clearly what this scene indicates. PREQUEL.

A young Agent Simmons (Nick Pila) reports to Agent Burns that they are tracking otherworld heat sources. This is clearly supposed to be the younger version of the character played by John Turturro in the Bayverse live-action films. PREQUEL.

While it is never named, Agent Burns’ unit is designated on his chest nameplates: S-7, the same Sector 7 from the Bayverse films. PREQUEL.

Boy, Starscream, Soundwave, Shockwave, Ravage, Arcee, Ratchet and Ironhide sure look different. It’s possible they could turn into their more complicated Bayverse versions (they are Transformers, it’s what they do) but the deviation seems just too much. REBOOT.

Prime talks about how the Decepticons must not “find” planet Earth. At the start of the film, the only Decepticon on Earth is Blitzwing. This flies in the face of the 2007 “Transformers” film where Starscream, Bonecrusher, Brawl, Blackout and Barricade are already active on Earth. Of course, Megatron has been frozen for decades. This sounds a lot like the Decepticons have found Earth. REBOOT.

At the end of the film, Bumblebee turns into a Camaro for the first time and drives on the bridge next to a red Freightliner FL86 cab with a very distinctive trailer. In a later scene, we find out it is indeed Optimus Prime.

Prime is talking to Bumblebee in the forest and points to the sky where we can see several fiery objects descending at high speed. These are Autobot escape pods.

This scene is clearly at odds with the continuity of 2007’s “Transformers.” The scene indicates this group of Autobots arrived on Earth in 1987, 30 years before the first live-action movie. Additionally, they arrive in their Cybertronian forms (Bumblebee) and not in the protoforms of the first movie. This is the most significant deviation from the Bayverse films. While it is possible that they leave Earth and come back again in 2007, too much will have to be changed to accommodate that timeline. REBOOT.

 

Optimus Prime has a faceplate, not a mouth. REBOOT.

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TAGS: Bumblebee, cybertron, Hailee Steinfeld, Hasbro, live action, optimus prime, shockwave, soundwave, transformers, trivia
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