The warm reception that greeted Bumblebee is firm evidence that Transformers fatigue has peaked.
Transformers: The Last Knight is the fifth instalment in Michael Bay’s high-action Transformers saga, based on the cartoon and toy line of the 1980s. Originally intended as a fresh reboot for the series, the 2017 movie ultimately drowned its themes in a disconnected spate of fist pounding smashery. Critics didn't like it either, with reviews generally negative.
While The Last Knight wasn't a box-office flop, its performance was very underwhelming, taking in the lowest return of all the Bay-directed Transformers films. As such, it is somewhat surprising that The Last Knight will now be receiving a follow-up. Indeed, hype surrounding the live-action Transformers movies seems to have dwindled to a dull roar, with Age of Extinction being the last movie that was – at least for me – entertaining. Have we reached a peak in Transformers fatigue?
Weird. That's weird.— Steven Edenfield (@ForteSutcliff) March 16, 2019
I don't like it.
It was certainly looking that way until Bumblebee leapt into the franchise last year. Part Iron Giant, part E.T, all 1980’s nostalgia-fest, Travis Knight’s simple coming-of-age story successfully breathed new life into a franchise that was slowly (but loudly) petering out.
Bumblebee was also better-received by critics than the bulk of the Transformers movies put together, while also succeeding commercially. Granted, it doesn't level with the other Transformers movies in terms of box-office performance, but it more than made back its budget according to the CEO of Paramount parent company, Viacom. This contrasts with The Last Knight, which lost over $100 million, according to Movie Web.
Elsewhere, reviewers praised Bumblebee's movie’s human rebellious-teen narrative, and some admitted they’d been surprised by how much they’d enjoyed it. From this, it does feel as if the high-octane machine war is beginning to wear thin for Transformers audiences.
It is telling that Bonaventura also confirmed that Bumblebee is to receive a sequel. Following The Last Knight’s disappointing commercial and critical performance, it feels like fresh, quirkier takes on the series might start to prop up further entries in the pre-existing Bay universe.
Alternatively, though, it is just as likely that other filmmakers could use Knight’s film as an example of how to continue the franchise while keeping the story interesting. With Bee set for another outing and The Last Knight 2 on the horizon, maybe this time around we'll return to find a pleasantly rebooted franchise.
Right now, there's no information concerning a release date for The Last Knight sequel, and it's unknown whether or not Bay will return to direct.