The Transformers franchise returns to its roots not only by setting the Bumblebee prequel movie in the 1980s, the very decade when the shapeshifting aliens from Cyberton first rolled onto the scene, but the debut trailer for said prequel re-uses the late Bernie Mac's wisdom from the film that kicked off the Michael Bay movie series back in 2007.
In an 'echo-y' callback that reverberates through the last 11 years, Mac's used car salesman reminds us that it's not the driver who picks the car, but the car who picks the driver. Before Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) joined forces with the famous yellow Autobot, young Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld) discovered him when he was a retro VW Beetle in 1987.
Watch the first trailer for Bumblebee below:
With not one explosion or gratuitously sexy shot of an attractive woman in the trailer, the movie already looks more low-key and down-to-earth (pun intended) than the Michael Bay offerings, giving off an almost warm and fuzzy E.T. vibe, where the young person bonds with the visitor from another world as said visitor is being hunted by the government. That role is being filled by John Cena, an agent of Sector 7, the federally-sanctioned Men in Black-esque agency tasked with monitoring alien activity on the planet.
Perhaps the funniest moment is at the end when Charlie tells Bee that "music can help you say what you're feeling" before popping a cassette of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" into his tape player. It plays for about two seconds before he pops out the tape, which shoots across the room, a clever little nod to the annoying, modern day meme of being "Rick Rolled." However, since the song came out in the summer of '87 (the very year in which the movie is set) and it became an insant number one, chart-topping hit in numerous countries, the gag is just for the meme-loving audience of 2018. But who knows, maybe Autobots had an intuitive sense in the late '80s of just how irksome the Astley tune would become.
Bumblebee was directed by Travis Knight, an animator on Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings, who makes his live-action directorial debut with the first Transformers spinoff.
Here's the new poster as well, its tagline of driving home the spinoff/origin story angle.
Written by Christina Hodson (scribe on the upcoming Birds of Prey), Bumblebee co-stars Pamela Adlon, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Rachel Crow, and Jason Drucker in the human department. As for other Transformers, the roster is limited to Bee, Starscream, Barricade (Jess Harnell), Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), and one final, currently unnamed robot voiced by Martin Short.
Bumblebee rolls out into theaters December 21.