Bumblebee 2

Last year’s Transformers prequel Bumblebee took a stripped-down approach to its story about an alien robot by eschewing excessive action in favor of an Amblin-style relationship between the eponymous Autobot and Hailee Steinfeld’s human character. But according to the film’s producer, they still haven’t quite landed on the right balance between character moments and action beats.

In a new interview, Lorenzo di Bonaventura (who’s produced every Transformers movie thus far) says he plans to switch things up in Bumblebee 2 and the rest of the planned Transformers films to create “a fusion of Bumblebee and the [Michael] Bay movies” with “a little more Bayhem.”

Speaking with Collider, di Bonaventura says he’s listened to criticisms of director Travis Knight and writer Christina Hodson’s Amblin-style approach to Bumblebee:

“…the audience had asked us several times, in different ways, ‘I want to get to know a Transformer better.’ We did that. In some respects, definitely a tip to what the audience had said to us. The interesting part is when you set out to do something like that, you don’t exactly know the ramifications of it. In this case, the ramification of it was, for the people who didn’t love the movie, was not enough action. Because you’re telling a more intimate story, therefore you can’t.”

In terms of the lessons they learned from making Bumblebee, he explains:

“Several lessons have come out of this. One is that we have the freedom to tell almost any story. The other is that, how strongly the audience identified with the strength of character and emotion. I know the next Transformer, our attempt anyway, is to sort of do a fusion of Bumblebee and the Bay movies…a little more Bayhem. And a little bit more of the character falling in love within the emotional dynamic of the movie. One of the things I want to do — and I hope we pull it off — is, we did it with Bumblebee because he’s so cute and he’s so accessible, but he can’t talk. I think the more human we can make these characters, the more people are going to like them.”

We often talk about how Hollywood regularly learns the wrong lessons from its successes, and on first glance, that seems like what could be happening here. One of the key reasons audiences connected with Bumblebee was specifically because it didn’t feel like the earlier Michael Bay movies in the franchise, so beefing up the action and giving future films “more Bayhem” sounds…well, kind of dumb.

But Bumblebee is the lowest-grossing Transformers movie in the entire franchise (outside of a re-release of the 1986 animated film), so from a numbers standpoint, I can see why di Bonaventura might think that upping the action is a way to gain higher returns the next time out. I’m just glad he also realizes that the emotional and character-driven aspects are still important. Hopefully this planned “fusion” of styles results in a mixture that doesn’t tip too far back into the chaotic nonsense of the Transformers sequels.

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