Let’s be honest: even for a series of movies based on a line of plastic toys, the Transformers movies have generally sucked, pretty dramatically. So, my expectations for this new Bumblebee movie are pretty low. That said, there’s been some decisions that have given me the barest bit of hope: Bumblebee is a Volkswagen Beetle again, not a Chevrolet Camaro, and this trailer isn’t just a dimwitted orgy of explosions and idiotic one-liners.

Here’s the trailer, if you’re curious:

It feels a bit more like the Iron Giant, right? The robot is tentative, unsure at first, not immediately threatening. It’s a much more nuanced take than we’ve seen from the Transformers series, and that’s a refreshing change.


Looking at the design of the robot, it’s interesting to see how the very different aesthetics of a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle and the look of a Transformer space-fighty robot are merged.

The overall proportions and stance of Bumblee, in robotic form, are stocky and rounded, much like a Beetle. There’s some interesting and clever design decisions made involving which Beetle parts to keep intact and visible when in robot form. The use of the horn grille as Bumblebee’s mouth I think is clever, as that’s what the car used to, um, “talk” as well.

The front fenders, complete with headlights and left and right sections of the distinctive chrome bumper with its tall overriders form Bumblebee’s pectorals, there’s recognizable wheels on his back, and while most of the other body parts and cladding panels are pretty heavily modified from how they were when they formed the VW’s body, distinctive vents and stamped details can be spotted. Also, the Beetl’s chrome trim style is heavily replicated on the Transformer form, and the overall look seems to be pretty compatible with the original Beetle form.


Also, based on what I could tell from the trailer, Bumblebee’s face when in car form seems to be somewhere around here on the chassis, right around where the frame head meets the floorpans:


I’m just happy to see an old, yellow Beetle getting a nice pop-cultural role in a modern movie, continuing a trend of Beetles starring in movies that goes back decades.

There’s other interesting automotive-related mysteries in the trailer, specifically, there’s a Transformer that seems to be Bumblebee, but when you look closer you realize it’s a yellow Jeep CJ-based Transformer of some kind:


Old yellow Beetles and old yellow Jeeps? Sounds like this may be an ideal date night movie for David Tracy and me, right?

I’m still a little thrown by the very concept of even the possibility of a non-terrible Transformers movie. I guess we’ll find out around Christmas, like the trailer says.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)

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