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'Bumblebee' trailer goes old-school, takes Transformers back to the '80s

Last summer’s Transformers: The Last Knight took in franchise-low receipts at the box office, tallying only $130 million domestically and $605 million globally — a far cry from 2014’s Age of Extinction ($245 million here at home, $1.1 billion across the planet). That drop-off doesn’t bode well for future sequels. However, Paramount has high hopes for continuing the series via its first spinoff: Bumblebee, which will focus, per its title, on the heroic, vocally challenged yellow Autobot. And now, we have the first trailer for the eagerly anticipated standalone adventure.

Directed by Kubo and the Two Strings’ Travis Knight (longtime Transformers mastermind Michael Bay is relegated to executive producer), Bumblebee is set in 1987 and focuses on the relationship between the robot in disguise and his teenage owner, Charlie, played by Hailee Steinfeld. Unlike in the prior films, which have seen him take the shape of a modern Chevrolet Camaro, Bumblebee will here assume his original, old-school Volkswagen Beetle form, which (like the amusing Rick Astley gag) is in keeping with the vintage vibe.

While the above clip doesn’t provide much in the way of plot information, it’s clear the film is going for a smaller-scale sort of story than its larger-than-life Bay-helmed efforts. And it’s also apparent from this clip that the unlikely duo will quickly become the best of friends, and will eventually have to do battle with at least one airborne Decepticon — as well as military forces led by John Cena.

Whether audiences still have an appetite for such computer-generated-imaging mayhem won’t be known until later this year, as Bumblebee arrives in theaters on Dec. 21.

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