Bumblebee gets its nationwide theatrical release on Friday, Dec. 21. In the meantime, critics who have gotten an early look have already sent its ratings soaring on review aggregation sites. At the time of this writing, Bumblebee has a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer, accounting for 21 total reviews.
Only one of those reviews was negative overall, and the average rating stands at 7.4 out of ten. Meanwhile, nearly 1,100 users have chimed in on the movie, with 95 percent saying that they are excited to see it. Many critics made note of the ways that Bumblebee differentiates itself from the rest of the Transformers franchise, suggesting it could entice new or lapsed fans as well.
"Fans of the classic Transformers will be thrilled by many of the touches here. But there is also now an entire generation of kids who are going to get to watch a girl drive, with a smile on her face," wrote Liz Shannon Miller for Indiewire.
"Bumblebee, for its part, has just enough wit, playfulness and charm to develop a voice of its own, which is no small thing in the context of a flashy, lunkheaded studio franchise," agreed Justin Chang for the Los Angeles Times.
The Transformers franchise has often been mocked as the epitome of over-saturated special effects and gratuitous explosions in movies. Many feel that the films have strayed too far from the themes of the original animated series. Early reviews seem to suggest that Bumblebee could draw those old-school fans back in -- if they turn out to see it.
"Bumblebee is basically the movie that fans of the 1980s animated series wanted all along," wrote Peter Debruge for Variety.
To that end, Bumblebee takes fans back in time. The movie is set in 1987, when Bumblebee is trapped on Earth and on the run. He hides out in a junkyard, where he is soon found by a teenage girl named Charlie -- played by Hailee Steinfeld. She helps to revive the injured Autobot, and the two set out on a raucous adventure.
The movie also features John Cena as Agent Jack Burns, a government operative on the hunt for Bumblebee. On their mad dash for freedom, Bumblebee and Charlie will apparently run into other transformers, some of whom are not friendly.
The movie is directed by Travis Knight, and is the first Transformers film not to be directed by Michael Bay. Judging by the early reviews, these are all welcome changes for the franchise. Bumblebee hits theaters in the U.S. on Friday, Dec. 21.