In news that might come as a slight shock to hopeful “Transformers” fans who got on the “Bumblebee” bandwagon, it was revealed today that Dylan O’Brien will be voicing the lovable yellow Autobot in its origin story film, which will be released in a matter of weeks. In a casting choice that would match online roulette casinos in its apparent randomness (though if you’ve read our recent piece about Frances McDormand and other casting oddities in the Transbayverse it won’t be a total surprise), the 27-year-old actor, known mostly for his role as Thomas in the Maze Runner franchise has been confirmed as the voicing lead for the upcoming franchise re-invigoration operation. No longer will the Autobot express himself through pop songs.
The news come straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, as Lorenzo di Bonaventura, producer of the film, said to IGN: “Since we were approaching this as an origin story, we felt that it was appropriate that you got to hear his voice. That’s the simple logic that we employed. The longer term implication of that is different. But the short-term implication of that is, since we really are resetting the mythology, essentially, of who Bumblebee is. And so, that seemed to us to be the appropriate, to get the chance to hear what he sounds like.”
While a lot of people were excited about seeing Gen 1 Optimus Prime and a few Decepticons in the film, and were even more pumped after seeing the teaser trailers released so far, this casting choice has raised a few eyebrows. The reception of the Maze Runner franchise has been mostly luke-warm, and far from the Harry-Potter-and-Hunger-Games levels of fandom it was first thought possible to generate. O’Brien’s performance was, in all honesty, never praised for its range or delivery. But then again, Shia Labeouf’s credits before joining the Transformers franchise in 2007 included a minor role in Constantine and the rather under-rated Disturbia. And that went well! (as you can see in my previous article about how I like the Bayverse films).
Self-promoting and joking aside, though, it must be said that Paramount’s decision to cast fresh blood might very well pay off and be the ultimate redemptive move the franchise needs. On the other hand, the fact that the film will be released during the extremely busy holiday season means that it’s already on thin ice in terms of box office success in the West.
All of this may worry fans, but Paramount will surely continue to bank on foreign markets to make the biggest chunk of their change with the Transformers franchise, as the films have made much, much more of their gross abroad than in the States.
I’m still cautiously optimistic, and willing to give Dylan O’Brien the benefit of the doubt. Hey, at least he can’t be worse than Sam Witwicky, can he?
Here’s the latest trailer for the film, in case you haven’t seen it yet: