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- Most Transformers in this film look a lot like their G1 selves, which is pretty great if intended as a reboot, but as a prequel, how exactly did they end up looking...very different 20 years later? Somehow, somewhere along the way Ravage turned from a robotic cat to a cyclops-feline-shark-thing.
- It could be that they change appearances to stay true to the franchise's motto "Robots in Disguise". Changing appearances, at least even slightly, lowers your chances of being recognized by an enemy as it increases your unpredictability. That's why in the 3rd season of Transformers Prime Bumblebee and Smokescreen changed color schemes while Optimus got an upgraded appearance more similar to his G1 incarnation.
- Transformers Prime, which shares the same universe with the Transformers: War for Cybertron video games, also had the Transformers go from looking a lot more like their G1 incarnations to the designs the show's computer animators gave them. It seems that the Transformers choose to change appearances when they're on different planets.
- Did you hear that Hasbro announced Bumblebee will be a reboot breaking off from Michael Bay's 2007-2017 movies? Thus, Bumblebee's movie can stand on its own without needing structural support from the Bay-verse (at least in terms of continuity).
- The timeline. So according to this movie, the war on Cybertron occurred in 1987, and then Bumblebee went to Earth so he could set up a base of operations for the Autobots to regroup. And then at the end, Optimus Prime and seven or eight others came to Earth to do all that. But here's the problem: the whole point of the first movie was that it was when the Autobots first came to Earth in search of the Allspark. How does this all fit together? Did Optimus Prime leave Earth and then come back to find the Allspark? He couldn't have known Earth was Unicron, since TLK was all about him making that discovery. Oh, and the fall of Cybertron. If I recall correctly, DOTM established that Cybertron fell in the 1960s, and the crashed Decepticon ship was what kickstarted Neil Armstrong's pioneering visit to the moon. WHAT. THE. HECK? And don't tell me this movie is a reboot, because it has been said this is a prequel.
- It's both. It's a prequel unless it's a success, then it's a reboot. As for the contradictions, that's a tricky thing. As you said, the only part that can be handwaved is the Autobots arriving in 1987, then leaving at some point so they can come back 20 years later. As for the Moon landing (and the World War II stuff), there's really no logical explanation. We just have to accept that they never happened now. Retcons, if you will.
- As far as Cybertron is concerned, technically speaking we don't know the prologue occurs in 1987. That dateline doesn't get dropped until later when the action moves to Earth, so for all we know dozens or even millions of years pass between the battle and Bumblebee's landing.
- Why is Bumblebee's original name B-127? That's more than a little strange, especially since all other named bots in the film have proper names.
- Wasn't it mentioned somewhere that he was a combat drone?
- He's still fairly young. I assumed that their custom was to give out nicknames based on personalities or exploits, and 'bee just hasn't done quite enough to have earned one yet.
- Kinda how in Transformers: Animated, Optimus was given his name due to his optimistic persona, and Hot Rod because... well... that just goes without saying.
- If my hunch is correct, it might be that he was named such in partial reference to how at least Transformers Prime handled names, specifically for Megatron. Megatron started out as D-16, according to lore, but took his name as Megatron in the pits of Kaon. I imagine several transformers underwent similar experiences, being born with designations (as the Cybertron's golden age had a heavily enforced caste system), and then taking more personal names as their lives went on. This probably also became more common following the war. Of course, this is assuming that particular lore is the same as the Aligned continuity.
- Perhaps both? Maybe it's more common to be given your name based on your actions and personality, but choosing it yourself is also accepted? For example, in the Aligned Continuity, Megatron took his name from Megatronus Prime, and saw it fit to shorten it later on.
- How the heck did Blitzwing beat Bumblebee to Earth? Bumblebee literally got there and Blitzwing was on him in seconds, and Optimus said that Earth was isolated and out of the way, yet Blitzwing had already gotten there fast enough to track Bumblebee's descent and even have a vehicle mode that he could use.
- Maybe he was looking for Megatron and noticed the Cybertronian who decided to crash down.
- It's also entirely possible that there were 'Cons who were there prior; Transformers Prime did something similar where modern day Autobots knew very little of Earth, yet there had been Autobots there who were rather mercilessly slaughtered by the Predacons.
- He could have worked out Bumblebee's trajectory somehow and just followed. This requires him to be able to keep pace with the escape pod, but whether or not that's feasible is up in the air as far as I'm concerned.
- Charlie's picture with Bumblebee is done selfie-style. I'm aware that selfies aren't wholly a recent phenomenon- George Harrison, for example, was pretty fond of doing fish-eye-lens shots of himself by outstretched arm- but is it plausible that a typical American teenager circa 1987 would be taking pictures that way? Especially given the way the shot is lined up- could that have been done with the cameras available at the time?
- It wasn't uncommon if there was no one else around to take a picture and you wanted to take a photo of you and your friend/lover/family member/whatever. It was a bit of a gamble as it was difficult to tell how the photo would turn out until the film was developed but then, that was the nature of taking photos at the time.
- The selfie was a Polaroid instant photo, a fairly commonplace brand in the 80s and 90s. Easy enough to take as many photos as you needed, and adjust your angle until you found the shot you liked best.
- Why did Sector Seven have giant harpoon guns mounted on their Humvees? In this new timeline they are unaware of Transformers until Bumblebee arrived so there doesn't seem much reason for such a weapon setup beforehand.
- Left over from when it was an explicit prequel, and Cybertronians had been on Earth since World War II.
- Hasbro confirms this movie is separate from the Bay-verse. Bumblebee clearly first arrives on Earth in the movie.
- Or they could be tasers for frying a cars circuitry. Useful for stopping chases quicker than a P.I.T. Maneuver.
- Before the events of the film, we don't know what Sector Seven did exactly, besides be special and secret operations. Given that car-mounted harpoon guns are a fairly common thing in spy fiction, it's possible that it was designed for the same purpose as that, quickly snaring vehicles to keep them from escaping during a Car Chase or pulling aircrafts down from the sky. Sector Seven probably had them for human targets in mind but when presented with the alien robots, figured they'd be useful.
- Not sure if this was explained, but how did the bots and cons learn English? The previous sets of movies stated it was from the internet, but in this one the internet was made by the cons.
- The 'bots all demonstrate they have radio transmitters built in, and one of the first things that happens to Bumblebee is he hears Burns yelling on the radio. It's likely that while on the run, Bumblebee tuned himself into earth radio stations and pieced together English that way, and Shatter and Dropkick did something similar.
- Most incarnations never bother explaining, or just handwave it with built in universal translators. Since the canon of the old movies won't work this time, that's probably the best answer we can go with.
- "Piece it together while on the run" explains why Bumblebee didn't explain himself from the very start.
- A relatively minor quibble, but when Shatter presented herself and Dropkick as peacekeepers, why did she call herself a Decepticon Peacekeeper? Someone as intelligent as her should have at least considered that humans might peg onto the negatively associated "deception" part of Decepticon, and instead called herself a "Cybertronian" Peacekeeper instead.
- Probably a slip of the tongue, so to speak. She said Decepticon, and then couldn't backtrack without looking extremely suspicious. Or alternatively, it's a translation issue, and the Cybertronian word for "deception" doesn't have quite the same negative connotations as in English.
- How does Charlie's family where the only breadwinners are a nurse and a Hot Dog on a Stick server maintain such a nice house near the beach? Especially when they live in California?
- Could have inherited the house somehow. Or maybe Charlie's dad had a better job and was able to pay it off before he died.
- That or maybe the landlord didn't bother kicking them out yet. Due to legal complications, it can be painfully excruciating for a landlord to kick out tenants of a property who aren't paying rent once the tenants were granted the privilege to live there under a contract even if said contract either expired or was breached.
- "Friends" Rent Control is also a perfectly good excuse. In-Universe, the house isn't that nice; its dwarfed in comparison to Tina Lark's, and Charlie's bedroom appears pretty small compared to Memo's. Its also a coastal town, so pretty much every house is close to the beach.
- California didn't always use to be as crazy expensive as it is today. Even back in the 1980s there definite places in coastal towns that were genuinely affordable and also very unfashionable too. Also, as mentioned, it is not unheard of for a widowed mother to have a "nice" house. They probably took the mortgage out under the Charlie's father's name, and when he died his life insurance paid off the mortgage. That is a pretty realistic thing, if you got the proper insurance coverage.
- After working on the Boardwalk (nicely done to match the 80's) it shows Charlie riding her bike down the wharf to the boat shop. Ok, there's no boat shops that far down (in fact it's not wide enough for such a yard) but we can pretend. But then when Charlie turns on the radio it does the big zoom-out from the yard - and it shows the yard is CLEARLY LANDLOCKED. (Just east of the 101-580 merge in San Rafael in fact - 90 miles from the Boardwalk and 4000ft from the bay, though the nearest boat ramp is a 2 mile drive).
- Its not a boat shop, its a scrapyard. It does say that the shop is called "Hank's Marine Repair and Parts", but we only see them working on cars and the scrapyard has very few boats. Its likely that they're landlocked because the boat-side of the business is an afterthought, and their focus is more on car repair.
- Where was Megatron during the events of this film? His absence at a time when the Decepticons were winning a crucial battle against the Autobots doesn't make much sense. And why would he (want to) miss seeing the Autobots running for their lives and abandoning Cybertron to his command?