BUMBLEBEE (2018) Stream on Amazon and Hulu. Many blockbuster prequels tell the origin story of a flesh-and-blood superhero or villain. This one tells the tale of a Volkswagen Beetle. Or, more precisely, it tells an origin story of a robot hero who can morph into a yellow car. That robot would be Bumblebee, once the metal partner of Shia LaBeouf’s character in the various Michael Bay “Transformers” movies. Bumblebee is here reimagined as the sidekick of a 1980s Northern California teenager played by Hailee Steinfeld. Together, the pair defends the earth from evil robots. This movie was directed by Travis Knight, a filmmaker who built his career on stop-motion animation. He cut back on some of the profuse chaos that defined the earlier “Transformers” films, working off a screenplay by Christina Hodson. The result, Glenn Kenny wrote in his review for The New York Times, is “cleverly plotted, neatly allusive and has dialogue you can envision real people and, um, real Transformers speaking.” It’s “springy yet coherent,” he added, “not, like previous films in the series, a digital-image blender set on high.”
6 UNDERGROUND (2019) Stream on Netflix. “Bumblebee” was the first live-action “Transformers” movie not directed by Michael Bay. Those looking for Bay’s brand of large-scale violence can instead turn to “6 Underground,” his latest action movie. The film stars Ryan Reynolds as a billionaire who leads a team of vigilantes in a fight against well-financed baddies. A recent trailer includes parkour, guns, sparks and a destroyed car pirouetting through the air; it ends with Reynolds’s character asking, “Sounds fun, right?” Whether or not you agree with that assessment is probably a good bellwether for whether you’d like the movie.
HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT (2015) Rent on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube. The filmmaking brothers Josh and Benny Safdie are in theaters this weekend with “Uncut Gems,” a New York thriller with Adam Sandler that has gotten some terrific reviews. This earlier movie from the directors also tells a New York story. It centers on Harley (Arielle Holmes), a young woman who is addicted to heroin and lives on the streets of Manhattan. It’s also a love story: The film is largely built around Harley’s attempts to win back the affection a fellow addict, Ilya (Caleb Landry Jones). The Safdie brothers “capture a density of activity as endemic to the city as it is to Harley’s daily hustle,” Nicolas Rapold wrote in his review for The Times. He called the movie “a small, beautiful classic of street theater.”
What’s on TV
MEL BROOKS: UNWRAPPED 9 p.m. on HBO. There’s a moment late in this documentary when Mel Brooks listens to tape of himself being introduced as an “American film director, producer, writer, actor and comedian” on a radio show in the late 1970s. “They left out composer,” he says. Brooks’s career, which included creating movies like “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein,” is explored here through interviews that the British TV presenter Alan Yentob has conducted with Brooks periodically since the 1980s.