Bumblebee ★★★½

Back in 1987, an Autobot called B-127 crash lands on earth after escaping an attack on his home planet of Cybertron by the evil Decepticons.
He's only on terra firma for a matter of minutes before being attacked by another Decepticon and despite winning the battle he loses his voice and transforms into an old yellow VW Beetle.
Sometime later he's uncovered in a California junkyard by teenager Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld) who's still recovering from the sudden passing of her father the year before and is struggling to adapt to a new family life with a stepfather which her mother and younger brother have fully embraced.
The mute B-127 soon reveals himself to his new host who doesn't take long to get over her shock at having discovered intelligent alien life in her garage and is immediately rechristened 'Bumblebee' by Charlie.
But just as they are bonding Charlie unwittingly activates a homing beacon that alerts the Decepticon pair of Shatter and Dropkick to Bumblebees whereabouts and they arrive on earth where they convince the military - led by a suspicious U.S Army Ranger lieutenant Jack Burns (John Cena) - that they have come in peace and that it is the Autobots who pose a threat.
Like so many modern films it has set itself back in the hallowed days of the 1980s when the music was cooler, kids were meaner and nostalgic tropes abound.
But considering that this whole franchise is based on a very '80s cartoon that I along with a helluva lot of others grew up with and have very fond if somewhat distant memories of I guess that's understandable.
I've never been a fan of Michael Bay's rendering of Transformers which produced five movies between 2007 and 2017 and grossed billions. The transformers vaguely resembled - if at all - their cartoon original incarnations - and the plot lines were generally convoluted nonsense featuring brainless dialogue and incoherent action.
This seems like and has since been confirmed to be a reboot and the portrayal of both the Autobots and Decepticons is far more in keeping with their origins. That aside the action is far less clunky and cleaner and the storyline is far more cogent.
Bay gets a producer credit but this is very much the movie of director Travis Knight who follows up his critically acclaimed directorial debut 'Kubo and the Two Strings' (2016) with this enjoyable effort.
Whilst definitely paying homage to the era in which it's set - the 80s pop tunes are pretty much relentless and there are some strong visual motifs with plenty of E.T-esque bicycle action - it doesn't overly revel in the nostalgia to the point of pastiche something which any film set at this time always walks a tightrope with.
The central protagonist Bumblebee is highly likeable, mainly due to the childlike qualities he is afforded as a result of not being able to speak, and Hailee Steinfeld is perfect as his emotionally vulnerable but congenial human foil. The two form a very touching bond that summons up favourable comparisons to the 'The Iron Giant' (1999).
John Cena and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. provide humorous turns in supporting roles with the voices of Angela Basset and Justin Theroux suitably repellant as the antagonists of the piece.
Pretty good popcorn fodder that returns the concept to it's simpler origins and sets it up for a hopefully more satisfying series of rebooted movies.