On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.


Not being a fan of the Michael Bay Transformers franchise, I thought Bumblebee was a film more enjoyable and engaging than it has any right being.

Mostly putting aside the tedious effects heavy bombast of the Bay films, this 80s set prequel plays less like a spirit-draining CGI blockbuster and more like a heartfelt homage to 80s family films, most notably producer Steven Spielberg's ET, though the spirit of War Games and Flight of the Navigator is evident too with a dash of The Iron Giant thrown in for good measure.

Effectively helmed by Laika Studios animator and Kubo and the Two Strings director Travis Knight, and led by a very charming lead performance from Hailee Steinfeld, Bumblebee is a retro treat that occasionally, perhaps inevitably, succumbs to all too familiar and scrappy robot on robot punch-ups but redeems itself with a cuter and more human story than usual.

John Cena is fine as the government agent on Bumblebee's trail while Love, Simon's Jorge Lendeborg Jr. makes for a winningly geeky sidekick for Steinfeld.

Better than expected it doesn't entirely escape the Bay excesses and is admittedly derivative at times, but in its quieter more retro moments it's a fun and emotionally involving blockbuster with a great 80s soundtrack that's actually worth seeing.

By Kevin Knapman

Bumblebee (PG)

1h 54m

Director: Travis Knight
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Pamela Adlon

UK Release: Friday 26th December 2018

Bumblebee - "TP The House" Extended Clip

Bumblebee - "I Can't Drive" Clip

Bumblebee - "People Of Earth" Clip

Bumblebee - "Don't Run" Clip