Complete A-Z list



Stars: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett

Director: Travis Knight

A battle-scarred 'autonomous robotic organism' from outer space crashes in 1960s California, where, posing as a decrepit 1967 yellow Volkswagen, it bonds with earthling Steinfeld when she discovers it.

That's the basic storyline concocted by screenwriter Christina Hodson for this latest addition to the Hollywood money machine created by the Transformers movies.

Could it be that this basic human-helps-alien storyline seem just a tad familiar?

What about 1982's youngster-helps-extraterrestrial hit E.T. then?

Given that Steven Spielberg is one of the movie's three executive producers, the association surely seems at least a tad credible?

And, it could be argued, making the metallic hero a hyper-talented yellow VW, is a recognisable allusion to Disney's five Herbie movies starring the talented VW.

Not that it matters here: Bumblebee flies high on its own terms, particularly in its sensible decision to pass on Michael Bay as director.

Where the first five 'Transformers' movies were directed loudly and luridly in his standard style by Bay, with much of the subtlety of an out-of-control jackhammer, here director Knight (who made the wondrous Kubo and the Two Strings) employs sensitivity, sharp and credible characterisation and genuine charm to tell his entertaining family-oriented story,

Steinfeld's memorable portrait of a teenager who, seeking to get her driving licence, befriends the grounded Autobot with genuinely entertaining results, carries the fairy-tale narrative along entertainingly and, in the subplot of her teenage romance, credibly as well.

So welcome a charming kidflick that should not prove to be too much of a cinematic strain on accompanying adults.

Alan Frank

USA 2018. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour.
113 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 04 Jan 2019