Saw it tonight. Okay movie with some honest heart but nothing that really broke the formula of what we've seen in the past five TF films. The plot is pretty basic and the main crux of the story is similar to the first film in that it features a young adult looking for their first car, finding it, discovering it's a transforming alien robot and ends up getting caught up in its conflict. That was a strong point in the first film and it works in this one, maybe even better as Bee and Charlie spend most of the film together and get to develop more of a genuine and sweet relationship. Bee is a bit more childlike this go around and much of the film's humor (or at least the humor that works) comes from this aspect. We finally get to hear Bee with an actual voice before witnessing how and why he ends up having to use radio clips to communicate. I do wish however they would just let him have a voice permanently though, it's been six films the whole radio bit has worn thin. Hailee Steinfeld does a decent job as the main human character Charlie but aside from her like in all the previous films the supporting human characters are forgettable, dumb and or annoying. John Cena's soldier character falls into the latter category with a typical dork military officer concerned only with destroying them before they destroy us. Charlie's family is mostly played for laughs which don't really land and only help to make them less believable as real people or parents to Charlie.
The focus of future TF films need to start focusing more on the TF's as characters and less on the humans. This film takes a step in the right direction with that. Bee is front and center for most of the film obviously and although there are only three Decepticons featured as the villains they demonstrate more personality and dialogue than many of the previous film's Cons combined.
For many longtime fans the TF designs of Bay's films were one of the main subjects of contempt. With Bay's exit we definitely see a shift toward more traditional G1 styled aesthetics. The opening sequence on Cybertron is a fan's dream come true and features a highlight reel of many old fan favorites styled in their classic Generation 1 forms. Optimus, Wheeljack, Brawn, Cliffjumper, Soundwave, Ravage, Shockwave, and many different styled Starscream Seeker types were among some of the bots I remember seeing. And hey, Soundwave finally sounded like his old self!
Another Bay staple which you either loved or hated was his penchant for extreme closeup and shakey cam work during action sequences. I was one who didn't care much for it, I want to be able to clearly see the action and these awesome robots beating up each other. So if you're like me you'll be glad to know the action in this film is much easier to see and follow. Bee has great hard hitting, knockdown, drag out fights with each of the three Decepticons (Blitzwing, Dropkick and Shatter.)
The VFX work was pretty good overall. The Cybertron scenes in the trailer were criticized as looking a bit video-game-ish but they look better in the finished film.
So overall, it didn't blow me away and it didn't offer much that we haven't already seen from previous films but I did like it. I probably won't see it again in theaters but I think it's taking some baby steps in a fresher direction, trying to show more respect for the source material and providing more of what fans would actually like to see in a live action TF movie. 3/5*