Regardless if you see the film as a prequel or a reboot, Bumblebee brings new life to a very tired franchise. Recasting it as a coming of age story and bringing new actors onboard also help things substantially. The movie lightens up and the lack of seriousness is a welcome change.
There are a number of other elements that help transform the film as well, the most important being the non-objectification of the female characters. The Megan Fox syndrome is completely avoided and new girl, Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) gets the balance between awkward teenager and emerging woman just right. The script also helps with this as it avoids a number of predictable cliches.
Setting the film in the late eighties provides the opportunity to dial back the current overblown American military presence and alpha male tendencies. The main military man, John Cena as Agent Burns is played mostly for comic effect. His character is also the most poorly written.
The film is fun and entertaining in a very family friendly way and it’s one that is much more accessible for the young ladies in the house. It’s lack of sexist rhetoric is refreshing as is it’s less strident tone.