Our brave Autobot is badly injured, but just before his memory fades away, he catches sight of a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, and finds his disguise in an homage to Bumblebee's first incarnation from the 1980s, when he was one of the stars of the animated series. Bay rewrote Bumblebee as a Camaro when pairing him with Shia LaBeouf for his dude-focused enterprise.
It's at this point we finally meet his human companion, Charlie, played by Hailee Steinfeld. She's a rock-loving chick who has a Pretenders poster over her bed, but is also deeply sad. Still grieving her father's death -- and annoyed as all hell with her mom (Pamela Adlon) -- all she wants to do is get the money to finish the automotive project left behind by her dad. While searching for cheap parts, she comes across a dusty old VW filled with bees, which the shop owner gives her for free since it's her 18th birthday.
Thus begins an interspecies friendship not unlike E.T., and as Charlie and Bumblebee develop their bond, two Decepticons (voiced by Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux) arrive to convince the military they are the good guys. Their presence, reluctantly abetted by John Cena's militant Agent Burns, spells an inevitable clanging showdown. But even as the action heads toward violence, the movie spends a lot of time with Charlie and Bumblebee as they get to know each other, and, in turn, help each other heal. It's genuinely touching, largely thanks to Steinfeld.
An Oscar nominee at 14 for the Coens' True Grit, Steinfeld takes the more emotional beats and turns them gut-wrenching. She makes it clear that Charlie is truly lonely, having pushed away her living family members out of anger, and Bumblebee offers her needed support. (There are echoes of Steinfeld's underrated performance in The Edge of Seventeen here, too.) You'll also be happy to know that Knight's camera -- unlike Bay's -- never leers at her; fuck the low-cut tops of previous Transformers women, Charlie has an awesome collection of band merch, including a The Damned shirt.