THE robots in disguise receive a welcome and sweetly sentimental reboot in the sixth instalment of the Transformers franchise.
Bumblebee unfolds before events of the original Transformers and services a softly beating heart beneath gleaming metal through the touching friendship of the titular Autobot and a grief-stricken girl played by Pitch Perfect alumnus Hailee Steinfeld.
On the run in 1987, Bumblebee seeks refuge in a junkyard where teenager Charlie (Steinfeld) finds him and together they set out to save the Earth from the Decepticons.
Steinfeld tenderly conveys the depth of her heroine’s affection for her childlike robocompanion, who is one of the cutest weapons in the Transformers armoury.
MARY POPPINS RETURNS (U)
A SPOONFUL of nostalgia – make that several heaped spoonfuls – helps the joy-infused medicine of Rob Marshall’s 1930s-set musical fantasy go down in the most delightful way.
Based on the books by PL Travers, Mary Poppins Returns prescribes two hours of pure, sentiment-soaked escapism to banish the winter blues and jiggedy-jog our weary souls.
It’s a lavishly staged carousel of whoop-inducing song and dance numbers that kicks up its polished heels in the face of cynicism and affectionately harks back to the 1964 Oscar-winning classic directed by Robert Stevenson. Emily Blunt, above, is practically perfect in every way.
This Christmas and beyond, it’s an exceedingly jolly ‘oliday with Mary Poppins Returns.
OCEANS rise and standards fall in Aquaman, a bloated origin story for the eponymous DC Comics superhero which capsizes in a tsunami of splashy digital effects and melodramatic storytelling.
Scriptwriters David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall crown a new king of Atlantis via a convoluted treasure hunt above and below cresting waves, where armies of armoured crocodiles and seahorses clash in a titanic battle.
Sweeping panoramas of otherworldly marine creatures locked in bloody combat owe a debt to The Lord Of The Rings trilogy in their gargantuan scale and execution, but there is no emotional connection to two-dimensional characters in the midst of the melee.
Jason Momoa, above, flexes his muscles and pearly whites in the title role, imbuing his reluctant heir with flashes of rough charm and humour.
Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe, sporting a fetching man bun, buoy throwaway supporting roles and refuse to drown in the relentless onslaught of special effects trickery. We are not so fortunate.