Michael Bay’s Transformers movies are edited so furiously that one can disregard the plots and appreciate them on the level of abstract formalism; by contrast, this prequel to the series (directed by Travis Knight) employs longer takes and more traditional montage, which allows you to really bask in how stupid the story is. Set in 1987, it follows an 18-year-old aspiring mechanic (Hailee Steinfeld) who befriends a nice giant robot from outer space. Their friendship gets interrupted by the arrival of some evil robots who want to destroy the nice robot. The film presents late-80s America so fetishistically that it feels at times like a follow-up to Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher (2014), and its recycling of 80s teen-movie cliches are also weirdly reverential. Perhaps the best thing about it is that the heroine is a headstrong young woman who refuses to be objectified—likely a corrective to the rampant sexism of Bay’s films.