While there have been many toys that time forgot, 'Transformers', those robots who can turn into cars, planes, guns and just about anything else, are now near to celebrating their 25th birthday, and have stayed in the minds of many grown-ups thanks to the figures, cartoons and comics of old and today's retro cool t-shirts. In the mid-1980s 'Transformers' were huge in Ireland, and even made it to cinemas in 1986 with Orson Welles voicing the evil robot Unicron.

Now, 21 years after their last big screen adventure, the valiant Autobots and their arch-enemies the Decepticons have returned - and after this you'll be in no doubt that it won't be another two decades before we'll be seeing more of these robots in disguise.

On their home planet Cybertron, a war raged between the Autobots and the Decepticons to gain control of the Allspark, the source of life for all the planet's inhabitants. During the conflict the Allspark was despatched to Earth and now the Decepticons have arrived to find it and their long lost leader Megatron. 

In their bid to pinpoint Megatron's whereabouts, the Decepticons attack US forces in Qatar and hack into America's national defence system. Now Washington's top computer programmers, with the help of civilian hackers, scramble to try and find out what has happened before World War III begins while the survivors of the Qatar massacre try to make it to safety with their story.

As US forces prepare for war, teenager Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) has his own worries, namely finding the money to buy a car so he can try and woo Mikaela (Fox), the hottest girl in his class. But Sam has a bigger destiny than backseat romance: together with the Autobots he must try and save the world.

After the unintentional hilarity of 'Pearl Harbor', some may have wondered if director Michael Bay was the man to give the Transformers the celluloid treatment they deserved. But Bay has justified his $150m budget with a film that proves to be as likeable as it is loud.

Special effects-wise 'Transformers' is incredible - the CGI of the Autobots and the Decepticons is so seamless that you wonder if the robots socialised in their trailers between takes or kept to themselves. This being Bay ('Armageddon', 'The Rock') every bang is bigger than the last, every set piece is more audacious and throughout you'll marvel at just what all the people behind the scenes have achieved.

But 'Transformers' has more going for it than just a techno fetish and action. Sure there are lots of completely unnecessary characters and some dull scenes, but there are also two things that give this blockbuster a lot of unexpected charm: its humour and LaBeouf.

In the 21-year-old Bay has a great young actor who anyone would cheer on. Having shown his dramatic range in the recent 'A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints', here he presents his popcorn credentials, showing how good he is at both comedy and action. He's as big a star of this film as the robots and there are plenty of laughs between them throughout - on this evidence he's going to be a great sidekick for Harrison Ford in 'Indiana Jones 4'.

That blockbuster, however, is nearly a year away, so, for this summer, content yourself with this one. It's so over-the-top, so street-destroying and so stupidly enjoyable that it would be a shame not to see it. You might even find yourself rummaging in that toy box in the attic afterwards.

Harry Guerin