To make the plot of Transformers: The Last Knight easier for you to understand than it was for us, you need to know that King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, along with the wizard Merlin (played by Stanley Tucci, mind you), actually had their power bestowed upon them by an ancient race of Transformers via the Staff of Quintessa.

Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is now in hiding with a group of Autobots he’s rescued and winds up in possession of a strange amulet that binds itself to his body. He also adopts an orphaned girl, Izabella (Isabela Moner), who knows her way around a toolbox and has an attitude to match.

Yeager ends up crossing paths with English mare Vivian (Laura Haddock) – who, as it turns out, is the last living descendant of Merlin. She’s been recruited to the cause by Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins), a bound secret keeper for the Transformers and their presence on Earth.

When old Optimus Prime finally reaches Cybertron (following the events of Age of Extinction), he’s brainwashed by Quintessa to take over the Earth and plunder its resources to rebuild his home planet. Vivian and Cade therefore become humanity’s last hope.

If all this sounds messy, that’s because it is. Bad writing and bored actors suggest that at some point during the last ten years, the Transformers franchise has lost its way. Events in The Last Knight seem to exist solely to serve the plot, which can’t even decide who the antagonist actually is. Megatron is no longer threatening, and changing the voice actor does him no favours. Even cameos from Simmons (John Turturro) and Lennox (Josh Duhamel) can’t save this one.

Transformers: The Last Knight is a Michael Bay movie, which means lots of wide sunset shots, a pounding soundtrack, chaotic editing, and more pyrotechnics than New Year’s Eve in Sydney. The robots themselves still look great, but some of the smaller-scale CGI stuff appears slightly rushed.

If the franchise is to continue, Bay will have to start scouring for more obscure historical events to attribute to the Autobots and Decepticons. And if the post-credits scene is anything to go by, this doesn’t seem to be the end for these robots in disguise. Sigh.

In cinemas: June 22, 2017
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock
Directed by: Michael Bay