FASTEN your seatbelts, the Transformers are back. But don’t fasten them too tightly, you might just be riding a robot in disguise.

Under the guiding vision of Michael Bay, the Transformers film series ushered a decade of profitability for both Paramount Pictures and Hasbro. Even as critics bemoaned the series’ increasingly risible returns, the films raked in box office big bucks and sent toys and merchandise flying off the shelves.

Following 2017’s diabolically poor The Last Knight, however, Bay stepped back from the fore to allow a new director a play in the toy box. Bay remained a producer for Bumblebee, which released the next year, but it was the lighter and more constrained eye of Kubo and the Two Strings director Travis Knight sitting in the drivers’ seat. The result was dynamite.

To the intense shock of exasperated critics the world over, Bumblebee was great. A genuine, well crafted and heartfelt tribute to the toys and youngsters who played with them through cross generational childhoods. That and a rollocking action adventure with a charming lead pairing in Bumblebee and Marvel’s Hailee Steinfeld.

Steinfeld is out for the sequel, with Knight too retiring to Laika to oversee another stop motion 'toon. In their stead, Anthony Ramos serves as the film’s human lead, playing Noah, an ex-military electronics expert, with Creed II director Steven Caple Jr. behind the camera.

Set seven years on from Bumblebee, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts sees Noah team up with Optimus Prime and his rabble of Autobots in the name of saving the whole planet from a new threat capable of destroying it. They can’t hope to do this alone, however, and must call upon an Earthbound robot collective known as the Mammals.

Head scratching jargon and exposition are par for the course in Rise of the Beasts and do the film’s better qualities no favours. Once again, this is far superior entertainment to the crash, bang, wallop days of Bay’s directorship.

Sublime visual effects pair with likeable leads, who, if nothing else, prove themselves well worth rooting for. Even as things build to a destructive climax, restraint behind the narrative ensures the line of excess goes uncrossed.

When the final note does come, watch for a saga changing twist. It’s either a thrilling development or tiresome left turn, dependent on one’s predilection. Only time will tell.