The Transformers film franchise kicked off in 2007 with the kind of big, dumb, summer fun moviegoers craved—eye-popping visual effects, explosive action sequences, and the nostalgic thrill of seeing our favorite anthropomorphic alien robots from childhood on the big screen. Director Michael Bay’s frenetic camera work and over-the-top set pieces defined that first installment and set the tone for an ongoing barrage of sequels steadily growing dumber, louder, and more incoherent with each new entry.

The initial charm of seeing the intergalactic war between Autobots and Decepticons play out amidst visually-stunning battles made the lack of substantive plot and character development forgivable as a means of translating the popular cartoon/toy line’s simple good vs. evil premise to live-action spectacle. However, as the franchise trucks on through six total films (so far), that vapid approach has grown stale and the flaws have become glaringly apparent.

Beyond the first and perhaps third installment, the Transformers sequels have fully devolved into mindless, twisted metal demolition derbies of epic proportthe larger aim of future installments is simply re-heating those empty calories rather than bothering to concoct anything nutritious. While the computer-generated visual effects representing the Transformers characters continue to dazzle, the stakes of their interminable clashes as thin as the diaphanous clouds of smoke they kick up.

The barrage of aggressively gigantic explosions, city demolitions, and indecipherable blurs of alien machinery punching each other ad nauseam fails to amount to anything substantive as any vague callbacks to the Transformers’ rich sci-fi lore are rendered incomprehensible amidst the relentless sound and fury. By the latter sequels, even the attempts of incorporating new human characters and subplots feel tokenized simply because a few scattered human B-stories are obligatorily crammed into every Transformers film before the focus swiftly shifts back to the shallow spectacle of mass detritus.

Perhaps most criminally, the latest installments have completely abandoned even a pretense at constructing a cohesive, vaguely coherent overarching storyline connecting the films’ events. At a certain point, even the most forgiving fan has to acknowledge that the Transformers movies have sanded down all narrative nuance and detail. The franchise now basks fully in torching its remaining credibility in an effort to generate empty blockbuster fumes of blaring robot mayhem.

For a series that once represented the shiny possibilities of bringing a beloved kids’ classic to life on the big screen, Transformers has slowly self-cannibalized into a lumbering, mechanical exercise of self-parody. While today’s originating entries showed signs of inspired imagination, the sequels have done little more than pound that creative potential into the pavement through crass excess—another unfortunate casualty consumed by the Hollywood mainstream’s addiction to overblown noise and spectacle devoid of quality substance.