Thunder Force (2021, dir. Ben Falcone)

Mismatched former best friends become superheroes after a laboratory mishap. Perhaps the most perfunctorily-plotted movie in recent history. McCarthy reprises her brash/embarrassed working class schtick, and there’s a few decent song-based jokes. A strong cast helps: Jason Bateman’s enjoying himself.

Here’s the trailer.

SAS: Red Notice (2021, dir. Magnus Martens)

An SAS officer is caught in a Channel Tunnel train hijack overseen by disgruntled mercenaries. Boorish, overlong action thriller that’s both hideously contrived and has some properly dumb ideas. A decent TV-ish cast and some effective stunt work help, but this is clunky, obvious stuff throughout.

Here’s the trailer.

Outland (1981, dir. Peter Hyams)

A new mining post security chief on a Jupiter moon investigates a series of deaths. A weak script and iffy science undermine this great-looking SF thriller (emulating Alien and clearly influential on early James Cameron). Doesn’t really deliver on its High Noon in Space promise.

Here’s the trailer.

Murder on the Orient Express (1974, dir. Sidney Lumet)

Hercule Poirot must investigate a killing on a luxury sleeper service. Handsome if slightly stagey and camp version of the Agatha Christie stalwart. An awkward backstory and too many starry suspects make for tricky telescoping of the novel, but fans won’t mind a bit.

Here’s the trailer. And a previous review.

Sputnik (2020, dir. Egor Abramenko)

1983: a Soviet cosmonaut returns to Earth harbouring a parasite. Very watchable Alien/Quatermass Experiment hybrid, balancing SF horror with a developing romance and a modernist visual sensibility. Doesn’t add much to what we’ve seen before, perhaps, but distinctive in feel and look nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.

The Yakuza (1974, dir. Sydney Pollack)

A former detective returns to Japan from the US: an old friend’s daughter under threat. Neither quite a neo-noir, an action thriller or a study of overseas crime syndicates, The Yakuza tries to be all three with variable results. Slow, but interesting, with flashes of a darker, better, and more violent film lurking.

Here’s the trailer.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers [AKA Halloween 6] (1995, dir. Joe Chapelle)

Michael’s niece has a child: the baby is at the centre of a cult’s attempts to harness the energies compelling Michael Myers. Some distance from the linear plotting of the first films, this conclusion to the arc begun in Part 4 is soapy, scrappy, scattershot: only for indulgent series and Paul Rudd completists.

Here’s the trailer.

Halloween 5 [AKA Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers] (1989, dir. Dominique Othenin-Girard)

Michael Myers returns again to Haddonfield, this time to kill his institutionalized niece, who is still traumatised from their previous encounter. Developing new plot ideas from its immediate predecessor, Part 5 struggles for coherence and focus throughout: by this stage of things the franchise is a weary beast indeed.

Here’s the trailer.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, dir. Steven Spielberg)

A suburban dad is drawn to a Wyoming mountain after a close encounter with an unidentified flying object. Still hugely-effective blend of heart and smarts: perhaps Spielberg’s most complete film, mixing technical excellence with quest narratives, hard SF and senses of innocence and wonder.

Here’s the trailer.

Better Watch Out (2017, dir. Chris Peckover)

A pre-teen and his babysitter find themselves in a hostage situation one Christmas. Gleeful mashup of Home Alone and The Strangers that plays fast with audience expectations of a Yuletide teen wish fulfilment black comedy siege horror flick. Does what it sets out to do with some gusto.

Here’s the trailer.