Scream [AKA Scream 5] (2022, dir. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett)

25 years after the original Woodsboro killings, a new series of murders. Cheerily meta sequel / reboot / remake, better with the self-aware jokes than with real suspense, despite a couple of inventive moments. Hard to care about the new cast or the murder-mystery element though, which robs the movie of impetus.

Here’s the trailer.

Moonfall (2022, dir. Roland Emmerich)

A conspiracist discovers the moon is on a collision course with Earth. Cheerfully shambolic SF disaster flick, cribbing from across the genre from Contact to The Core as well as from the director’s back catalogue. A sturdy cast of B-listers helps, with John Bradley being especially good value.

Here’s the trailer.

The Contractor (2022, dir. Tarek Saleh)

A discharged veteran with money problems reluctantly takes on a private contracting job. Terse thriller with action elements: the cast’s good, the action is handled in a no-nonsense manner, and there’s a pleasing downbeat tone. No surprises, but a decent programmer with subtext about post-military lives.

Here’s the trailer.

Blacklight (2022, dir. Mark Williams)

A veteran FBI agent becomes embroiled in a conspiracy involving the murder of a politician. Straightforward thriller with a couple of minor plot wrinkles and some decent lo-fi action and stuntwork. No game-changer, but works well enough within its self-imposed limitations.

Here’s the trailer.

KIMI [AKA Kimi] (2021, dir. Steven Soderbergh)

A tech home worker with agoraphobia and anxiety comes across evidence of a murder. A confident, contemporary Rear Window for the Alexa generation. A lean, assured, confident thriller, doing a simple thing impeccably in 90 minutes. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

The King’s Man (2021, dir. Matthew Vaughn)

The origins of an independent spy agency, set against the Great War. Messy and inconsistent prequel, showcasing series strengths (brio, some startling moments) and weaknesses (tonal awkwardness) in equal measure. A freewheeling approach to both history and emotion throughout render this flashy, but empty.

Here’s the trailer.

F9 [AKA F9: The Fast Saga; Fast & Furious 9] (2021, dir. Justin Lin)

The Torettos and friends search for a codebreaking device. More of the increasingly-interchangeable series: 150 minutes of soapy sentimentality, decent stuntwork, and terrible physics-worrying spectacle. Director Lin does what he can with the material tho, and there’s some fun moments from seasoned character actors like Shea Whigham.

Here’s the trailer. And here’s another view.

The Princess Bride (1987, dir. Rob Reiner)

A grandfather reads a fairy story of true love to his ill grandson. Excellent distillation of the William Goldman novel, with the right balance of thrills, jokes, well-sketched characters, and a cast that knows exactly the movie they’re in. Lots of fun throughout.

Here’s the trailer

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial [AKA E.T.] (1982, dir. Steven Spielberg)

A boy befriends a stranded alien. Still-powerful Christ allegory dressed up as a child-friendly sci-fi comedy. Works in all kinds of ways, and is technically astounding throughout. What shines is the quiet confidence on display, and Spielberg’s ability to tell story through character moments and shot composition. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer

Trancers II (1991, dir. Charles Band)

Jack Deth battles a nemesis in present-day LA, while dealing with future complications. Tatty straight-to-video sequel with only glimmers of the vim of the original. A shame, as there’s some good ideas, plus a decent cult movie cast, though they don’t all have much to do. Further episodes followed.

Here’s the trailer