Luca (2021, dir. Enrico Casarosa)

An Italian mer-boy swims away from his boring undersea life to the 1950s surface, where he meets an exciting new friend. Sunny but slight animated adventure revisiting ideas done much better by Pixar elsewhere. Still, it looks great, there’s a lovely Sacha Baron Cohen voice cameo, and there’s openness to a gay reading of the central relationship, which is an interesting element.

Here’s the trailer.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014, dir. Peter Jackson)

Thorin is driven mad by gold-lust as warring factions converge on Mt Erebor. The concluding part of the prequel trilogy is pretty much for fans only by this stage, though it’s nevertheless an impressively-mounted and extravagant action fantasy.

Here’s the trailer.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013, dir. Peter Jackson)

Bilbo and Thorin’s company reach Mount Erebor via Laketown. The middle instalment of the prequel trilogy is all the better for not having to worry about set-up, though it lacks a story of its own. Still, if well-heeled fantasy spectacle is your thing, then there’s plenty to enjoy here.

Here’s the trailer.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012, dir. Peter Jackson)

A home-loving halfling is recruited for a perilous quest. Beefed-up partial adaptation of the Tolkien children’s novel so that it acts as the first part of a Lord of the Rings prequel trilogy. The quieter parts work best, though this is an acceptable if somewhat bloated action fantasy in its own right.

Here’s the trailer.

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021, dir. Don Hall & Carlos López Estrada, with Paul Briggs and John Ripa)

A warrior princess embarks on a quest to unite five fractured kingdoms and repel their collective threat. A very straightforward fantasy drawing on South East Asian design and story influences. Some pleasures in the incidentals, but this is secondhand tick-box monomyth stuff throughout.

Here’s the trailer.

Another Earth (2011, dir. Mike Cahill)

While a doppelganger planet approaches Earth, a young woman’s and a bereaved composer’s lives become entangled. Odd little drama with SF/fantasy elements. Not sure it needs the space threat/opportunity context (apart from to finesse its ending), but there’s some lo-fi pleasure to be had here in the approach and lead performances.

Here’s the trailer.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian [AKA Night at the Museum 2] (2009, dir. Shawn Levy)

Larry and friends fight a reanimated pharaoh intent on conquering the world. Second and best of the family adventure flicks, not being saddled with set-up, and having confidence to play with its premise in fun and inventive ways. Highlights include Amy Adams and Hank Azaria, both revelling in their roles.

Here’s the trailer.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014, dir. Shawn Levy)

Larry, his son, and their museum friends go to London to return a magical talisman. Third time out and there are signs of franchise fatigue setting in: the new additions work best (Dan Stevens and a cameoing Hugh Jackman). Series fans won’t be disappointed, though it’s the same film as twice before in essence.

Here’s the trailer.

Palm Springs (2020, dir. Max Barbakow)

A man is resigned to being stuck in a temporal loop at a wedding. Solid SF/fantasy comedy with sharp edges. Smart playing, a fine soundtrack, and enough diversion from the Groundhog Day template all helps, as does a pleasingly amoral streak. JK Simmons and Dale Dickey are along for the ride.

Here’s the trailer.

Rocketman (2019, dir. Dexter Fletcher)

Biopic of Elton John, charting his rise to fame and his struggles with success, leading to addiction and recovery. And a chirpy fantasia it is too, daft and jolly and waspish and excessive enough to hint at the real Reg/Elton, while its involved producer/subject settles some scores along the way.

Here’s the trailer.