Abduction (2019, dir. Ernie Barbarash)

Two men work to find missing family members; an interdimensional conspiracy is revealed. Modest Vietnam-set martial arts action with an SF/fantasy twist. No dafter than, say, Doctor Strange, but interesting to see attempted at this budget level. Very competent fight choreography is the selling point here. Ignore the poster; nothing to do with the movie!

Sea Fever (2019, dir. Neasa Hardiman)

A PhD student seconded to a fishing vessel makes an unusual aquatic discovery. While the script can’t quite get to grips with genre storytelling, there’s a lot to enjoy initially, not least with the cast of character actors and excellent use of location and the main fishing vessel environment.

The Arrival (1996, dir. David Twohy)

A disgraced radio astronomer is convinced that alien communications are being received. Quirky SF/horror hybrid with plenty of daft ideas and enough visual interest to keep you watching. No classic, but fun.

Batman Returns (1992, dir. Tim Burton)

Batman encounters Catwoman and The Penguin, who is being manipulated to become mayor of Gotham City. Darker, confident sequel, with a pervy streak a mile wide running right through it. Pushing the limits of weirdness for a tentpole release, Batman Returns is both a franchise and genre high point.

Batman (1989, dir. Tim Burton)

Batman creates – and battles – the Joker. Mixing expressionism, noir, Hammer horror and pop art, the 1989 Batman is well-tailored from patches and the need to service a guest villain performance, even if it doesn’t really have a story. Still fun, tho, with a lovely mix of technologies working together. Best of all, it feels like a comic book. Sequels followed.

The Old Guard (2020, dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood)

Near-immortal warriors induct a new recruit, while being hunted for their DNA. Patchy superhero-ish flick from a graphic novel. The film can’t decide whose story this is, telling the veteran’s and the newbie’s, rather than focusing. The result is overlong and slow, but with strong moments, a badass declaration of love, and some solid action.

The Vast of Night (2020, dir. Andrew Patterson)

A 1950s small town’s radio DJ and switchboard operator track a mysterious transmission. Clever SF drama told with both intimacy and verve, as well as featuring some remarkable camerawork. An impressive debut, signalling those involved as ones to watch. Recommended.

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Underwater (2020, dir. William Ewbank)

A deep underwater drilling platform is compromised; survivors try to escape. Derivative but effective SF/horror piece, taking Alien and sequels as its jumping-off point. Well-designed, with some solid jumpscares and a sturdy lead performance. Pleasingly efficient throughout, if by no means a game-changer.

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019, dir. Jake Kasdan)

Spencer and friends – and others – return to Jumanji. Okay threequel (part 4 if you count Zathura) that focuses on action-comedy and on bodyswap gags rather than plot. Oldsters De Vito and Glover add some kvetchy class, and series newcomer Awkwafina is a standout. CG is variable, but interesting design elements and some affection for the characters helps things along.

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Schlock [AKA Banana Monster] (1973, dir. John Landis)

A revived prehistoric apeman terrorises California. Episodic and absurdist, while directly spoofing 2001, King Kong, Frankenstein and a host of other movies, Schlock has some ramshackle charm and a few strong sequences, plus a well-realised creature at its heart, and a clear love of monster flicks powering it.