Jolt (2021, dir. Tanya Wexler)

A woman who controls her extreme anger issues via a high-tech electrical device investigates a murder. Poor sub-Crank action-comedy: a decent cast helps (several in one-set cameos), but (some OK) quips, poor action, over-direction, the world’s most guessable villain, and stagey visuals don’t. Feels like a TV pilot: has that Nu Boyana aesthetic.

Here’s the trailer.

Bacarau (2019, dir. Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles)

A remote village is beset by a series of unexplained deaths. Part Brazilian political allegory, part weird western, part body-count horror with SF touches, Bacarau is tremendous throughout, looks great, makes you think, and has Udo Kier on fine form. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

Guns Akimbo (2019, dir. Jason Lei Howden)

A loser programmer find himself in a real-world socially-mediated assassination video game. Frenetic but patchy slapstick action-comedy. Little sense of tone, stakes, internal logic or of pacing, so the energy is misplaced and the excellent cast work against the movie, not with it. Gamer meets Shoot Em Up-ish, though much less ultimately than either.

Here’s the trailer.

A Quiet Place Part II (2020, Dir. John Krasinski)

A worthwhile sequel that follows the events of A Quiet Place. A tad more fleshed out and confident, this film eventually borrows too many tropes from other movies and video games – particularly the latter – and lacks the plot to deliver on them. Still a great central premise – worth watching.

The Tomorrow War (2021, dir. Chris McKay)

A science teacher is recruited to fight a war that won’t happen for thirty years. Overlong, derivative (everything from Saving Private Ryan to The Thing gets pillaged) and at-times clunky SF/horror/war flick. The action is terrific throughout (and worth watching once for that alone), but the movie doesn’t know when to stop.

Here’s the trailer.

Awake (2021, dir. Mark Raso)

A dysfunctional mother tries to protect her unique child after a freak event which prevents people from sleeping. Patchy Bird Box/Children of Men variant that struggles to tell its miniseries story within a movie running time. A decent (if not always well-used) cast and a few nicely weird moments help, tho.

Here’s the trailer.

Oxygen [AKA Oxygène / O2] (2021, dir. Alexandre Aja)

A woman wakes inside a futuristic sealed pod: she is running out of air. Like a near-future spin on Buried, this works hard to maximise its single location conceit and ticking clock/real time elements. A series of escalating problems and pressures well-handled, and a resolution that plays fair.

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.

Marooned [AKA Space Travelers] (1969, dir. John Sturges)

A US space vehicle suffers a failure prior to re-entry: NASA works on solving the problem. Stolid SF drama trying to present a realistic version of an Apollo-ish space race-era disaster possibility. Slow and serious, and not especially dramatic as a consequence.

Here’s the trailer.

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013, dir. JJ Abrams)

Attacks on Starfleet propel Kirk and crew into a manhunt in Klingon territory. Second of the alt-timeline reboot film series works fine as a pacy SF adventure with plenty of comedy to counterpoint the action, though struggles – as before – with its villainy and a need to over-reference its predecessors. A third movie followed.

Here’s the trailer.