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.

Sunshine (2007, dir. Danny Boyle)

A last-ditch effort to restart the Sun through deploying a nuclear device goes awry. Handsome though derivative SF that can’t decide if it’s an arthouse piece or a mainstream thriller. In trying to be both, and in quoting from Alien, 2001, 2010, Silent Running, Event Horizon, Dark Star and others along the way, it struggles for clarity and distinctiveness.

The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019, dir. Armando Iannucci)

The multiple lives (and names) of a young man. Meta riff on the Dickens novel which pretty much all hangs together. A touch too episodic – not much by way of narrative drive – but that’s all part of the pleasure, even if it means there’s some emotional distance from the characters. Everyone is obviously enjoying themselves.

Gemini Man (2019, dir. Ang Lee)

An elite assassin on the verge of retirement is targeted for execution. A good-looking action flick that takes ages to tell us what the poster does. One great action sequence aside, it’s underpowered, though a game support cast of Brit character actors do their best with none-more-90s material.

The Martian (2015, dir. Ridley Scott)

An astronaut is marooned alone on Mars; he develops a plan to survive. Smart, funny and upbeat space peril movie with winning ensemble performances, clean visuals, and a diligent script from the Andy Weir bestseller. A thoroughly professional and entertaining job all round.

Prometheus (2012, dir. Ridley Scott)

A deep space mission to engage with humanity’s distant ancestors finds more than it bargained. Great-looking but ultimately dumb and pretentious Alien prequel, with a fine cast largely wasted on a grab-bag script of variable ideas. Alien: Covenant followed in 2017,

Doctor Strange (2016, dir. Scott Derrickson)

A vain medic discovers new powers after searching for a cure for lost surgical skills. Satisfactory origin story which suffers from having its source material plundered by other popcult properties, tho gets revenge by borrowing world-bending imagery from Inception.

Fancy a second opinion? Here’s Lemonsquirtle’s take.