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.

Turning Red (2022, dir. Domee Shi)

An adolescent girl finds she carries an ancient curse. Parts are great, but the central idea – a form of lycanthropy as metaphor for puberty – is bungled, and there’s a sense we should focus on the mother, not on protagonist Mei. That said, there’s some fun Backstreet Boys parodies and an ending riffing on Ghostbusters II.

Here’s the trailer.

The Adam Project (2022, dir. Shawn Levy)

A bullied 12-year-old is visited by his older self, now a time fugitive. Cheerful if overstuffed SF comedy, brazen in its lifts from everything 80s from ET to Firefox via Return of the Jedi. A decent cast play to their strengths and the movie gets by on its own through having its heart more or less on its sleeve throughout.

Here’s the trailer.

Black Friday (2021, dir. Casey Tebo)

Workers at a big box toy store come under siege from alien-infested zombie-ish shoppers. Sprightly modest 80s horror-comedy homage to The Thing and The Blob via Romero. Doesn’t quite hang together, but there’s some decent jokes plus game playing from DTV legends Bruce Campbell and Michael Jai White.

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.

Ron’s Gone Wrong (2021, dir. Sarah Smith & Jean-Philippe Vine, with Octavio E. Rodriguez)

A socially-awkward boy gets a robot companion, except it’s malfunctioning. Generally straightforward (there’s some interesting darker edges and jokes) CG animation E.T. variant, that’s well-made if not really distinctive enough to set it apart from the likes of Big Hero 6 or The Mitchells Vs The Machines.

Here’s the trailer.

Encanto (2021, dir. Jared Bush & Byron Howard, with Charise Castro Smith)

A Columbian family fractures when their magical powers weaken. Great-looking but derivative animation with too much tickbox Disney stuff, saddled with dull songs. Moments amuse, and the small scale gives focus, but there’s nothing here that Moana or Coco didn’t do ten times better.

Here’s the trailer.

The Suicide Squad (2021, dir. James Gunn)

Convicted DC supervillains are recruited to undertake a covert mission. Splashy flip splattery slapstick action comedy sequel, developing into a Ghostbusters variant. Some poetic moments help, though the crowded cast needs more time to breathe than can be given here.

Here’s the trailer.

Don’t Look Up (2021, dir. Adam McKay)

Astronomers struggle to get the government and the media to engage with an extinction-level event. Patchy and overlong Trump-era satire: when it hits, it hits hard, but there’s about 45 minutes too much baggy stuff here. More focus needed: that said, there are some game performances and a great song.

Here’s the trailer.

Carry On Matron (1972, dir. Gerald Thomas)

Thieves try to steal contraceptive pills from a maternity hospital. Fourth and last of the medical-themed Carry On flicks, this is a very straightforward farce with every pregnancy gag in the book ticked off, and with crossdressing opportunities cheerfully embraced.

Here’s the trailer.