Black Widow (2021, dir. Cate Shortland)

Natasha Romanoff reunites with her estranged fake family to disrupt a post-Soviet Russian agent programme. Patchy Marvel SF/spy adventure (the first Phase 4 movie) awkwardly balancing dysfunctional familial bickering and action set-pieces. A strong cast helps, as does a relatively low-stakes approach and some attempts at character.

Here’s the trailer.

Freaky (2020, dir. Christopher Landon)

An awkward teenager and a serial killer swap bodies. Superior horror-comedy, maximising the potential of its Freaky Friday-meets-high school slasher conceit, along the lines of Landon’s earlier mashup Happy Death Day. Plenty of fun, a few straightforward though relevant points made, and zippy lead performances help no end.

Here’s the trailer.

Infinite (2021, dir. Antoine Fuqua)

A man with mental health issues finds that he is the current incarnation of an immortal, and that a war wages for Earth’s survival. Clumsy and often incoherent Highlander / The Matrix / The Old Guard wannabe for lovers of the later Fast and the Furious movies. No-one comes out of this with much dignity. Not great at all.

Here’s the trailer.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021, dir. Adam Wingard)

An expedition to Earth’s hollow centre searches for a power source critical to fight the Titans. Following Godzilla: King of the Monsters, this series continuation pillages everything from At The Earth’s Core to, er, The Core. Some neat moments aside, though, this is uninvolving CG monster city battle gubbins with a decent cast stranded.

Here’s the trailer.

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.