The Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud [AKA Max Cloud] (2020, dir. Martin Owen)

1990: a Brooklyn teenager is transported inside the 2D platform scrolling game she’s playing. Fun little space-based riff on the Jumanji movies, made with care and with an eye to maximising limited resources. A decent script and performances help, not least DTV action star Adkins enjoying spoofing himself.

Here’s the trailer.

Next (2007, dir. Lee Tamahori)

A Las Vegas stage magician with the ability to see into the near future is hunted by both the FBI and terrorists. High concept SF fantasy loosely based on a Philip K Dick story. The plot doesn’t really hang together, but as a series of chases, bluffs, and timey-wimey tricks, this is more than passable escapism.

Here’s the trailer.

Bill & Ted Face The Music (2020, dir. Dean Parisot)

The now middle-aged Wyld Stallyns have to travel the multiverse to save reality, their daughters, and their marriages. Unnecessary but still welcome threequel, with enough of a spin on the same plot as twice before to pass muster. Everyone’s having fun, and Winter is especially good.

Here’s the trailer.

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991, dir. Pete Hewitt)

Bill and Ted are threatened from the future: they journey to heaven and hell to save themselves, their princesses, and humanity. Solid sequel with just enough differentiation from before to keep matters fresh. William Sandler is great as a not so-grim Reaper. A belated third movie followed.

Here’s the trailer.

Jiu Jitsu (2020, dir. Dimitri Logothetis)

An amnesic warrior monk is Earth’s chosen defender against an alien fighter. Ambitious though slightly tatty would-be martial comic-book arts epic. Plenty of fights (though little actual jiu jitsu) and some guest stars (Cage, Grillo, Jaa) in supporting roles: it’s basically a low-budget riff on Predator, though.

Here’s the trailer.

The Christmas Chronicles, Part 2 [AKA The Christmas Chronicles 2] (2020, dir. Chris Columbus)

Two years on, and an unhappy Kate Pierce is kidnapped by a cast-out elf aiming to get revenge on Santa. Sprawling grab-bag sequel, mashing up Milton, Gremlins and a hundred other properties. Messy and uncoordinated, though Kurt Russell is having fun, plus he gets another Blues Brothers-ish singalong set piece.

Here’s the trailer.

Dolittle (2020, dir. Stephen Gaghan)

A reclusive naturalist and doctor voyages to find a fabled fruit so he can save the life of the young Queen Victoria. Genuinely terrible revisioning of the Hugh Lofting talks-to-animals character: a movie assembled from multiple reshoots and dubbing sessions. Michael Sheen is fun as the villain, but that’s about it.

Here’s the trailer.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Here’s Xussia’s review.

Fatman (2020, dir. Eshom Nelms & Ian Nelms)

A spoiled child takes out a contract on Santa, who is struggling with responsibilities and finances. Odd black comedy mix of action, fantasy and character study that works if you go with it, though not for all. Still, it’s well-made, with plenty of interesting ideas, and not self-conscious about its cult potential.

Here’s the trailer.

Beyond The Gates (2016, dir. Jackson Stewart)

Chalk-and-cheese brothers encounter a mysterious VHS board game that may be linked to their father’s disappearance. Jumanji meets From Beyond, kinda, in this modest 80s-throwback fantasy-horror. Starts slow, and doesn’t have the resources to realise its premise, but fun for genre fans nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.

Brave (2012, dir. Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman, with Steve Purcell)

A headstrong tomboyish princess battles with her mother when she is to be betrothed for political reasons. Perhaps the most Disneyish Pixar movie to date, Brave benefits from its focus on mother/daughter relationships and from a dark magical turn that sits awkwardly with the knockabout stuff elsewhere.

Here’s the trailer.