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.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019, dir. Joachim Ronning)

Aurora and Phillip are to be wed; but war between humans and fairy folk is threatened. Plodding sequel that substitutes mythos expansion for story. The chief fresh inspiration plundered here is Avatar, of all things. A decent cast does what it can with the material provided, but this is a franchise-killer.