F9: The Fast Saga (a.k.a Fast and Furious 9) (2021, Dir. Justin Lin)

Ridiculous extension of the tired franchise. So bereft of new ideas it borrows from its own cannon. The result is 2hrs of absurd plot contrivances, gravity defying stunt stupidity, terrible scripting and horrible acting from everyone. Cena is especially wooden and bloody awful. For die hard F&F fans only.

Stargate (1994, dir. Roland Emmerich)

An ancient Egyptian artefact proves to access a wormhole to a distant planet: a team investigates. Cheerfully unpretentious blockbuster, nicking bits of business from everything from Lawrence of Arabia to Aliens via Erich von Daniken. A great David Arnold score and a solid cast help no end.

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.

Big Trouble in Little China (1986, dir. John Carpenter)

A blowhard trucker finds himself in the middle of a magical conflict in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Still-fun mock-heroic action fantasy, with some respect for its influences and its tongue in its cheek throughout. If you go with it, this is still a great 100 minutes, though inevitably it’s not for all.

Another view wanted? Here you go.

Once Upon A Time In … Hollywood (2019, dir. Quentin Tarantino)

In 1969 LA, a fading action star struggles with his future prospects. A stunning evocation of late 60s Hollywood, packed with ideas, in-jokes, good ideas, and pop-culture geekery. A shaggy dog story that meanders, but which goes into some startling – and just-about justified – places. Recommended: later novelised by Tarantino.

The Christmas Chronicles (2018, dir. Clay Kaytis)

After setting a trap to catch Santa, two squabbling siblings have to help him save Christmas. Patchy Yuletide offering with few surprises. Russell does what he can with an indifferent script, but this is no classic. A sequel followed two years later.

Escape From New York (1981, dir. John Carpenter)

An infamous criminal is sent into the island prison of Manhattan to rescue the US President. Defiantly odd post-apocalyptic piece, much happier with its production design and oddball characters than delivering on action/horror. Not quite the film you remember.

Deepwater Horizon (2016, dir. Peter Berg)

Drama based on the true story of a drilling rig disaster. Another effective Berg/Wahlberg collaboration after Lone Survivor (and the subsequent Patriots’ Day) that tells a true-life tale with an emphasis on ordinary people, camaraderie, and a little patriotism.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017, dir. James Gunn)

Peter Quill meets his father. Somewhat underpowered sequel, relying on soap operatics and the banter between crewmates plus audience goodwill to mask a weak narrative. Some fun while it’s on, but this is no great shakes; a disappointment, really.