The Amazing Mr Blunden (2021, dir. Mark Gatiss)

A family is invited to become caretakers of a haunted country house. Solid and entertaining second version of the story, balancing the 1972 original and Antonia Barber’s source novel The Ghosts. No surprises, perhaps, but Gatiss’s control of the material and his affection for it is well in evidence throughout.

Here’s the trailer

The Princess Bride (1987, dir. Rob Reiner)

A grandfather reads a fairy story of true love to his ill grandson. Excellent distillation of the William Goldman novel, with the right balance of thrills, jokes, well-sketched characters, and a cast that knows exactly the movie they’re in. Lots of fun throughout.

Here’s the trailer

A Boy Called Christmas (2021, dir. Gil Kenan)

A woodcutter’s son journeys to find hope to save his father and his kingdom. Very straightforward festive origin fantasy shamelessly lifted structure-wise from The Princess Bride. A decent cast helps no end: the flick relies on professional support for its scant charm.

Here’s the trailer.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016, dir. Ang Lee)

A troubled war hero about to be redeployed struggles with life in America. Its glossy direction and staging notwithstanding, this is an at-times awkward drama that doesn’t offer much new except in its good intentions and immaculate technical credits. Perhaps an indication that not all novels are translatable to film.

Here’s the trailer.

Chaos Walking (2021, dir. Doug Liman [and Fede Alvarez])

On a world where male thoughts are visualised, a young man helps a stranded female astronaut. Ham-fisted loose adaptation of Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go. OK performances help, but a cut-and-shut script and dangling subplots evidence the movie’s troubled production.

Here’s the trailer.

The Midnight Sky (2020, dir. George Clooney)

A dying physicist attempts to get a message to a returning spacecraft. Lop-sided though well-meant SF drama, an adaptation of Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. The story’s wafer-thin, so has to resort to tickbox genre jeopardy done better elsewhere. A shame, as there’s a fine, quiet drama here somewhere.

Here’s the trailer.

Galveston (2018, dir. Mélanie Laurent)

A dying criminal finds himself on the run with a young woman. Smart, low key hardscrabble crime drama from the Nic Pizzalatto novel. Can’t quite decide to go for arthouse or for jailhouse, but worth your time nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.

SAS: Red Notice (2021, dir. Magnus Martens)

An SAS officer is caught in a Channel Tunnel train hijack overseen by disgruntled mercenaries. Boorish, overlong action thriller that’s both hideously contrived and has some properly dumb ideas. A decent TV-ish cast and some effective stunt work help, but this is clunky, obvious stuff throughout.

Here’s the trailer.

The Dig (2021, dir. Simon Stone)

1939. With England on the cusp of war, an excavator is hired for a private archaeological dig. Good-looking and well-acted though slight reimagining of the Sutton Hoo site discovery, hampered by a busy script that doesn’t care to fillet the source novel to make a film-shaped story.

Here’s the trailer.

News Of The World (2020, dir. Paul Greengrass)

An itinerant Civil War veteran volunteers to take an orphaned child to distant family. Handsome, straightforward, elegiac and allegorical Western. Light on story, perhaps, but does what it needs to do at its own pace. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.