No Time to Die (2021, dir. Cary Joji Fukunaga)

A retired Bond combats the threat of a stolen bioweapon. Last of the Craig-era pics, this is the Avengers: Endgame of Bond flicks, rounding out a loose five-film arc. Less successful as a stand-alone movie, but it tries something different, Craig and a guesting Ana de Armas are both great, and there’s neat moments aplenty among the bombast and soapy stuff.

Here’s the trailer.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, dir. Wes Anderson)

An aged hotelier recounts his life story. If Keaton and Kubrick ever teamed up to make a deadpan farce prequel to The Shining, then this’d be it. Beautiful to look it, gorgeously designed and presented, with a cast in depth happy to help out. Lots of fun, basically, with Ralph Fiennes on fine form.

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.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011, dir. David Yates)

Matters converge: a final stand at Hogwarts against Voldemort. The last part of the eight-film cycle delivers in terms of epic action sequences, resolutions for characters followed over multiple movies, and a decent coda; no real surprises, and nothing for outsiders, which is perhaps as it should be.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010, dir. David Yates)

Harry and friends, now on the run, must destroy the magical items sustaining Voldemort. The first half of the final novel – more or less – is a decent chase adventure, with a darker tone than before; the splitting of the source material allows for pacing to be improved, through the structure necessitates a forced cliffhanger bridge to Part 2.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005, dir. Mike Newell)

Harry is mysteriously selected to take part in a wizarding tournament at Hogwarts. Fourth and perhaps the best of the sequence, balancing a stand-alone story with the developing Voldemort narrative. Little for series entrants, but a confident and well-made movie for fans of the books and the films to date.

Holmes & Watson (2018, dir. Etan Cohen)

A celebrated detective battles a plot to assassinate Queen Victoria. A great cast, handsome production values and enthusiastic playing can’t save this mess, seemingly compiled from extensive on-set improvisations rather than a script. Inevitably, some fine moments, but this is a skit stretched to 90 minutes.

Red Dragon (2002, dir. Brett Ratner)

An FBI agent comes out of early retirement to catch a serial killer. Competent adaptation of the Thomas Harris novel (already filmed asĀ Manhunter), here styled as a prequel to The Silence of the Lambs. Over-familiar material means diminishing returns though, despite good work from cast and crew.

Skyfall (2012, dir. Sam Mendes)

Bond battles a former MI:6 agent intent on revenge on M. Superior series entry with lots to recommend it, not least a back-to-basics siege third act. A couple of wobbly moments (beware the oddly-empty tube car), but apart from those, this is superior genre entertainment.

Spectre (2015, dir. Sam Mendes)

A political attempt to neuter M16 is found to be the work of an enemy organisation. The first two acts work well, but the last hourĀ falls apart through trying to stitch the Craig-era Bond films into a single narrative with an awkwardly-revealed Blofeld at its centre.