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.

Godzilla (2014, dir. Gareth Edwards)

Earth is threatened by MUTOs (massive unidentified terrestrial organisms), awoken by human nuclear activity. Superior monster mayhem anchored by a fabulous visual sensibility, and by a genuine feeling of otherness between the creatures and us. Story-light, and a touch serious, but properly spectacular, nevertheless. Sequels ensued.

Terminator: Genisys (2015, dir. Alan Taylor)

Time-travelling freedom fighters attempt to prevent a digital apocalypse in near-future (2017) San Francisco. Muddled series reboot saddled with awkward plotting, key unanswered questions, and too many borrowings. Only JK Simmons brings some fun in support.

Venom (2018, dir. Ruben Fleischer)

Journalist Eddie Brock is infected by an alien parasite; an uneasy alliance is formed. Mostly fun horror-comedy with a whiff of the first Quatermass story. A clunky third act and obvious subplots slow matters down, but the scuzzy ambience and Hardy’s performance help.

Another perspective needed? Here’s Xussia’s.

 

I, Robot (2004, dir. Alex Proyas)

In 2035, a robot-hating detective investigates the suicide of a tech genius. CG-heavy SF action thriller based very loosely on Isaac Asimov stories. Some interesting¬†production design, but linear and clunky plotting make this hollow, despite star Will Smith’s obvious charisma.

The Enforcer (1976, dir. James Fargo)

Dirty Harry Callahan Рnow with a female partner Рtakes on a terrorist cell holding San Francisco to ransom. Third in the series, and the decline has set in; a straightforward and at times brutal actioner with some moments of cynical humour to redeem it.

Finders Keepers (2014, dir. Alexander Yellen)

A child of divorced parents becomes possessed by a demonic doll. Clumsy horror unable to deliver on scares, gore, dread, or much interior logic despite a mounting body count and a decent supporting turn from Tobin Bell. Meh.

The Circle (2017, dir. James Ponsoldt)

A perfect job opportunity at a Facebook-ish company goes awry. Muted adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel that gets some things right (the casting, the production design) but fails in delivering either a propulsive narrative or in nailing the book’s ending.

Big Hero 6 (2014, dir. Don Hall & Chris Williams)

A boy genius – and his personal care robot – battle the supervillain who’s stolen his invention. Slick, straightforward, and gorgeous to look at, this manga-influenced Disney ‘toon is a linear but fun ride, with some effective emotional moments.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014, dir. Matt Reeves)

Ten years after the events of Rise, apes and humans come into contact with each other. Superior monkey military parable fun, with hawks and doves in human and ape camps alike, arguing for armageddon and peace respectively. Inevitably, though, war erupts.