The Matrix Resurrections (2021, dir. Lana Wachowski)

A computer games designer discovers he’s in a simulation. Meta belated sequel with some fun ideas about reboots, too much clumsy cod philosophy, and plenty of decent performances. However, poor action staging, awkward recasting of key roles, and weak storytelling undo good intentions.

Here’s the trailer.

Moonfall (2022, dir. Roland Emmerich)

A conspiracist discovers the moon is on a collision course with Earth. Cheerfully shambolic SF disaster flick, cribbing from across the genre from Contact to The Core as well as from the director’s back catalogue. A sturdy cast of B-listers helps, with John Bradley being especially good value.

Here’s the trailer.

Dune: Chapter One (2021, dir. Denis Villeneuve)

A desert planet with a fabled resource is given new custodians: a messiah figure may be among them. Impressive if slightly po-faced partial adaptation (Part Two is to come) of the Frank Herbert allegorical SF classic. Takes its time: the pacing is televisual rather than cinematic. However, it looks great, and a good cast plays to their strengths.

Here’s the trailer. And here’s another view.

Reminiscence (2021, dir. Lisa Joy)

A memory technician becomes obsessed with a nightclub singer. Somewhat laboured SF noir, indebted to Blade Runner, Chinatown, and – er – Who Framed Roger Rabbit, saddled with po-faced script and narration. Some visual stuff works (there’s one genuine moment of wonder) but the central mystery and its importance is bungled.

Here’s the trailer.

The Adam Project (2022, dir. Shawn Levy)

A bullied 12-year-old is visited by his older self, now a time fugitive. Cheerful if overstuffed SF comedy, brazen in its lifts from everything 80s from ET to Firefox via Return of the Jedi. A decent cast play to their strengths and the movie gets by on its own through having its heart more or less on its sleeve throughout.

Here’s the trailer.

Where Time Began [AKA Journey to the Centre of the Earth] (1978, dir. Juan Piquer Simon)

A professor and friends seek to trek to the Earth’s core via a volcano. Tatty Spanish-made version of the Jules Verne classic, with a slumming Kenneth More and a few threadbare puppet/man-in-suit monsters. Livens up later when the creatures show up, but this is talky, penny-pinching stuff throughout.

Here’s the trailer.

Demonic (2021, dir. Neill Blomkamp)

A woman comes to believe that her murderous comatose estranged mother is the victim of possession. Lacklustre SF horror with some okay if secondhand ideas (flicks like The Lawnmower Man, Brainstorm, and Dreamscape are touchstones). However it’s awkwardly plotted, silly rather than scary, and with a daft-looking demon.

Here’s the trailer.

Ron’s Gone Wrong (2021, dir. Sarah Smith & Jean-Philippe Vine, with Octavio E. Rodriguez)

A socially-awkward boy gets a robot companion, except it’s malfunctioning. Generally straightforward (there’s some interesting darker edges and jokes) CG animation E.T. variant, that’s well-made if not really distinctive enough to set it apart from the likes of Big Hero 6 or The Mitchells Vs The Machines.

Here’s the trailer.

The Suicide Squad (2021, dir. James Gunn)

Convicted DC supervillains are recruited to undertake a covert mission. Splashy flip splattery slapstick action comedy sequel, developing into a Ghostbusters variant. Some poetic moments help, though the crowded cast needs more time to breathe than can be given here.

Here’s the trailer.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial [AKA E.T.] (1982, dir. Steven Spielberg)

A boy befriends a stranded alien. Still-powerful Christ allegory dressed up as a child-friendly sci-fi comedy. Works in all kinds of ways, and is technically astounding throughout. What shines is the quiet confidence on display, and Spielberg’s ability to tell story through character moments and shot composition. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer