Black Widow (2021, dir. Cate Shortland)

Natasha Romanoff reunites with her estranged fake family to disrupt a post-Soviet Russian agent programme. Patchy Marvel SF/spy adventure (the first Phase 4 movie) awkwardly balancing dysfunctional familial bickering and action set-pieces. A strong cast helps, as does a relatively low-stakes approach and some attempts at character.

Here’s the trailer.

Settlers (2021, dir. Wyatt Rockefeller)

An off-world family living on a desert homestead comes under attack from strangers. Episodic SF western drama. Strong technical credits and decent performances help, though story is the issue here: Moon is a clear inspiration. Nevertheless, effective as a calling card.

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.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021, dir. Adam Wingard)

An expedition to Earth’s hollow centre searches for a power source critical to fight the Titans. Following Godzilla: King of the Monsters, this series continuation pillages everything from At The Earth’s Core to, er, The Core. Some neat moments aside, though, this is uninvolving CG monster city battle gubbins with a decent cast stranded.

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.

Portal [AKA Doors] (2021, dir. Saman Kesh, Jeff Desom, Sugan O’Neal)

Three stories each set during and in the aftermath of the same extra-terrestrial invasion event. A very mixed bag, this: moments of interest compete with awkward linking, a reliance on stock footage to give scale, and a terrible second story. Still, it’s only 80 minutes long in human time.

Here’s the trailer.

A Quiet Place, Part II (2020, dir. John Krasinski)

Evelyn and her family flee their farm and soon encounter new problems, human and alien. Direct continuation (with some prequel material) of the first movie. Generally solid, even if there’s some awkwardness with an episodic plot and story geography. Nevertheless, the playing is strong, and Krasinski is adept at both suspense and shock moments.

Want another perspective? We’ve got you.

And here’s the trailer.

Boss Level (2021, dir. Joe Carnahan)

An ex-soldier caught in a time loop fights to save his wife and child. Slightly wobbly Groundhog Day / Source Code variant, heavy on slapstick kills. Tonally all over the shop, which is a shame. Frank Grillo is as good value as ever, though, and there’s a strong supporting cast, plus some decent action choreography late on.

Here’s Lemonsquirtle’s take.

And here’s the trailer.

Freejack (1992, dir. Geoff Murphy)

A race driver is time-jumped to near-future 2009, where his body has been requisitioned for transplant purposes. Ramshackle chase thriller with SF trappings. Some fun in the casting and in odd moments, but this is nevertheless tatty and derivative: a troubled production, as this was, can leave scar tissue.

Here’s the trailer.