The Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud [AKA Max Cloud] (2020, dir. Martin Owen)

1990: a Brooklyn teenager is transported inside the 2D platform scrolling game she’s playing. Fun little space-based riff on the Jumanji movies, made with care and with an eye to maximising limited resources. A decent script and performances help, not least DTV action star Adkins enjoying spoofing himself.

Here’s the trailer.

Next (2007, dir. Lee Tamahori)

A Las Vegas stage magician with the ability to see into the near future is hunted by both the FBI and terrorists. High concept SF fantasy loosely based on a Philip K Dick story. The plot doesn’t really hang together, but as a series of chases, bluffs, and timey-wimey tricks, this is more than passable escapism.

Here’s the trailer.

Bill & Ted Face The Music (2020, dir. Dean Parisot)

The now middle-aged Wyld Stallyns have to travel the multiverse to save reality, their daughters, and their marriages. Unnecessary but still welcome threequel, with enough of a spin on the same plot as twice before to pass muster. Everyone’s having fun, and Winter is especially good.

Here’s the trailer.

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991, dir. Pete Hewitt)

Bill and Ted are threatened from the future: they journey to heaven and hell to save themselves, their princesses, and humanity. Solid sequel with just enough differentiation from before to keep matters fresh. William Sandler is great as a not so-grim Reaper. A belated third movie followed.

Here’s the trailer.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989, dir. Stephen Herek)

A slacker high-school garage band duo are lent a time machine so the future can be saved by their rock music. Affable time travel comedy with likeable leads, some wit and finesse in the writing, and lightness and clarity of purpose throughout. Two sequels followed.

Here’s the trailer.

Outland (1981, dir. Peter Hyams)

A new mining post security chief on a Jupiter moon investigates a series of deaths. A weak script and iffy science undermine this great-looking SF thriller (emulating Alien and clearly influential on early James Cameron). Doesn’t really deliver on its High Noon in Space promise.

Here’s the trailer.

Jiu Jitsu (2020, dir. Dimitri Logothetis)

An amnesic warrior monk is Earth’s chosen defender against an alien fighter. Ambitious though slightly tatty would-be martial comic-book arts epic. Plenty of fights (though little actual jiu jitsu) and some guest stars (Cage, Grillo, Jaa) in supporting roles: it’s basically a low-budget riff on Predator, though.

Here’s the trailer.

Sputnik (2020, dir. Egor Abramenko)

1983: a Soviet cosmonaut returns to Earth harbouring a parasite. Very watchable Alien/Quatermass Experiment hybrid, balancing SF horror with a developing romance and a modernist visual sensibility. Doesn’t add much to what we’ve seen before, perhaps, but distinctive in feel and look nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008, dir. Scott Derrickson)

An extraterrestrial ambassador arrives on Earth to determine humanity’s fate. Awkward remake of the 1950s SF classic which struggles to update Cold War paranoia with contemporary environmental threats. An over-reliance on CG spectacle and contrived family drama doesn’t help. Star Reeves is good, though.

Here’s the trailer.

The New Mutants (2020, dir. Josh Boone)

A young woman finds herself in a secure institution with four other teens, each with mutant powers. Horror-infused X-Men spinoff with a young adult spin: OK as far as it goes, though it’s talky, unfocused, and doesn’t really have a plot. Feels more like a TV series pilot than a self-contained movie (two sequels were planned).

Here’s the trailer.