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

Trancers II (1991, dir. Charles Band)

Jack Deth battles a nemesis in present-day LA, while dealing with future complications. Tatty straight-to-video sequel with only glimmers of the vim of the original. A shame, as there’s some good ideas, plus a decent cult movie cast, though they don’t all have much to do. Further episodes followed.

Here’s the trailer

Trancers (1984, dir. Charles Band)

A vengeful 23rd-century ex-cop is sent to 1984 LA to capture the man who killed his wife. Zesty low-budget The Terminator variant with a sense of humour and of being playful with its budget limitations. Loads of fun, a few satiric jabs, and great lead performances. Five sequels followed.

Here’s the trailer.

Monster Hunter (2020, dir. Paul WS Anderson)

An army ranger is transported to another dimension, where she must battle giant creatures. Okay and often handsome video game franchise adaptation, efficiently-enough riffing on everything from Aliens to Beetlejuice via Starship Troopers: well-tailored for an international action market, if a touch po-faced in execution for the most part.

Here’s the trailer.

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.