Carrying a heavy legacy of numerous interpretations of Batman in “Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders”

Rick Morales, “Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders” (2016) The series of Batman films by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher in the 1990s and by Christopher Nolan in the early 2000s, along with the various animated television series featuring the character and the astonishing array of criminals  he fights in not-so-fair Gotham City, revived interest …

The Quatermass Xperiment: an outdated science fiction / horror film that still has the power to terrify

Val Guest, “The Quatermass Xperiment” (1955) Filmed well over 60 years ago (at this time of writing), this film of alien-human possession remains a timeless inspiration in its not unsympathetic portrayal of a helpless astronaut overcome  by an extraterrestrial infection that turns him into a monster. While we modern Western audiences might laugh at the …

The Andromeda Strain: a lesson in how situations and the clash of characters generate drama and tension

Robert Wise, “The Andromeda Strain” (1971) Although made over 45 years ago, this science fiction film about a team of scientists battling to identify and contain an extraterrestrial microscopic life-form before it brings death and destruction across Earth can still teach modern movie-makers a lesson or two (or even more) about how to draw out …

The Shape of Water: a magic realist mash-up of several genres lays on identity politics and self-indulgence too thickly

Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water” (2017) Inspired by the famous Hollywood classic “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”, Mexican director Guillermo del Toro delivers his homage to that film and Hollywood’s Golden Age in this magic realist mash-up of horror, science fiction, romance, spy thriller, musical and political / social commentary.  The main …

“Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks” – a futuristic setting for a police-state society beset by political rivalries

Charles Norton, “Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks” (animated version, 2016) Originally filmed in live action in 1966, this Doctor Who adventure was the first to feature Patrick Troughton as the newly regenerated Time Lord forced to face his most deadly enemies the Daleks not long after he staggers to his feet and strains …

Downsizing: an uneven satirical science fiction comedy commenting on various social, economic and political issues

Alexander Payne, “Downsizing” (2017) For most viewers, perhaps the more interesting part of this long meandering film will be the first half in which main character Paul Sofranek (Matt Damon) decides to undergo miniaturisation for various reasons reflecting his status as a lower middle-class technocrat worker bee and the pressures that attach to that, and …

Animation and live action make “Doctor Who: Shada” a better story than the original plot would suggest

Pennant Roberts, “Doctor Who: Shada” (2017) Not often do particular adventures in the long-running “Doctor Who” television series which first ran from 1963 to 1988 and was then resurrected in the early 2000s achieve mythic status of their own through an unusual set of events but the story of “Shada”, originally scripted by the legendary …

Ghost in the Shell (dir. Rupert Sanders): generic origin story makes anime adaptation tired and formulaic

Rupert Sanders, “Ghost in the Shell” (2017) In adapting a major Japanese anime series into a potentially lucrative movie franchise, Hollywood opted for a standard origin story in which a main character, turned into a cyborg for a counter-terrorism unit, has recurrent memories of her past and tries to trace these memories in order to …

Blade Runner 2049: an absorbing and leisurely film on future societal trends despite a thin plot and lack-lustre characters

Denis Villeneuve, “Blade Runner 2049” (2017) In its own leisurely way, “Blade Runner 2049” is a very absorbing, even hypnotic film with stunningly beautiful sets that describe a post-modern Western society on the edge of collapse and obsolescence as it plunders and cannibalises its own past with hyper-technological bombast. Decay abounds whether it is in …