It’s time for Atlantis to reveal itself to the surface.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)   Or DCEU and the Lost Cinematic Universe. Any lingering traction post-Snyderverse DC movies held was torpedoed by the appointment of stone-dead James Gunn’s clone/CGI avatar as the rejuvenator of Warner Bros’ superhero fortunes. Consequently, collectively shrugging when $200m+ vehicles from the old guard bomb (The Flash) is par for the course; the attitude is near enough to “You should just be grateful it even warranted a release” (Batgirl). Thus, this sequel to a $1bn grosser, the biggest hit of the DCEU, ought on paper to have been a sure thing, one with the

Is Captain Marvel pressuring you in any way?

The Marvels (2023) In contrast, it seems, to many, I didn’t have a strong beef with Captain Marvel. It simply felt a tad tepid, going through the motions in “punching up” a formulaic plot with a functional retro-nostalgic (’90s) setting and an overpowered but really rather dull superhero(ine). It was the first example of an MCU title that felt entitled, one that had done nothing to earn its status, either through preceding reputation or by dint of star power/personality. Which was doubly injurious to its rep, trumpeted – belatedly, given it arrived a decade down the line – as the

Oh blimey, I thought I smelled cabbage.

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)   I had this pegged as perhaps the funniest of the trilogy, although the consensus seemed to have been that, even if grosses were higher, the series was increasingly running on fumes as it continued. These revisits re-positions the original as best, but Austin Powers in Goldmember comes in with a not-disrespectable silver. Some of it’s tired repetition, some of it’s inspired repetition, some of the original characters (the title one) give it a boost, while others (Beyoncé) are an outright drag. And, while passing the time, one is given to note what a lot

Me spuds are boiling.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)   My recollection is that I greeted this first sequel very positively, in contrast to, say, Empire magazine, never usually backwards in effusing over studio fare, which gave it a paltry 2 stars out of 5. The right answer’s probably somewhere between those positions. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is dependable for hitting the now-familiar Austin Powers beats and catchphrases (both verbal and visual), but it’s rarely very inspired. Indeed, one begins to notice other things about it, vying for attention and invariably winning out over the laughs. Fat Bastard:

What about synthetic unity?

Superman III (1983)   Cannon may have put the final nail in his coffin, but it was the Salkinds who killed Superman. Almost everything about Superman III (and Supergirl) suggests they fundamentally misunderstood the property they’d acquired and that the success of the 1978 film was a fluke (it’s perhaps no accident that they’re pissed off or fired many involved). And that the sequel’s salvaging was more luck than design (a clash of directorial approaches could have spelled disaster). Given a free rein here, Richard Lester lends Superman III all the worst reflexes of any Richard Pryor comedy of the

As it turns out, I have this affinity for beachfront property.

Superman II (1980)   The original… Well, the original release version. Richard Donner’s first Superman outing may have been no great visual shakes, but under Richard Lester’s – 50 percent-plus – direction, Superman II frequently boasts a cheerfully tacky quality that ups the humour and relishes the camp. In its considerable favour – and making it the more enjoyable of the two movies overall – is that it has supervillains, and most especially Terence as Superstamp, but as a piece of blockbuster entertainment, rubbing shoulders with Spielberg and Lucas productions, its lack of polish often leaves it looking like a

And you could even say that this party IS that interested party.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)   That a franchise bound up in the art of fakery and impersonation should enter its final (?) furlong taking all necessary measures to conceal the fate of its former star is perhaps appropriate. Even more so, that the plot hinges on an AI capable of impersonation. How many shots of Tom here are AI-assisted (or AI in their entirety)? The preponderance of the remainder, presumably, being his common-or-garden clone put through its paces. One thing’s for sure; the guy playing the Cruiser in public isn’t in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning

I don’t need morality lessons from an aging graverobber.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)   It’s very difficult to get worked up about Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’s overwhelming failure, both as a piece of entertainment and an Indiana Jones movie. Any investment in the franchise was exhausted long before Kathleen Kennedy began her wokifying crusade at Lucasfilm; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a profound disappointment, not just through George Lucas’ insistence on the odd-fit McGuffin/premise – resisted by Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford, which left the production in development hell from the early 1990s – but also the

He lets me crash in his dimension sometimes.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023)   Oh look, another “to be continued”. I’d hoped such wannabe cash grabs had permanently floundered after the post-Potter, post-Twilight finales failed to milk the desired returns (The Hunger Games’ appeal dipped after Catching Fire, while Divergent stumbled so badly, it didn’t even get its Allegiant Part II). We’ve already seen Fast X this summer, and there’s still Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part I to come. All of them bloated and overlong to, a greater or lesser extent. Into the Spider-Verse was a sharp, punchy animated breath of fresh air and Spider-Man: Across the

There is no God! That’s why I stepped in!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)   When it comes to the James Gunn avatar, this isn’t simply a case of maintaining the “business as usual” illusion we’re seeing with other recently-dead directors. Affleck, Spielberg and Tarantino can be dusted off for the odd individual project, but Gunn has been installed as the head of a studio. He is, to whatever eventual end, being used as signage. And signage with specific regard to the superhero genre. Whether that’s to ensure the final nail in its coffin (and so crumble Hollywood to rubble in the process) or to use him