Your spy novels are cheesy crap!

Argylle (2024)   That Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn currently seem to be churning out interchangeably meta spy movies – with some of the same cast members – might be seen to imply that both are now functioning clones – along with, quite possibly, some of those same cast members – working to AI scripts. Quite possibly too, significant portions of the movies are AI/CGI facsimiles (beyond the bits that are obviously CGI, quite possibly more obviously CGI than in decades past so as to contrast with the seamlessly good CGI that isn’t). Certainly, Argylle plays like an AI prompt

Yeah, you think some bitch-ass college boy could come up with that shit?

American Fiction (2023)   While it’s being touted as an awards-contender – including a Best Picture Oscar nomination – for its satirical take on media appetites for “blackness”, or rather, a certain stereotype of blackness, American Fiction is really a relationship drama masquerading – or selling itself – as a satire. It pretty much announces as much from the first scene, so the degree to which it’s merely an occasionally smile-raising accomplishment in the latter department is less of an issue than the degree to which it’s adequate at best in the former. As I see it, the only way

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

So the Dalek people have survived.

Doctor Who The Daleks   The Daleks ain’t all that. By which, I mean it’s fine and decent and solid, and as a serialised continuation of the travels of our newly flung-together quartet absolutely essential. But as a story, it’s derivative, obvious and mechanical, even by 1963 standards. It’s a Terry Nation-er, basically, and all his SF tropes – mostly borrowed SF tropes – begin here.  None of which means I condone hacking more than half of it out, colourising it (badly, if the separately sourced preview images are any indication) and adding a dollop of napkin-scribbled RTD dialogue on

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

Seems more like an epidemic than bad luck to me.

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)   Martin Scorsese appears to have reached a stage in his career where he is, give or take, approximating the mid-to-late-1960s hanging-in-there of once bastions of classical American cinema John Ford – last seen impersonated by the deceased David Lynch – and Howard Hawks. Sure, some acolytes will defend those slumber-down pictures, but they were getting the gigs based on previous form, at least until New Hollywood finally put them out to pasture.  Scorsese’s situation is a little different, true. He doesn’t have to compete, having, of late, nuzzled up to the cosy fireside

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:

I brought your orange sher-bert.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)   It’s probably safe to suggest Mike Myers’ brand of piss-taking, in its full unfettered glory, wouldn’t go down a storm into today’s environment. Critics had reached a short fuse with him (and, given it flopped, one might argue the public concurred) by the time of 2008’s underrated The Love Guru; his indulgences can be currently found on Netflix, following a hiatus spanning oceans of time, where he can pass relatively unseen and indulge in scatology and genitalia – and conspiracy theories – wholesale; perhaps his time has passed, and he’s considered old,

We’re dragging humanity to a higher plane.

Person of Interest (2011-16)   Jonathan Nolan seems habitual in taking a fertile, resonant SF premise and failing to capitalise on it. Which might explain why all 3 of his series so far have been prematurely cancelled (in the case of the most recent casualty, The Peripheral, that might be explained away by the strikes, but if Amazon had really wanted more of it, they’d have persevered until it as over). Person of Interest, like his subsequent Westworld, takes as its theme the threat and potential (in that order) that comes with AI; Nolan filters it through a case-of-the-week procedural