Power Rangers (2017) – With an off-colour joke about milking a bull, the filmmakers signal a sense of humour about what they’re doing; a bruising car chase, captured in a spinning single shot, signals that they’re as interested in their teen protagonists’ lives as in robots joining combat. The Rangers’ new powers are bewildering to them in the best Buffy the Vampire Slayer tradition; as in Buffy, the superheroics jostle with ordinary adolescent emotions for the kids’ attention. Director Dean Israelite knows he isn’t resurrecting a classic, and the fact that much of the action is set in a quarry seems an affectionate nod to so much cheapo science fiction; the actual small-town set where the climax takes place (a physical environment with its own purpose-built unreality) give the action a pleasant 90s feeling. (There are wry touches throughout, like situating the Hellmouth under a Krispy Kreme.) It’s the most exuberant teen movie since Pacific Rim; better, because it gives its girl characters something to do. ***

Rogue One (2016) – This demonstrates how the new Star Wars franchise could wear out its welcome: by telling the same story over and over. It’s identical in outline to The Force Awakens (and thus to A New Hope): a loner from a remote space outpost discovers a sense of purpose in fighting the Empire, gathering a disparate group of allies around them. What played as homage the last time around here seems like a failure of imagination, and a safe commercial bet. In all the immensity of space there’s only one narrative, and the same old obsession with lost parents; titles now identify each planet we visit, as if the filmmakers were determined to scrub the universe of any mystery. One reason the Ben Mendelsohn character – an Imperial middle manager trying to please his superiors and retain control of his project – stands out so much is that he doesn’t have an obvious antecedent in the Star Wars universe. He suggests the wealth of stories that could be told from other perspectives. The movie goes through its motions proficiently, however, with plenty of exciting gunplay and that special Star Wars earnestness, its future technology carefully grounded in familiar landscapes. **½

Trainspotting (1996) – Visually, this takes its cues from Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch – the use of sets to produce a sense of unreality, the poisonous reds and greens of the junkies’ lair, the sudden, disturbing distortions of time and space – but this is a better, livelier film, with a sharp sense of humour. It has a clear moral sense, without ever taking itself too seriously: Ewan McGregor’s Renton prides himself on being too hip for consumer society (his narration provides much of the film’s energy), but he’s a charming parasite and a quisling, ready to betray his friends but not to stand up to them. The movie looks at their pranks and good times – so often predicated on theft or the prologue to a sudden act of violence – objectively. Their victories are always pathetic, or undercut in some way. Danny Boyle’s effects here are not his later whiz-bang bag of tricks but integral to a vision: the apparitions and distended spaces are genuinely disturbing, approaching the death that claims several of the characters. Perhaps the final third, which concentrates on Renton’s growing ambivalence about his friends, drags a little, but this remains the best work of nearly everyone involved. ***½

T2 Trainspotting (2017) – Much of this is literally self-regarding, the four friends pondering footage of themselves as young men, like Norma Desmond watching her old movies in Sunset Boulevard. Part of the current wave of 90s nostalgia, Danny Boyle and John Hodge throw in familiar elements – the goading music cues, the wry encounters with authority, a tour of locations from the original – like old musos breaking out the hits; Hodge gives Ewan McGregor an updated “Choose life” monologue. The film lacks the original’s élan and its horror: it sticks to the disappointed middle of these men still making similar mistakes in their 40s. It captures pretty well, though, the old mixture of insouciance and futility, and though McGregor has become a cheesy, ingratiating actor, both Robert Carlyle and Ewen Bremner find new dimensions to their characters. The most surprising decision is to make Spud, not Renton, the storyteller, the one who speaks for the group. In this delayed Bildungsroman, it’s Spud who goes away at the end to write the book; the movie’s best moments are about the power of story to make sense of the haphazard events of our lives. **½