It's a great weekend for the cinema, with Creed II and Ralph Breaks the Internet set to inspire plenty of popcorn munching. There's also the sublime arthouse offering The Wild Pear Tree and Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams in the romantic drama Disobedience.
Creed II ****
Creed II is twelve rounds of awesomeness - by the end of the 130-minute running time, viewers won't know what hit them.
Director Steven Caple Jr, taking over the reins from the great Ryan Coogler, is at the top of his own game, and orchestrates the franchise's trusty formula while standing on his own two feet.
Now a heavyweight champion, Adonis 'Donnie' Creed (Michael B Jordan) is taunted into fighting by Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the hulking son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) - the Soviet machine who killed Donnie's father, Apollo, during an exhibition match in 1985's Rocky IV. Read our full review here.
Ralph Breaks the Internet ****
What does the World Wide Web actually look like? Is it a techno utopia where pretty blue jays perch on branches and tweet happy thoughts and helpful corporations provide you with vital information and goods?
Or is it a fetid underworld where viruses and hate speech lurk everywhere and the Dark Web is a festering pit teeming with mankind's every evil?
It's a bit of both in this zippy follow-up to 2013's Wreck it Ralph. Billed as the biggest and most elaborate Disney movie ever, its greatest feat is its ingenious visualisation of cyberspace as a gleaming city buzzing with global brands and populated by personifications of search engines, algorithms, pop-up ads, and high-stakes online auctions. Read our full review here.
The Wild Pear Tree ****
"We are misfits, solitary, misshapen,'' says the disillusioned young Sinan who is about to graduate from college in the absorbing Turkish feature, The Wild Pear Tree, which is directed by Palme d'Or-winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
Sinan also includes his grandfather Recep (Tamer Levent), and the tree of the title is the young man’s simile for the stubborn ways of all three.
In its absorbing to and fro of mood and dialogue, The Wild Pear Tree conjures the moments when people at odds with each other can suddenly connect. Nuri Bilge Ceylan and his talented actors have managed a film of brilliance. Read our full review here.
Disobedience offers a valiant spin on the business of trying to express one's sexuality within the perceived strictures of religion.
Ronit and Esti (Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams respectively) are friends since at least their teenage years in North London. While Ronit has shaken off her Jewish Orthodox faith, Esti has apparently continued to believe in its tenets, so much so that she has married the devoutly traditionalist Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), the third party in the love triangle at the heart of the film.
The emotional anguish authentically expressed in Disobedience is captivating, but the film fades out unsatisfactorily, playing on sententious heroics by way of an implausible ending that can't make up its mind whether to be a neat finale or to leave the story hanging. Read our full review here.
The Camino Voyage *****
The Camino Voyage sees four comrades travelling by naomhóg or currach on the 2,500km sea journey to North-West Spain as they make their risky but spirited pilgrimage to the holy city of Santiago de Compostela.
They are following the example of intrepid Irish pilgrims, who sailed centuries ago from Ireland to the city of A Coruña in North-West Spain prior to completing the final, dry-land leg of the Camino - which means 'the way' or 'the road' in Spanish - on foot to Santiago.
A heart-warming, sometimes moving documentary directed by Dónal Ó Céilleachair. Read our full review here.
Robin Hood *1/2
The overwhelming feeling after sitting through almost two hours of the latest Robin Hood iteration to hit the big screen is: Did we really need this movie?
Similarly to Guy Richie's frenetic, frequently confusing re-imagining of the King Arthur legend, Robin Hood manages to be both action-packed and mind-numbingly boring. Quite the feat.
Peaky Blinders director Otto Bathurst makes his feature debut with Welsh actor Taron Egerton, probably best known for his role in Kingsman: The Secret Service, taking on the leading role of Robin of Loxley. Read our full review here.
Assassination Nation ***
Assassination Nation has a lot to say, but the script fails to live up to all its promise, in what is a visually masterful film more intent on looking good than being as smart as it thinks it is.
It's modern day Salem, Massachusetts and the film opens with an eerie pan through an average looking American neighbourhood, but the inhabitants wear masks and something seems off. Our narrator, 18-year-old protagonist Lily (Odessa Young), tells us that her town has lost its mind, and that she doesn't know if she and her three best friends will survive the night.
Director Hirokazu Koreeda has form when it comes to young female characters welcomed into families who shower them with love, no matter how tough the circumstances. That is the bare thumbnail plot of the Palme d'Or-winning Shoplifters as it was the thumbnail for his previous film Our Little Sister.
Here he depicts a much poorer family who essentially live by their wits. Cramped though they may be in their squat-like dwelling, they take in a five-year-old girl when they discover that her natural parents do not want her. Thus she becomes part of this crafty family who live cheek by jowl in their makeshift flat on the fringes of a Japanese city.
Shoplifters is an absorbing, masterful film that opens out like a Japanese fan into a coda of sociological commentary that will leave you pondering about the ethics of families and their brands of dysfunction, veiled and visible alike. Read our full review here.
The Girl in the Spider's Web **1/2
Well, that's two heroes who've failed to save our November nights.
First up was the new Jack Reacher adventure, Past Tense - one of the weakest books from author Lee Child - and now The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Lisbeth Salander returns to screens after seven years with Don't Breathe director Fede Álvarez behind the lens and The Crown's Claire Foy taking over the iconic lead role from Rooney Mara.
Given the length of the lay-off and the talent involved - which also includes Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight as one of the writers and Dragon Tattoo director David Fincher as an executive producer - The Girl in the Spider's Web ranks as one of the bigger disappointments of 2018. Read our full review here.