It's a brilliant weekend at the cinema with The LEGO Movie 2 opening and sublime dramas If Beale Street Could Talk and Boy Erased also on screens.
The LEGO Movie 2 ****
Five years on from the release of the outstanding The LEGO Movie, our favourite mini figures are back and everything is still pretty awesome.
Where The LEGO Movie focussed on a father-son relationship, this outing is all about sibling dynamics, with the big brother's citizens of Bricksburg - now living in a more mature, post-apocalyptic LEGO world - coming under threat from the younger sister's LEGO Duplo.
This new dynamic plays out with less subtlety than in the first film, but it will tug at your heart-strings and have you laughing out loud – and what more could you want? Read our full review here.
If Beale Street Could Talk *****
If you're scrambling to find the time to watch all the films you've lined up for February, here's another one to add to the list - at the top.
After his breakout success with Moonlight, director Barry Jenkins has returned with a film that's every frame as special - another for-the-ages love story, this time set in 1970s New York.
Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) had been friends since childhood, only to discover that they wanted all of each other. We stroll with them on warm nights and feel that heat from the screen; they see the brightest of futures together, and we tell ourselves that we see it too. But life has other plans... Read our full review here.
Boy Erased *****
The best coming-of-age stories remind you of something from your own life, while also making you realise the truth in someone else's.
And so it is with actor-turned-director Joel Edgerton's Boy Erased, a film that is guaranteed to make viewers feel very angry, but is also determined that they shouldn't lose hope.
Based on the 2016 memoir by Garrard Conley, this study of love and acceptance sees pastor Marshall (Russell Crowe) and devout wife Nancy (Nicole Kidman) left reeling after their 18-year-old son Jared (Lucas Hedges) tells them that he is attracted to men. Read our full review here.
All Is True ****
There's more than a touch of the BBC's masterful adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall in this passion project from lifelong Shakespeare scholar Kenneth Branagh.
It's certainly there in Branagh's elegant direction. Every shot has a painterly candlelit quality, which captures the unhurried pace and lifestyle of the era. It's also in the poised performances of the cast, not least Judi Dench's stoical portrayal of Shakespeare's wife Anne Hathaway and Kathryn Wilder as their bitter and angry spinster daughter Judith.
Branagh himself, in a false nose and hairline, plays the man with restraint and humour and is only given to one isolated incident of rage. Read our full review here.
Alita: Battle Angel **
Rosa Salazar plays Alita, a half-destroyed cyborg unearthed from a rubbish dump and turned into the "most dangerous weapon ever" in Robert Rodriguez's uneven and overlong comic book adaptation.
Like a Manga version of Fritz Lang’s Maschinenmensch crossbred with a Disney princess, Alita chops and hews her way through Iron City in the year 2563, while also finding time for a dopey teen romance with a local boy and a Pinocchio/Geppetto relationship with her father figure and saviour - cybersurgeon Dr Dyson Ido (a reliable but bored looking Christoph Waltz).
Mega producer James Cameron has had his sights on adapting this Manga comic book by Yukito Kishiro for decades, but a little thing called Avatar and its planned sequels got in the way. However, Cameron's megalomania is all over Alita, from the total reliance on CGI, to the clunky dialogue, to the clichéd characters. Read our full review here.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ****
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a smartly dispensed gift for your little one's imagination - and for the child in all of us.
Picking up a brief time after their last outing left off, Hiccup (voiced again by Jay Baruchel) and his trusty pal Toothless set out to discover a dragon utopia, with the hopes of keeping his fire-breathing buddies safe from notorious dragon slayer Grimmel (F Murray Abraham).
While the concept has turned darker, returning director-screenwriter Dean DeBlois' sheer artistry allows him to take risks without sacrificing the integrity of the beloved series and its well-drawn characters. Read our full review here.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? ****
One of the many things that Hollywood has tended to excel in is the buddy movie. From Laurel and Hardy to Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Thelma & Louise to Midnight Run, and many more besides, it's a genre that's served cinema-goers very well.
Strictly speaking, Can You Ever Forgive Me? isn't a buddy movie, but the two leads and their characters work so well together, that's basically what you've got here.
Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel, a semi-sociopathic writer, mainly of hagiographic Hollywood biographies, who is down on her luck in early Nineties Manhattan. Her scandal-free style is out of favour as warts 'n' all books are the new currency. Read our full review here.
Green Book ****
Whatever the set-up or setting, the best road movies - The Sure Thing, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Midnight Run, The Eighth Day (Le Huitième Jour) - all have one thing in common: no matter how many times you've taken the trip, you always see something new along the way.
Green Book also deserves its place on that list of sentimental journeys, but in terms of driving arguments it has more gas in the tank than the rest of the genre combined.
Set in the autumn and winter of 1962, the comedy-drama is "inspired by a true friendship" - that of Dr Donald Shirley and Tony 'Lip' Vallelonga, portrayed here by Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen respectively. Read our full review here.
Based on a Haruki Murakami short story, this utterly strange Korean film about three very different young people whose lives intersect in Seoul and its environs is a deeply satisfying cinematic experience.
Donald Trump has just won the US election on the local TV news and Jong-soo has finished his creative writing college course. The young man is at something of a loose end: alone on the family farm, looking after the cattle, trying desultorily for jobs in a Korea riven by increasing unemployment. Meanwhile, his stubborn father is in prison, awaiting trial for assaulting a government official.
Jong-soo is not unlike the young protagonist in Nuri Bilge Ceylan's recent masterpiece, The Wild Pear Tree. The youth in that exquisite film has also just finished college and he too aspires in his callow awkward way to be a successful writer. Read our full review here.
Escape Room **
If you're looking for a version of Saw suitable for a younger audience, you've come to the right place. But, has anyone ever wanted that?
Every character is a cliché with one characteristic that defines their whole being, and any suggestion of nuance is railroaded by heavy-handed nods to an event in their past that has led them to where they are today; competing to win $10,000 if they can make it through the Escape Room.
The sets are impressive and it seems that the only real imagination and effort went into how these rooms can work to attack and intimidate the players, because it feels as though scripting and character development were a definite afterthought. Read our full review here.