Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson team up in The Hustle, while Ryan Reynolds is back onscreen in Pokémon Detective Pikachu. There's also Irish boxing drama Float Like a Butterfly, arthouse sci-fi High Life and Aretha Franklin documentary Amazing Grace.
Amazing Grace ****
Amazing Grace showcases how talented Aretha Franklin was, and the impact her vocals had on listeners and the music industry.
Not many will be aware that the two-night recording of the late soul singer's biggest-selling album was captured on film.
The late Oscar-winning director Sydney Pollack had assembled a film crew at The New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in January 1972, where Franklin brought producer Jerry Wexler and her backup singers to perform her gospel tracks from Amazing Grace to a very enthusiastic audience. Read our full review here.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu ***
Detective Pikachu is very much a kids' film but there are enough in-jokes for older Pokémon fans and one-liners for parents that it's a bit of fun for all the family.
When Tim's (Justice Smith) estranged detective dad is presumed dead following a fiery car accident, Tim travels to Ryme City, a place where humans live side-by-side with Pokémon. Battles and trainers are no more, and each person has a Pokémon partner.
Tim's dad's Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) later turns up at his apartment with amnesia as a result of the accident, but his arrival gets both Pikachu and Tim thinking that if he survived then perhaps Tim's dad did too. Read our full review here.
High Life ****
Written and directed by French director Claire Denis, this pretty downbeat sci-fi tale is the 73-year-old's first film in the English language and was co-written by her long-time collaborator Jean-Pol Fargeau.
Basically, a group of death row criminals are sent on an alternative energy-finding mission in space to potentially source from a black hole. The mission has no chance of making it back to Earth, so the ship is effectively a death sentence for all aboard anyway.
The film opens with Monte, a jailbird played by Robert Pattinson, and a baby girl, his daughter. They're the only survivors (although they are heading into a black hole, which is a far from ideal situation), and the how and why of the other passengers being dead is told in flashback. Read our full review here.
Float Like a Butterfly **
Set at the time of former world champion Mohammad Ali's visit to Ireland in 1972, Float Like a Butterfly sees two communities in conflict, the Settled and the Travellers, as tensions simmer in a rural setting.
July 1972. Mohammad Ali is in Ireland, amidst much fanfare, to fight Alvin Lewis in Croke Park. He is the toast of a family of Travellers who have wired up a TV set to see the impishly mischievous world champion boxer interviewed by Cathal O'Shannon on Teilifís Éireann. There is a certain empathy with the man formerly, or indeed popularly, known as Cassius Clay.
In the movie, boxing is something that the wary-but-formidable young Frances (played by the excellent Hazel Doupe) is interested in. She is regularly asked to show her muscles or urged to hold up her fists in fighter mode by her father (Dara Devaney) and grandfather. Read our full review here.
The Hustle **
Chris Addison’s directorial debut is a gratingly vapid and clunky misfire of seen-it-before set-ups that never settles on whether it’s a parody or a homage.
This gender-swapped remake of 1988’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which was a remake of 1964’s Bedtime Story, is so ill-considered and erratically realised that it can only aspire to stupidity in its characters and in itself.
The odd-couple dynamic between Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson as feuding con artists drives the film for the first hour, but as the gimmick wears off the co-stars find themselves drowning in bad material.
The plot feels like a paint-by-numbers concoction of clichés and contrivances, laughs are sporadic at best and cobbled together in the second half as the film trudges from one mishap to the next. Read our full review here.
Long Shot ****
Jonathan Levine's raunchy political satire is a giddy symphony of outrageously wicked gags and scabrous laughs.
Seth Rogen reteams with Levine (after 50/50, The Night Before), this time, as a left-leaning and unemployed journalist who becomes a speechwriter for Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), the current Secretary of State who aspires to become the first female POTUS.
Long Shot is the rare, mercilessly funny gem that operates without a safety net and pushes the boundaries of offensiveness in ways that make us both chuckle and think. Read our full review here.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile ***1/2
When it comes to reinvention, Zac Efron has made 2019 a year to remember, bulldozing his song-and-dance man image with this leave-the-lights-on portrayal of serial killer Ted Bundy - in cinemas and on Sky.
It would be a pity if Efron decides to hit the reset button after Extremely Wicked... because he is a far better dramatic actor than even fans may have given him credit for. He is also the latest in a long line to prove the theory that if you can do comedy you can do anything.
Directed by documentary maker Joe Berlinger - Netflix's Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, the Paradise Lost triptych about the so-called 'West Memphis Three' case - the film sets out to show how Bundy works his way into the life and mind of Elizabeth 'Liz' Kendall (Lily Collins), a single parent who meets him on a night out in Seattle in 1969 and quickly falls in love with him. Read our full review here.
To say that this biopic of Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien is a little on the nose is a bit like saying Sauron was a very naughty boy.
Here is young Lieutenant Tolkien of the Lancashire Fusiliers sprawled in a bomb crater on the Western Front during World War One. Overcome with trench fever, he is tended to by a doggedly faithful private called Sam and as his malady descends, John Ronald Reuel begins to have visions of horseman doing noble battle on the dead marshes of the Somme and dark lords arising from the trenches. Next, a premonition of Gandalf's sainted white stallion Shadowfax is glimpsed, standing serene amid the carnage...
German flamethrowers become mighty dragons and, later, someone will remark of Wagner: "Why does it take six hours to tell the story of a magic ring?" Chortle. Read our full review here.
The Curse of Llorona **
Retro Seventies setting? Check! Wise old prelate who, like, knows stuff? Check! People being pinned against walls by malevolent forces? Check! A maverick former priest with a talent for macabre one liners? Check! Jump scares telegraphed loooong minutes in advance? Double check!
The latest frantic and very loud addition to the faint-by-numbers Conjuring "universe" sees a kind of Mexican banshee, who has killed her own children in a act of self-sabotaging revenge, come back from the dead - or possibly Spring break in Cancun - to claim the offspring of other more fortunate mothers. Read our full review here.
Woman at War **
A woman on an anarchic mission to destroy the electric power supply in Iceland is also faced with the prospect of an adoption coming through. She is betwixt and between, like the film itself, which lies somewhere between eco-protest and absurdist drama.
Woman at War is one of those offbeat films that steal into arthouses now and then. You know the kind: an eccentric Scandinavian vehicle that, in the interests of rather limp comedy, jettisons the cut-and-dried story.
The perpetually frazzled 49-year-old Halla, walks around the Icelandic countryside cutting power lines and such like. Her accomplice-in-protest is a gruff sheep farmer in whose remote farmstead the woman finds herself as the film commences. Her family come from the locality, she explains to the man, she lives in the capital, Reykjavík. Read our full review here.