It's roar power to you in cinemas this weekend as The Lion King opens!
The Lion King ***1/2
It's hard to figure out who is the bravest here: monarch-in-waiting Simba for standing up to his murderous uncle Scar, or director Jon Favreau for trying to bring together the generations all over again by taking on a touchstone tale that has spent 25 years in people's lives.
Right now, we're calling it a draw.
Even with a cast including Donald Glover (Simba), Beyoncé (Nala), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Scar), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa) and original Lion King star James Earl Jones (reprising his role as father-for-the-ages Musafa), Favreau was always going to have his work cut out with his bid to equal or better Disney's 1994 odyssey of innocence and experience. Remaking The Jungle Book was one thing, but this is a completely different walk on the wild side. Simply put, people don't have the same emotional attachment to Mowgli, Baloo and co as the characters mentioned above. When it comes to paws to fill, you can't get any bigger than Simba's. Read our full review here.
Tell It to the Bees *1/2
Director Annabel Jankel should have taken the kitchen sink out of Tell It to the Bees, because all the pots and pans have been truly thrown at it.
What might have been, in more capable hands, an indie gem is instead a melodramatic TV movie.
The setting is a dour Scottish town in the 1950s, where everybody watches everybody else. Lydia (Holliday Grainger), a blow-in from the Manchester area, had her son Charlie (Gregor Selkirk) before she married his father, a local man named Robert Weekes (Emun Elliott). Read our full review here.
Ron Howard's latest film pays homage to the late singer, employing a generous lens to cast a warm and informative light on the acclaimed tenor's life and career. Howard's take on Pavarotti is, much like the singer himself, light-hearted, doughy and largely uncontroversial. In the spirit of the tenor, it toes the line.
While more cynical filmmakers would have dug into the darkest corners of Pavarotti's life, Howard leaves these spaces largely untouched. If he includes any potentially degrading material, e.g. an account of Pavarotti's diva-like antics, he does so only briefly, as means to humanise an otherwise superhuman figure.
For the bulk of the film, Howard shamelessly embraces the themes that earned his subject matter the adoration of millions (as well as the derision of a critical few). Mirroring Pavarotti's amiable personality and the earnest content of opera itself, Howard's film deals in simple, broad-based emotions: joy, romance, sadness and hope. Read our full review here.
Annabelle Comes Home ****
There's life in the old doll yet.
Back for a third run, the sinister doll from the Conjuring universe takes centre stage once more, in this highly enjoyable 'look out behind you' horror story that rattles along.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles from The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 as Ed and Lorraine Warren, a pair of paranormal investigators and authors associated with prominent cases of haunting, but really their characters bookend this film. Read our full review here.
The Brink ***1/2
The Brink follows former White House strategist Steve Bannon through the 2018 US midterm elections, and the film also covers his attempts to mobilise far-right European parties for the May 2019 parliamentary elections.
The Time magazine cover sets the scene. Both Donald Trump and Steve Bannon made the cover and the caption used to describe Bannon is the memorable one: "The Manipulator".
"The Manipulator" - that about sums Steve Bannon up, what we can see of him in the film anyway. Unfortunately, we learn nothing about him, about his background, what kind of family he grew up in, what made him what he is. Read our full review here.