Loads of new films opening on Irish screens!

Animals ***

Adapted from Emma Jane Unsworth's 2014 novel of the same name, Australian director Sophie Hyde's big screen outing about two millennials' quarter-life crisis bites off more avocado toast than it can chew. 

Swapping the book's Manchester setting for Dublin's fair city, we are introduced to thirtysomething, wannabe writer Laura (Holliday Grainger) and her free-spirited BFF Tyler (Alia Shawkat). They are living proof that age is just a number.

From Saturday night raves to midweek boozy poetry recitals, the partying pair spend the 109-minute run-time knocking back white wine in hipster hangouts and dipping their fingers in an endless supply of stolen MDMA.‬ Read our full review here.

Gaza *****
Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell's captivating documentary shows the harsh reality of life in Gaza, described as an open prison by one of its many articulate contributors. 

This moving film should be seen by us all, and we said much the same thing about Capernaum, the equally compelling cine verité film set in Beirut, which was shown at the IFI last year.

That film, though not a straight documentary as such, was equally freighted with sadness and despair. Read our full review here.

The Sun is Also a Star ****

It's earnest and cheesy and its reliance on daft coincidence is off the scale, but that may well be true of almost every fictional romance since the dawn of time. So bear with it and be patient because there is something cute and winning about this immigration-themed love story.

From a high corridor at New York's Grand Central Station, Daniel Bae, of Korean stock, sees Jamaican Natasha Kingsley looking up in his approximate direction from the concourse. Instantly besotted, Daniel charges down to search for her in the milling crowd below stairs, but she has slipped his vision. 

Shorty afterwards, by the quirk of outlandish fate which is this film's currency, he gets the merest glimpse of her in the next carriage on a downtown train. Read our full review here.

Blinded by the Light ****

It's been some summer for the Springsteen faithful. First came the widescreen wonder of his new album Western Stars, and now a proper trip to the cinema to relive the magic of that first song, first album, first gig, and first kiss.

After moving the goalposts in the best way possible with Bend It Like Beckhamdirector Gurinder Chadha has given us another coming-of-age story to cherish and share, all about family, politics and why music can help you through just about anything.

Inspired by British journalist Safraz Manzoor's memoir Greetings from Bury Park, and with an imprimatur from The Boss, Blinded by the Light shows how all the bulbs go on in one kid's head when a classmate throws a couple of Springsteen tapes across the canteen table in 1987. Read our full review here.

The Art of Racing in the Rain ***1/2

This old-fashioned weepie, from the producers of Marley and Me, spends perhaps too much time being morbid, but then again what weepie doesn't? 

Ultimately, there is redemption - and welcome relief of a kind - mediated through the gnarled wisdom of the dog narrator. It's he, in fact, who in his story takes us through the challenges, both personal and professional, that his racing driver owner has to deal with.

The story is told in an extended but neatly folding flashback by the philosophically-inclined canine of the piece, named Enzo (after Enzo Ferrari, the legendary Italian racing driver), voiced by Kevin Costner. Read our full review here.

Playmobil: The Movie *

It's impossible not to draw comparisons with The LEGO Movie as this toy brand attempts to come to life on the big screen, but in reality we would rather stand on a piece of LEGO than sit through this another time.

The film begins with a real-world brother and sister singing and dancing their way around their home, pondering adventures and world travel, and promising to not live lives that are ordinary. When their worlds are turned upside down with the news that their parents have died in a car accident, fun and games are no longer the order of the day; dreams are shattered, hope is lost and adventure is a distant memory. 

All of the bits that are meant to be emotional, tug at the heartstrings or make you think, are so heavy-handed and forced that you're likely to eye-roll your way through instead of enjoy yourself. It's more commercial advertising than entertainment. Read our full review here.

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Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw **

Who cares that Hobbs & Shaw sounds like an artisan coffee shop in a gentrified area of Dublin 8, or a vegan ice cream range, or maybe even a fashion line for ladies of a certain age - here are Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham as an alpha male odd couple out to save the world.

After a brief encounter in a previous Fast & Furious outing, moody Brit Deckard Shaw and well-mannered Yank Luke Hobbs are forced together to take on a revived Idris Elba as Brixton Lorr, a F&F character who has been brought back to life as a cybernetic bad ass with visions of a brave new world in which the weak are weeded out and humans are engineered for physical and mental perfection. He is half man, half Bizquip.

Hobbs and Shaw are joined by Shaw's sister Hattie, an MI6 special ops agent who has been framed by Brixton during a heist to steal a deadly virus designed to wipe out half the world's population. Read our full review here.

The Angry Birds Movie 2 ***

The sequel to 2016's successful video game animation will bring your little ones on a glorious flight of imagination, but adults may be left feeling a little bird-brained.

With Piggy and Bird Island under threat, pig king Leonard (Bill Hader) joins forces with Red (Jason Sudeikis) and his trusty crew of flightless pals - Bomb (Danny McBride), Chuck (Josh Gad) and newcomer Silver (Rachel Bloom) - to save their paradises from a resentful purple eagle named Zeta (Leslie Jones), who chucks ice balls filled with lava at them from her lair.

Director Thurop Van Orman has created a beautifully animated pinwheel of 3D animation, backed by richly imagined designs. Read our full review here.

Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans ***

Like a PG-rated multi-chariot pile-up between Monty Python, Mel Brooks, Carry On and Blackadder, the rather excellent BBC history series for kids finally makes its big screen debut.

Horrible Histories takes a humorous spin on the great stories of the ages and like the science on The Big Bang Theory, the facts are always true or as true as they can be. However, unlike The Big Bang Theory, Horrible Histories is actually funny.

For this movie debut (expect more films in the series) we set our scene in Roman Britain in 60AD, just as Celtic queen Boudicca is about to rebel against Nero's occupying forces. Read our full review here.

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.