Films: Daniel Craig is back with Knives Out sequel, plus a rollicking Matilda

Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (12A)

In Agatha Christie's 1929 short story The Man In The Mist, detective Tommy Beresford astutely observes, "Very few of us are what we seem to be".

Writer-director Rian Johnson heeds those words in his deliciously gnarly and deceptive whodunnit sequel, deftly engineering more than one gasp-inducing twist as his Southern detective Benoit Blanc trades Massachusetts familial strife for avarice and betrayal on a sun-kissed Greek island.

The original Knives Out was a blast, a tongue-in-cheek country house murder mystery that both honoured and distorted genre tropes with a starry A-list cast portraying the rogues' gallery of shadowy suspects.

Glass Onion is an ingenious, self-contained puzzle, which is both funnier and sneakier than its predecessor (and 10 minutes longer) and explicitly references Christie's most popular novels in its clinical dramatic set-up and skilful sleights of hand.

The script is as tight as the dashing blue cravat knotted around Daniel Craig's neck, returning to the fray as the quixotic sleuth who randomly splutters Halle Berry's name when a splash of a hot sauce made by actor Jeremy Renner stages an aggressive assault on his taste buds.

Celebrity name drops and cameos, including the final screen appearance of Dame Angela Lansbury, underline the playful spirit of Johnson's elaborately choreographed dance of death.

The identity of Blanc's live-in lover is amusingly reduced to a glorious throwaway gag in flashback.

Eccentric billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton), co-founder of tech giant Alpha, sends ornate puzzle boxes as invitations to a murder mystery-themed party on his private island getaway.

Recipients include Connecticut governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), Alpha scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr), Miles' former business partner Andi Brand (Janelle Monae), social media star Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), politically incorrect fashion designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) and Benoit Blanc (Craig).

Duke arrives with girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline) in tow while Birdie is shadowed by her exasperated personal assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick).

At dinner on the first night, Miles reveals that he will play the murder victim and cryptic clues hidden around his Aegean paradise can be pieced together to deduce his killer.

The first person to solve the dastardly crime wins.

When the sound of a real gunshot reverberates across the island, Blanc is perfectly positioned to peel back layers of deceit and expose at least one blackened heart.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery goes down as sweetly as the hard kombucha (fermented by Jared Leto), which everyone drinks on Miles's retreat.

Craig and co-stars are clearly having a blast - Norton, in particular, relishes his self-congratulatory corporate titan, who couldn't pour water out of a wellington boot with instructions on the heel.

Johnson flatters and deceives, making mirth from murderous intentions with grand theatrical flourishes.

The knives are out and they cut sweetly to the funny bone.

Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical (PG)

In 2010, director Matthew Warchus scored top grades for his euphoric staging of Matilda The Musical in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Christmas season.

The show transferred to London's West End the following year and continues to send terrific tykes to the Chokey.

Warchus reunites with composer and lyricist Tim Minchin and scriptwriter Dennis Kelly for a swashboggling, phizz-whizzing screen adaptation that retains the acidic tang of Roald Dahl's beloved 1988 children's novel and elegantly expresses the loss and reclamation of childhood innocence in barn-storming song and dance numbers choreographed with breathless abandon by Ellen Kane.

Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical trims 20 minutes from the stage production's lesson plan by expelling Matilda's dim-witted older brother, Mrs Wormwood's flamboyant ballroom dance partner Rudolpho and a few songs to maintain a vice-like grip on attention spans.

Warchus savours the opportunity to expand his playbox from stage to big screen.

Minchin's whistle-stop tour of the alphabet in School Song ("You will soon C/There's no escaping trage-D") is no longer confined to Rob Howell's Olivier and Tony Award-winning set and gallivants energetically through classrooms and hallways.

The barn-storming anthem Revolting Children expands its deafening chorus to the entire student population of Crunchem Hall led by Charlie Hodson-Prior's chocolate cake-guzzling Bruce Bogtrotter.

Bigger and shinier isn't always better.

The empowering When I Grow Up, memorably sung on stage by daydreaming pupils on soaring playground swings, loses some of its lump-in-the-throat emotional wallop when digital trickery allows pint-sized cast to ride a motorcycle or take to the skies in an acrobatic fast-jet.

Sometimes, a musical should reject the need for speed.

Bookish wunderkind Matilda (Alisha Weir) has the misfortune to be raised by garish used car salesman Mr Wormwood (Stephen Graham) and his monstrous wife (Andrea Riseborough).

The precocious youngster escapes into fantastical worlds on the shelves of a mobile library run by Mrs Phelps (Sindhu Vee).

Matilda harnesses dormant telekinetic powers when she enrols at Crunchem Hall under hulking headmistress Agatha Trunchbull (Emma Thompson), a former world champion athlete who performs an exemplary hammer throw over the school gates using one unfortunate girl's pigtails.

Thankfully, caring teacher Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch) recognises Matilda's genius and encourages her gifted ward to soar higher than the unfortunate and airborne Amanda Thripp.

Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical confidently combines sweet, salty and sour flavours, juxtaposing the cuteness and steely determination of Weir's spirited heroine with the comic grotesquerie of Thompson's tyrant.

Warchus overloads our senses in exuberant musical set-pieces, maintaining a rip-roaring pace until the film's new song Still Holding My Hand allows a curtain to gently fall over quietly contented characters.

Aristotle spoke the truth: the roots of education are bitter but the fruit is sweet.

Warchus's picture is a peach.

Strange World (PG)

There are many strange and wondrous sights in the world imagined by Don Hall's rollicking adventure, co-directed by screenwriter Qui Nguyen.

Luminous pink terror-dactyls soar over lizard-shaped inflatable clouds while lolloping transportasauruses shed healing orange orbs to counteract damage inflicted by tentacled beasts called reapers.

Perhaps the strangest of them all is that it has taken almost 100 years since Walt and Roy Disney co-founded their studio for an openly gay character to be at the emotional heart of a feature-length animation.

It's a long overdue, small step forward for diversity and LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream family-oriented media, treating a boy's sweet and goofy crush on a male classmate with the same humour and sensitivity as any other adolescent romance, as it should be.

Love is many-splendored, especially in animation, a medium that invites us to swoon at the courtships of a bookworm and a beast, a mermaid and a prince, two lonely robots on 22nd-century Earth and a princess and a frog.

Strange World harnesses its warmth and power from relatable family dynamics and a spirited odyssey that splices together an original story with strands of creative DNA from Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, Fantastic Voyage and Jurassic Park.

Tear ducts get a light workout compared to recent Disney offerings such as Encanto but action and comedy trade backslaps throughout in a similar fashion to Hall and Nguyen's previous collaboration, Raya And The Last Dragon.

Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a 40-year-old farmer in the kingdom of Avalonia, who tends a sprawling plot to provide for his crop-dusting pilot wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and teenage son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White).

There is little excitement in Searcher's life beyond the harvesting of pardo, an electrically-charged green crop which supplies power to every home and business in the realm.

Searcher discovered this miraculously plant-based energy source 25 years ago during an ill-fated expedition with his explorer father Jaeger (Dennis Quaid), who disappeared attempting to scale the ring of snow-capped peaks that encircle Avalonia.

Out of the blue, the Clades receive a visit from Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu), the leader of Avalonia.

She desperately needs Searcher's expertise to avert ecological disaster.

Meridian, Ethan and the family's three-legged dog Legend join Searcher on a daredevil descent into uncharted territory, where the clan befriends an amorphous blue entity they affectionately christen Splat.

Strange World assuredly navigates three generations of father-son relationships in a futuristic setting that allows animators' imaginations to run amok.

Visuals are ravishing and exquisitely detailed especially the movement of hirsute characters on two and three legs.

Nguyen's script pokes fun at Disney's corporate model (an Avalonian crew member encounters Splat and giggles, "It's so cute, I want to merchandise it!") while addressing serious issues of climate change and sustainability in an easily digestible manner for young audiences.

Bones and All (18)

Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino reunites with actor Timothee Chalamet for a gruesome road movie, adapted by screenwriter David Kajganich from Camille DeAngelis's novel.

Teenager Maren (Taylor Russell) learns from her father (Andre Holland) that she may have inherited her hunger for human flesh from the mother she never knew.

She embarks on a quest to track down the missing matriarch and better understand her carnivorous nature.

Maren crosses paths with fellow "eater" Lee (Chalamet) and they form a murderous double act.

However, there are myriad dangers on the road including inflicted souls like Sully (Mark Rylance).

Nanny (15)

A Senegalese immigrant experiences unsettling visions in an award-winning supernatural thriller written and directed by Nikyatu Jusu.

Aisha (Anna Diop) works long hours in the home of wealthy white New York couple Amy (Michelle Monaghan) and Adam (Morgan Spector) as a nanny for the couple's young daughter, Rose (Rose Decker).

There is visible tension between Amy and Adam, and Rose exacerbates the situation by pointedly refusing to eat the food that her mother leaves for her.

Aisha coolly navigates these choppy waters, saving her earnings to bring her young son to the United States.

That dream is jeopardised when trickster spider Anansi and water spirit Mami Wata from West African folklore gate-crash Aisha's waking dreams and loosen the nanny's grip on her sanity.

Three Day Millionaire (15)

Jack Spring directs a hare-brained heist caper penned by Paul Stephenson, which is affectionately pitched as Grimsby's answer to Ocean's 11.

Filmed on location in the Lincolnshire port town, Three Day Millionaire centres on trawlermen Mr Graham (Jonas Armstrong), Budgie (Sam Glen), Codge (Michael Kinsey) and Curly (James Burrows), who return home for three days in between gruelling shifts at sea.

During shore leave, the buddies learn that Mr Barr (Colm Meaney), owner of the docks, intends to sell the land to the Divine Residential Group.

The deal would signal the end of the fishermen's livelihoods.

In response, Mr G, Budgie, Codge and Curly plot to steal more than half a million pounds from Mr Barr's safe with the assistance of local taxi driver Wheezy (Robbie Gee) as their getaway man.

Lady Chatterley's Lover (15)

Emma Corrin and Jack O'Connell shed their inhibitions in director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre's lust-fuelled period drama, adapted for the screen by David Magee from DH Lawrence's controversial novel.

Clifford Chatterley (Matthew Duckett) returns from the Great War to his wife Constance (Corrin) a broken man - physically and psychologically.

They retire to his family estate where staff including Clifford's nurse Mrs Barton (Joely Richardson) aid the lady of the manor in her daily duties.

Clifford desires an heir to continue the bloodline but injuries sustained in battle prevent him from fulfilling this marital task.

Consequently, he gives Constance his blessing to fall discreetly pregnant by another man on the strict "understanding" that he doesn't know the donor's identity.

Constance's eye falls upon the estate's sensitive, thoughtful gamekeeper Oliver Mellors (O'Connell) and she sparks a passionate and intense affair that threatens to tear apart the Chatterleys' strained marriage and scandalise the nearby village.