With ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2′ crushing every opening weekend box office record last week, it’s going to be tough for either of our two major new releases to knock the boy wizard off his pedestal. Does a second-string Marvel superhero or a carbon copy of a six-month-old sex-buddies romantic comedy have the power to dethrone Harry and his friends?
Receiving the widest release this weekend is ‘Captain America: The First Avenger‘, Marvel’s final superhero origin film prior to next summer’s huge release of ‘The Avengers’. Like I said in my review earlier today, ‘Captain America’ just might be the best of any of Marvel’s big screen comic book adaptations. It definitely exceeds the others in handling the character’s origin. Instead of featuring a weak third-act villain, ‘Captain America’ seamlessly blends the superhero’s backstory with a solid, full-fledged plot.
I’ve been surprised by the lack of buzz around ‘Captain America’. Sure, even I didn’t think it would compare to ‘Thor‘ or ‘Iron Man‘, but I was thoroughly surprised by how well the action flick turned out. Once positive word-of-mouth spreads, ‘Captain America’ ought to draw in and win-over even the naysayers.
The nationwide underdog release of the week is ‘Friends with Benefits‘, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Much like January’s ‘No Strings Attached‘, the romantic comedy follows two best friends as they give casual sex a shot. Of course, true emotions begin to develop and things get complicated. What sets ‘Friends with Benefits’ apart from ‘No Strings Attached’ is the tone and comedy.
While I personally thought that ‘No Strings Attached’ was far better than it appeared, ‘Friends with Benefits’ is the stronger of the two. It plays more like an R-rated comedy, and strong laughs are a constant. Just be warned: ‘Friends with Benefits’ is the much more vulgar, crude and graphic of the two. Some scenes resemble soft-core non-nudity porn more than a romantic comedy.
Opening in limited release this week is ‘Another Earth‘, winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize and Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. In the indie drama, a second planet just like Earth is found in space. As it draws nearer and first contact is made, it is discovered that “Earth 2″ is a mirror version of our world. Everyone who exists on our Earth also exists on Earth 2.
The sobering drama follows a girl trying to escape her past by traveling to Earth 2, only to get even more caught up in the things that damn her. ‘Another Earth’ isn’t without its faults, but it’s definitely a worthy candidate this weekend for those who enjoy intimate indie dramas.
Another indie film opening this week is ‘A Little Help‘, a comedy starring Jenna Fischer as a single mom who gets tangled up in a web of lies while trying to provide for her teenage son. The consensus from early reviews tend to agree that ‘A Little Help’ proves that Fischer can carry a film on her own, although the film itself is mostly dreadful and too long.