Weekend Movies: ‘Winter’ in Spring Presages Summer

Since summer blockbusters typically generate huge revenue for movie studios, it’s no surprise that Hollywood pushes ’em on us earlier and earlier each year. This year, it seems that summer is starting sooner than ever.

Marvel’s latest sequel in the “Phase 2” line-up debuts this weekend on nearly 4,000 screens. Chris Evans returns for ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier‘. It turns out that the sub-title has very little to do with the actual movie. Much like how the dark world was barely significant in ‘Thor: The Dark World‘, there’s a winter soldier in ‘The Winter Soldier’, but that’s hardly what the movie is about. Imagine Marvel as the surrogate mother to the love child of ‘Jack Ryan’ and ‘Minority Report’.

Something is awry in S.H.I.E.L.D. and, being the patriotic defender of truth and liberty, Cap won’t stand for it. He and friends, both old and new, will step on – and break – as many toes as necessary to defend justice. Scarlett Johansson returns to his side as Agent Romanoff (Black Widow) and newcomer Anthony Mackie joins their Cinematic Universe as Sam Wilson, a.k.a. The Falcon. With this political thriller based in a mostly believable reality, Marvel slips out of the extraterrestrial rut it’s been caught in lately. ‘The Winter Soldier’ is a refreshing and worthwhile blockbuster. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen ‘Captain America: The First Avenger‘, you may want to revisit that prior to seeing this one.

Although ‘Cap’ is the only wide release hitting theaters this weekend, plenty of indie limited releases debut as well.

The director of ‘The Matador‘ gives us another dark crime comedy, ‘Dom Hemingway‘. Jude Law stars as a safe-cracker who served 12 years in prison and never revealed the identity of a single cohort. Now on the outside, he wants to get paid for his time away.

Warner Bros. is releasing a 39-minute IMAX nature documentary that’s narrated by – you guessed it – Morgan Freeman. ‘Island of Lemurs: Madagascar‘ reveals the endangered reality of the creatures that have been native to the island for countless years.

‘Captain America’ isn’t the only Scarlett Johansson picture opening this weekend. If you follow any sort of entertainment news sites, you’ve undoubtedly read the hype surrounding ‘Under the Skin‘. If you’re oblivious to the news, Google the title and all you’ll find are media posts about Johansson’s supposed nude scene. However, the film may also have other appeal. In this sci-fi drama, Johansson plays an extraterrestrial being who seduces and kills. The plot may sound like a cheap excuse for sex and nudity not unlike ‘Species’, but the trailer reveals some gorgeous Kubrick-esque filmmaking.

Finally, if a little Johansson skin isn’t enough for you pervs out there, Lars von Trier’s unrated sex opus ‘Nymphomaniac: Volume II‘ opens just two weeks after ‘Volume I’ failed to gain traction in limited release.

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