Technically, this weekend only has one major new wide release – a superhero should-be blockbuster. However, two more limited releases also expand nationwide. These three and a few other small titles offer quite an array of viewing options.
The biggest release, of course, is Marvel’s second stand-alone tale with the Asgardian Avenger. ‘Thor: The Dark World‘ picks up two years after the events in the first film and some time after ‘The Avengers’. As was the case with the first ‘Thor‘, ‘The Dark World’ opens with an Odin-narrated introduction to the villains – a group of age-old Dark Elves who were long ago defeated by Odin’s father and thought dead. Naturally, they’ve returned to collect the weapon that Asgard confiscated after their defeat. Unless Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Earthling Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), utterly annoying sidekick Darcy (Kat Dennings) and randomly mad scientist Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) can stop the elves, all nine realms will be wiped out. Of course, Marvel can’t make a ‘Thor’ movie without its recurring arch villain, so Loki (Tom Hiddleston) also returns in a major role. For those who choose to see ‘The Dark World’ this weekend, don’t leave your seat until the credits are entirely over, because they contain two additional (and unfitting) scenes – a lead-in to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and what should have been a Blu-ray outtake.
Meanwhile, nationwide expansions include the critically acclaimed ‘12 Years a Slave‘ and ‘About Time‘. I highly recommend both. If you want to steer clear of packed ‘Thor’ showings, you truly can’t go wrong with either.
20th Century Fox is giving ‘The Book Thief‘ the same type of slow roll-out release strategy as Searchlight does with many of its films. Based on the popular novel, a young girl in Nazi Germany escapes from reality by stealing books and sharing them with others. It turns out that a Jewish family is hidden beneath the flooring of the girl’s home. I’ve never read the book, but I’m going to take a crack at figuring out the whole movie by guessing that the girl gets caught stealing, which leads to police finding the Jewish family. ‘The Book Thief’ only hits four screens this weekend, so I’ll have to wait until it expands to find out if I’m right.
From Sony Pictures Classics, ‘The Armstrong Lie‘ opens on five screens. This documentary spans cyclist Lance Armstrong’s rise to fame to his self-inflicted demise. Personally, I couldn’t care less about athletic controversies, so a 122-minute doc about a cyclist on ‘roids doesn’t appeal to me.
Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald (‘One Day in September’, ‘The Last King of Scotland’) has a new wartime drama. ‘How I Live Now‘ stars Saoirse Ronan as a girl living in the English countryside when a major war breaks out. She fights for her family, love and survival, and the trailer appears to blend the three well. When the movie opened over a month ago in the UK, the consensus of the reviews there was positive.