By Sarah Sluis
"Old-fashioned rightness and integrity" take center stage in Captain America: The First Avenger (3,715 theatres), which received a thumbs-up from critic Frank Lovece. The "heroic achievement" of a film features "bravura action sequences, exceptional performances and core emotional truth." Just don't see it in 3D, Lovece warns. The effects, added in post-production, are "barely noticeable."
Captain America's biggest competitor will be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which earned $169 million last weekend. Deathly Hallows Part 1 fell 60% in its second weekend. A similar drop would put Deathly Hallows Part 2 at $67 million its second weekend, slightly above the expected opening of Captain America. The superhero movie, which has the added benefit of 2,511 3D screens, is considered capable of a $55-60 million debut.
Comedy-seeking audiences will have the second opportunity this year to catch an R-rated "buddies who hook up" romantic comedy. This winter's No Strings Attached grabbed 49% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Friends with Benefits (2,926 theatres) is faring slightly better, with 65% positive reviews from critics. Critic Kevin Lally wasn't one of those in favor. Though "Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis make an attractive couple," the movie is way too "superficial." One extended gag involves a rom-com inside a rom-com, which didn't quite work with Lally. "If you're going to make fun of rom-com tropes, you had better make certain you're not wallowing in them yourself." Though the market has been saturated with R-rated comedies, Friends with Benefits should rack up at least $20 million.
Festival favorite Another Earth (4 theatres) uses the sci-fi genre to "mount a 'what-if' investigation of penance, redemption, and the possibility of a second chance to make a terrible act come right." Actor/writer Brit Marling is a star on the rise, making this a movie a "must see" for in-the-know indie moviegoers.
A woman's family's complicity in the Holocaust is explored in Sarah's Key (5 theatres), an adaptation of a book of the same name. Alternating between WWII and modern times, Kristin Scott Thomas plays a woman who is trying to determine what happened to the Jewish family who lived in her family's current home until 1942. Doris Toumarkine praised Scott Thomas' performance, noting that the movie puts the viewer through an emotional ringer, with "alternating wonderful, horrifying and tear-inducing moments."
On Monday, we'll see what kind of muscle Captain America wielded at the box office, and if audiences were ready for a second rom-com with the same premise as No Strings Attached.