A Viewer's Guide to Weekend Movies: Choice Is an Illusion, Marvel Reigns Supreme

Presumably all other movie studios are afraid of a fight, because there is only one movie with a wide opening this weekend, from box-office powerhouse Marvel. Limited releases offer a bit more variety, thankfully, because your at-home options are lacking. 

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Presumably all other  movie studios are afraid of a fight, because there is only one movie with a wide opening this weekend, from box office powerhouse Marvel. Limited releases offer a bit more variety, thankfully, because your at-home options are lacking.

In Theaters

Welp, if you were looking for a bit of choice in your movie selection this weekend, you're S.O.L. because there is precisely one movie opening wide Friday, and everyone in the world is going to see it: Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

The Cap'n sequel is the latest in Marvel's "Phase Two" series of films, sandwiched between the second Thor and the next Avengers movie (there's Guardians of the Galaxy in there too, but it seems only tangential to the rest), and promises to be yet another superhero-fueled romp in the studio's money making streak. Everyone is familiar with the Marvel brand by now, and so you might think The Winer Soldier isn't likely to bring any new converts to the comic book movie phenomenon, but as The Wire's David Sims writes, the movie seems to operate as more than just "a cog in a larger machine. Someone with very little knowledge of the 'Marvel Cinematic Universe' could sit down and enjoy what is a largely rollicking action thriller without feeling too lost." Early reviews have been positive, and if you ignore the superhero-y stuff, The Winer Soldier could be an old fashioned government espionage thriller. So if you're brining along a superhero skeptic, or you yourself are one being dragged to the theater this weekend, the movie has a broader appeal than just setting up next summer's blockbusters. There are certainly worse movies to be forced into seeing. Captain America would be our official recommendation for this weekend, if any of us had any choice.

In Limited Release

BUT, if you still aren't convinced on Marvel's latest fare, there are a few limited-release films worth checking out this weekend. Headlining the smaller flicks is Jonathan Glazer's Under The Skin, which promises to be bonkers. It stars Scarlet Johansson as an alien-turned-murderous-seductress and – actually, just watch the trailer:

Glazer has a history of putting out weird stuff, all of which is at least interesting, fundamentally unsettling, and worth watching. Under The Skin promises to be all of that, taken up a notch.

Also opening in a handful of theaters this week are Nymphomaniac: Volume II, for those who didn't get enough Lars von Trier soft-core action the first time around; Frank & Alice which stars Halle Berry (who got a Golden Globe nomination for this film for 2010, because that's how long it's been on the shelf) as a go-go dancer with multiple personalities; and Dom Hemingway, with Jude Law as the titular character and which opened on Wednesday in a total of four theaters in the U.S. (two in New York City, two in Los Angeles). All of those are pretty meh options, to be honest, so we suggest Island of Lemurs: Madagascar in IMAX. It's opening in 30 theaters which cover a good chunk of the U.S., and it's a documentary about lemurs narrated by Morgan Freeman. Seriously, why see anything else?

Videos on Demand

Were you planning on hiding from the world by staying in and watching something on demand this weekend? Unfortunately, there isn't much in the way of new movies: you either have 47 Ronin, a movie featuring Keanu Reeves as a a revenge-seeking samurai, or Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which we shouldn't have to explain to you. The former has a whopping 13 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the latter is another two hours of Ron Burgundy and the gang's antics. As unnecessary as an Anchorman sequel might have been, it's still better than a movie from 2013 with Keanu Reeves.

Streaming on Netflix

New to Netflix Instant this week are three movies so bad they're worth watching in their own right, and a movie that actually should be good. First there is The Grandmaster from Wong Kar Wai, which looks to be a simply solid kung-fu movie. Pretty straightforward. But then we have Jobs, The Big Wedding, and Mega Shark versus Mecha Shark.  Let's run down the options. You can watch Ashton Kutcher play Steve Jobs in the first (but probably not last) disappointing biopic of the Apple founder; Robert DeNiro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace, and Amanda Seyfried get into all sorts of multi-generational family drama; or one giant shark fight one giant robot shark. Those are some wide-variety options for your hate-watching and so-bad-it's-good viewing. But you should probably go with the last one.

Movies on TV

HBO is apparently trying to compete with movie theaters this weekend by showing two superhero movies of its own: The Dark Knight Rises kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday night, followed immediately by Man of Steel at 9 p.m. Whether you go with HBO's offerings or Captain America probably depends on your comic book allegiances: Marvel or DC? Showtime is running the Keri Russell-starring horror flick Dark Skies on Friday night, but all of Saturday evening is dedicated to a Shameless marathon. While not a movie, it wouldn't be a bad way to spend a weekend night.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.