"The Avengers" will take most of the attention at this weekend's box office; the Marvel franchise mash-up delivers 142 minutes of satisfying, bombastic entertainment, with Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. stealing the show. But because not everyone is a comic book fanatic or 3-D enthusiast, there are plenty of smaller offerings to ward off the invasion.
Ballet doc "First Position" showcases talented and inspiring young dancers competing for their dreams, while "Last Call at the Oasis" focuses its coverage of the water crisis on the real-life Erin Brockovich. Richly-hued "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" delivers charm with a stellar senior cast, and "Death of a Superhero" features strong performances from the likes of Andy Serkis, sans-costume (he's known for playing Cesar in "Planet of the Apes" and Gollum in "Lord of the Rings"). "The Perfect Family" (one of Indiewire's recommended VOD offerings), Kate Hudson's "A Little Bit of Heaven" and Samuel L. Jackson and Luke Wilson's "Meeting Evil" also arrive in theaters this weekend.
Reviews, trailers and more details below.
"The Avengers" Disney, US | Dir: Joss Whedon; Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy REnner, Samuel L. Jackson | It's All About the Hulk | Whedon is The Hero Whisperer | Best Super Hero Movie of All Time? | 93% Fresh.
"First Position" Sundance Selects, US | Dir: Bess Kargman | 88% Fresh | Time says: "At least half of these young dynamos and their families, all vying for coveted scholarships and spots in ballet companies, could brighten the most forlorn perspective on the state of the American dream."
"Last Call at the Oasis" ATO Pictures, US | Dir: Jessica Yu; Featuring: Erin Brockovich | ThePlaylist's Exclusive Clip | 67% Fresh | Village Voice says: "…cumulatively the story feels a little scattered. Are we talking about overuse or poor urban planning? Drought or climate change? Pollution or the public's magical thinking? Ultimately, it's all connected, and with as fascinating and far-ranging an issue as this one, you can't fault the director for wanting to fit it all in."
"Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" Fox Searchlight, UK | DIr: John Madden; Cast: Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith | From Pleasant Surprise to Phenomenon | 78% Fresh | Roger Ebert says: "A charming, funny and heartwarming movie ... a smoothly crafted entertainment that makes good use of seven superb veterans."
"Death of a Superhero" Tribeca Film, GER | Dir: Iam Fitzgibbon; Cast: Andy Serkis, Thomas Sangster, Michael McElhatton, Sharon Horgan | Indiewire Meets the Filmmaker | 100% Fresh | Variety says: "Mix of live-action and animation could attract a youth audience, but the pic's general appeal will lie in its honesty and touching performances."
"The Perfect Family" Variance, US | Dir: Anne Renton; Cast: Emily Deschanel, Jason Ritter, Kathleen Turner, Richard Chamberlain | 58% Rotten | James Rocchi says: "Hardly perfect, but definitely trying to be good." | Indiewire interviews Turner.
"A Little Bit of Heaven" Millennium Entertainment, US | Dir: Nicole Kassell; Cast: Kate Hudson, Gael Garcia Bernal, Lucy Punch, Peter Dinklage, Kathy Bates, Whoopi Goldberg | 6% Rotten | EW says: "As embodied with clueless good humor by Kate Hudson, fatal sickness looks more like a lifestyle and wardrobe choice than a tragedy."
"Meeting Evil" Magnet Releasing, US | Dir: Chris Fisher; Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Leslie Bibb, Luke Wilson, Peyton List | Slant says: "Chris Fisher so over-directs his material that the action takes on the sheen of a parody or, at least, of a film that doesn't realize its clichés are being exaggerated to the point of absurdity."