The Amazing Spider-Man 2 blocks out the sun this week and will own the box office. But that doesn't mean there aren't other quality movies worth seeing, there just aren't too many of them. The tulips aren't looking to fight the bulldozer.
Spidey 2 is the second of four Marvel movies due in theaters this year (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy). All will make tons of money as the public's thirst has yet to wane in this, the golden era of comic book films. As one of the genre's most popular (and best costumed) heroes, Spider-Man can't really lose. At the very least, the sequel will feature mind-blowing CGI and acrobatics. It's a veritable feast for the eyes.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Have faith in Garfield and Stone, the real-life couple whose onscreen chemistry rivals anything Richard Gere and Julia Roberts have ever done. The two light up the screen as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. So what better way to instill peril in this sequel than putting Stacy in harm's way? Spider-Man's greatest fear is hurting the people he loves. In ASM2, Spidey must battle a number of foes, chiefly Electro (Foxx) and the Green Goblin (DeHaan), while doing his best to protect Gwen and his beloved Aunt May (Field). The story is typical comic book fare with the video game structure intact—Spidey engages in a bunch of small battles in order to get to the big one at the end. The spectacle is the reason to get excited. That, plus the hero and his spunky girlfriend. See it.
Inspired by a painting by Johann Zoffany, Belle is a coming of age tale set in 18th century British society that recalls the tales of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. It's the story of the mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy officer who comes to live with her father's parents in England. She's raised in society despite vicious racism all around her and falls in love with a man who sees past her exterior. The film is propelled by its talented cast of Brits, led by newcomer Mbatha-Raw (best known as the manic pixie dream girl in Larry Crowne). She gives a heartfelt performance apparent even in the trailer and the supporting cast brings instant credibility. See it.
Walk of Shame
Starring Banks as a news reporter whose one night stand turns into an epic crisis, Walk of Shame is the kind of low I.Q. comedy that's more frustrating than funny. Remember The Sitter from a couple years back? This is essentially the same thing. Banks has her car towed with her purse inside and, despite it being 2014, she has the time of her life making it 25 blocks back to her office where she has to give an important, promotion-on-the-line broadcast. Banks is so likable, the movie might generate a few laughs, but this one looks forgettable. Skip it.
Starring: Agata Trzebuchowska, Agata Kulesza, Dawid Ogrodnik
Directed by the talented Pawel Pawlikowski (My Summer of Love), Ida is the story of a young nun on the verge of taking her vows who discovers the truth about herself and her family in 1960s Poland. Initially sent to meet her aunt (Kulesza) and lone family member, Anna (Trzebuchowska) learns her real name is Ida and her Jewish family was murdered during World War II. Polarized, the young woman decides to seek out her parents' grave and she and her aunt begin a journey that will change their lives. Ida was a festival champion last year and Pawilkowski's work is always worth seeing. See it.
The Protector 2
Like all Tony Jaa films (Ong Bak), The Protector 2 is huge on stunt work and slow on story. Every character and line of dialogue is meant to do one thing: make Jaa fight. It's a little ironic then, that this movie's plot does the exact same thing. Jaa returns as Kham, the elephant loving Muy Thai master who you don't want to get angry. He becomes embroiled in a murder plot and, despite his innocence, must fend off the police and a pair of gorgeous Thai hit girls to clear his name. The innocent fighter is a staple of action filmmaking and it's not the reason to see The Protector 2. Jaa is. He's one of the few action stars working today that's actually worth the price of admission. He's a force of nature. See it.