What Movie Should I Watch This Weekend?

Movies in Theaters on May 6, 2011

Fast Five may have claimed that summer started last weekend, but Hollywood still considers the first weekend of May to be the true start of the season. This year we begin the hot times with Shakespeare maestro Kenneth Branagh directing a comic book movie, Rutger Hauter on a violent rampage, Mel Gibson channeling his madness through a hand puppet and Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington considering cheating on each other. It’s going to be a strange and complicated summer.

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The character of Thor is one of the hardest sells in the entire Marvel Universe, so something of a magic trick must be conjured to make summer movie audiences love this god/alien/whatever he is as much as they did, say, Iron Man. But according to early buzz (the movie is currently doing great business overseas), director Kenneth Branagh was definitely the right man for the job. Branagh’s love of bombastic Shakespearean melodrama is perfect for Thor, and his bad habit of not knowing when to quit with the sweeping camera movements and other excesses will probably be kept in check by the whip-cracking Marvel Films producers keeping an eye on him (and their precious Avengers franchise). Bring on the God of Thunder!

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Another case of “the title is also the pitch” (a la Snakes on a Plane), Hobo With a Shotgun casts an irresistible lure, mostly because of the fact that the hobo in question is played by Rutger Hauer, who at this point is probably completely batsh** crazy (or is it “Batty?”). Everyone loved this flick at Sundance, but that goes without saying; how could they not? The damn thing is called Hobo With a Shotgun, and it stars Rutger Hauer. The movie just makes itself from there. If it’s still amusing after ten minutes, we have a winner.

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Speaking of now being completely batsh** crazy, Mel Gibson stars in this drama about a troubled man who adopts a beaver hand puppet as his sole means of communicating, a form of therapy that his friends, family and co-workers find hard to embrace. Gibson’s Maverick pal Jodie Foster directs and co-stars in a movie that sounds like it needs to be pitch-perfect in every detail if it’s not going to come across as completely ludicrous, though early word says that Gibson manages to pull it off with his terrific performance. We remain skeptical, even though the talent’s definitely there to make this bizarro scenario work.

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What idiot would cheat on Keira Knightley? And what idiot would cheat on Sam Worthington? Alas, marriage is hard for impossibly beautiful people, too, as Knightley and Worthington play a couple who face temptation when he goes on a business trip with a hot colleague and she runs into a former flame who never really put down the torch. Though the story may end up being slight and the conflict somewhat repetitive, we think Keira and Sam will carry this one all the way to the finish line, ably assisted by Guillaume Canet and Eva Mendes as the respective devils on their shoulders.

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