Another May week, another blockbuster with a wide release, this time featuring Godzilla leveling cities. But there are plenty of other movies out this week worth your attention, not to mention all your at-home options.
What to see this weekend comes down to a fundamental question: Would you rather watch people learning to play baseball, or a giant monster wrecking shit?
First, there's Godzilla. The king of the monsters is back for another movie and somehow it actually looks interesting, considering the last American Godzilla movie. You can thank the trailer for that, before which the thought of a Godzilla remake inspired little more than an eye-roll. But the combo of Bryan Cranston's frantic yelling and the fleeting glimpses of our giant friend is, admittedly, pretty freaking awesome.
Now that Godzilla is actually out, critics are sort of split. The movie has a solid 74 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but reviews range from "the best action movie since Jaws" to "sure is boring." The Wire's David Sims, while not quite that hyperbolic, writes: "It wants to dazzle and awe its audience with sheer spectacle, even though they should at this point be completely inured to computer-rendered visions of city destruction, giant creatures and ear-crushing roars and groans. Incredibly, it succeeds." A lot of credit should go to director Gareth Edwards, who by all accounts put together a stunning film. We're going to go on record as recommending you see Godzilla this weekend, if only because "more than anything, Godzilla is about how puny we are," according to Sims, and we could all use a reminder.
If you're still not convinced, your other wide-release option is baseball flick Million Dollar Arm. Jon Hamm stars in this based-on-a-true-story tale of a down-and-out sports agent (you can follow the real guy on Twitter) who tried to convert a pair of Indian cricket players into major league pitchers. From the looks of it, Million Dollar Arm is a rather bland mixture of sports movie cliches and culture-clash hijinks, but its 55 RT rating suggests it could be decent.
In Limited Release
More interesting small releases this week join last week's crop. The Immigrant boasts the impressive trio of Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner. Cotillard plays the titular polish immigrant, who gets mixed up at Ellis Island and eventually finds herself getting taken advantage of by Phoenix. Renner plays the good guy to Phoenix's bad, apparently. A.O. Scott at the New York Times called it "messy and glorious, a potboiler with the soul of a tragedy."
Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in Half of a Yellow Sun, an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel set during the Nigerian civil war. The novel is excellent, but the movie is hovering in the mid-50s on RT, so make of that what you will.
Videos on Demand
This one is simple. If you're going to watch a movie on demand this weekend, watch Her. Spike Jonze won an Oscar for his screenplay, and Joaquin Phoenix probably should've been nominated for his mopey turn as the quietly narcissistic Theodore Twombly. Her has its issues, but it's an interesting film regardless. And considering your alternatives are the clichéd rom-com That Awkward Moment (at least it has Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan?) or I, Frankenstein (nope, no redeeming qualities), this is a clear-cut choice.
Streaming on Netflix
Want something over-the-top? Try Michael Bay's sort-of satirical money/cars/crime movie Pain & Gain, starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie. Want something more subdued? Joss Whedon's modern re-telling of Much Ado About Nothing, which he filmed at his own house, is available on Netflix Instant. Or there's Finding Normal, starring none other than Candace Cameron Bure, aka D.J. Tanner.
Movies on TV
Fast and Furious 6 is on HBO at 8 p.m. Saturday, which could be paired with Pain & Gain for a double-feature laden with fast cars, sweat, and excess. On Showtime at 8 p.m. Saturday is Django Unchained for the second time in a month, but it's long (and Tarantino-esque) enough that you probably missed something when it was on in April.