Which sequel strikes your fancy? After last week's oasis of originality, we're back to the grand summer tradition of franchises dominating the marquee. But limited releases offer some interesting options, and Netflix always has your back.
Just remember to watch the first movie(s) before you head to the theaters this weekend.
22 Jump Street is the follow up to the remake/TV show adaptation 21 Jump Street that surprised people by being actually pretty hilarious. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are back as undercover partners, but instead of infiltrating another high school, they've graduated and shipped off to college. While 21 worked by exceeding expectations, 22 seems to falter a bit. "21 Jump Street had a specific goal in making fun of high school movies," The Wire's David Sims writes. "22 Jump Street, on the other hand, has none of the same jokes to make about college, and instead leans on lamer, creakier humor." Still, Sims notes that 22 "manages to avoid the problems of so many cookie-cutter comedy sequels" and is self-aware enough to know what the audience is thinking while watching what could very well be a boring retread, and tries to undermine that. It sort of works, apparently, thanks mostly to the chemistry between Hill and Tatum.
The other, family-friendlier sequel hitting theaters is How To Train Your Dragon 2 –the first being another film that exceeded expectations. The second brings the same Viking/dragon action as the first, this time with the two working together to stave off some coming invasion (at least that's what I gather from the trailer); basically a fun, enjoyable kids movie (It’s easy to take for granted the familiar pleasures of a good animated movie," Wesley Morris opens his review for Grantland). This seems like one of the safest bets of the weekend, considering its whopping 92 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes right now.
In Limited Release
On the limited front, there are enough options that you should be able to find something that piques your interest. Aaron Paul headlines in Hellion, a film about a single father struggling (Paul) to be the parent his sons need him to be, but it's Josh Wiggins playing one of Paul's sons that's getting the critical acclaim. Lullaby has a notable cast (Richard Jenkins, Terrance Howard, Amy Adams, Jennifer Hudson, etc.), but has a 29 percent RT rating, so be warned. The Rover, a post-society dystopian film starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, looks a bit better, as does The Signal, but it's one of those films with an eerie sci-fi trailer that so often ends up disappointing:
Video on Demand
Testosterone dominates on Demand this weekend: you can watch Chris Pine and Kevin Costner macho it up in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (it's pretty typical Tom Clancy fare) or Liam Neeson do Liam Neeson things on an airplane in Non-Stop. For a change of pace, try Repentance starring Forest Whitaker. Unfortunately, none of the three look particularly great, so you might as well go with Neeson.
Streaming on Netflix
Finished burning through Orange Is the New Black? There's plenty new to Netflix Instant to distract you from the fact that it'll be an entire year before more Orange: Renee Zellweger won an Oscar for Cold Mountain, Harrison Ford is a badass in Clear and Present Danger (more Clancy!) and Wayne's World is, well, Wayne's World. If you've seen Edge of Tomorrow and want more Cruise, there's Mission: Impossible III. If none of those interest you, Annie Hall is Woody Allen's best. But please, take some time this weekend to experience the joys of Johnny Mnemonic. There's poking fun at outdated tech movies, and then there's watching Johnny Mnemonic:
Movies on TV
Creepy horror flick The Conjuring premieres on HBO Saturday at 9 p.m. It stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson and has a solid RT rating, so if horror movies are your thing, by all means. On Showtime Saturday, you can watch Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds at 6 p.m., or Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman at 10 p.m.