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New in Theaters May 02: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Walk of Shame, Belle

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By Chris Kavan - 05/01/14 at 06:44 AM CT

Summer movie season officially kicks off this weekend. With only one wide-release film opening - we'll see if a web slinger has as much success as Captain America. Beyond the obvious blockbuster, there a couple of limited-release films that could spark some buzz (or has as good a chance at being forgotten). The year has been almost universally up across the board compared to last year - but none of the early victories will amount to anything if the high-profile films can't match the might of the surprisingly strong 2013 summer films. This weekend will give an early indication of where things are heading.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 Now that we're done with yet another origin story, we get to see how this new Spider-Man story is going to play out. Considering there are at least two more films in the works (if not a few more spinoffs) - there is a lot riding on the franchise. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone return as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy - the main villain this time is OsCorp - a corporation so evil, they develop villains strictly to test and/or bring down New York's finest web-slinging hero. This includes Jamie Foxx, who is transformed from meek scientist to electronic menace (Electro), Peter's one-time friend Harry Osborne shows up (Dane DeHaan) only to take on the mantle of Green Golbin and Paul Giamatti shows up as the armor-encased Rhino. The film has a massive $200 million budget and, I have to say personally, that while I will most likely end up watching this, the film to me looks much weaker than Captain America as well as the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past films. I just think the film is trying too hard - throwing too many villains into the mix (shads of Spider-Man 3) and looking too far forward while not focusing on the present. I could be wrong - it could turn out to be a great movie but from all the previews I've seen, it doesn't look like a particularly memorable one. I'm especially concerned over Foxx's Electro - but if the movie manages to mix some depth in with all the CGI battles, it could turn out for the better.

BELLE This is the kind of period drama that will appeal to the more art house crowd and could draw some early award-season buzz. If it gets good reviews - which, early on, is decidedly mixed. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is posed to be the next Lupita Nyong'o as she played the mixed-raced daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral who is raised in aristocratic society by her great-uncle. Of course this causes all kinds of problems - both within and outside her family, as she works to bring about a chance to society. Instead of being set in America, this film is sent in 1700s England, so the tone is going to be quite a bit different than, say, 12 Years a Slave. This is the kind of film that's going to rise or fall based on word-of-mouth and audience (and critical) reception. If it doesn't get either, it will fade fast and any award-season hope with die off quickly. But should it get the right kind of attention - who knows, it could become a sleeper hit.

WALK OF SHAME The other limited-release film of note is Walk of Shame - and that's due to the face it represents the first true leading role for Elizabeth Banks. She plays a reporter up for a news anchor position whose prospects of landing a dream job are hampered by a one-night stands that leaves her without transportation, money, phone or even ID - and she has eight hours to reclaim her life and get to an interview. It all sounds pretty shallow and a bit misogynistic to me - but, hey, Banks has proven she can take on a variety of roles, so hopefully this is just a stepping-stone to something bigger and better. We'll see what audience shows up for this one and if can expand to something more in the next few weeks or if it will largely be ignored as time goes on.

All eyes are going to be on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - as a benchmark for the summer movie season. It's going to dominate the weekend - but the question will be just how big it opens. I'll be back Sunday with the results.


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