Reliable names like Pixar and Marvel Comics bring us somewhat disappointing movies this week at the bargain theaters.
Even when making sequels in the past, Pixar has been the most reliable bet in movies over the past 15 years. But Cars 2 breaks that streak in a big way, taking Lightning McQueen and Mater on a trip to Europe where they get involved in international espionage. Technically, the film is as spectacular as ever, but for the first time, a Pixar movie feels as though it's all empty calories, without any soul beyond the in-jokes and references.
Captain America: The First Avenger -- with Chris Evans as the World War II-era 90-pound weakling who takes an experimental formula to make him a super-soldier -- proves empty in a different way. Despite some energetic staging by director Joe Johnston, the character of Captain America just has nowhere to go; he's a decent, upstanding guy who becomes a decent, upstanding guy, only now with the ability to kick ass. It's all part of the grand setup for The Avengers next summer -- where, ironically, Captain America might actually have an interesting character arc to show us.