Thor: The Dark World: Marvel's Thor movie was a nice (if mild) surprise back in 2011, probably because to that point Marvel Studios had only really worked on one non-Iron Man movie of their own, and that was The Underwhelming Hulk. So the fact that Thor's trademark Marvel penny-pinching (a lot of it is set in a small town in New Mexico) turned into advantage—Thor as a fish out of water is funny! His romance with Natalie Portman is actually pretty charming!—and that Chris Hemsworth made a credible alien-god-thing all contributed to a feeling that it could have been much worse (despite the clunky Avengers set-up section in the middle where Hawkeye is dropped into the movie without connection to anyone else on screen, like Usher in She's All That). But then later that summer, Captain America: The First Avenger came out, and it was even more surefooted and sprightly than Thor; and then the next year there was The Avengers (in which Thor was probably the least-used team member), and then this summer brought a surprisingly robust Iron Man 3. All of this adds up to me being super-excited for the upcoming Captain America sequel and pretty much back to square one with ol' hammer-man. That said, you (assuming "you" are someone who hasn't immediately stopped reading this because it's about a comic-book character named Thor) might as well get excited about Thor: The Dark World for the same reason it's going to make a ton of money this weekend and next weekend: there hasn't been a big comic-book movie since The Wolverine! Three-plus months! Obviously, there are too many superhero movies in general, but I think a big part of the problem is just how many of them stake out summer spots, stacked on top of one another, so I'm grateful that Marvel ventured into Thanksgiving territory with this one. Like the Pierce Brosnan James Bond movies and the Next Generation Star Trek movies during the nineties, it's a blockbuster-in-waiting that seems a bit more exciting given the dearth of big, splashy, fantastical action movies around it (this is also why it will be slammed by Catching Fire when it comes out two weekends hence). I'm now thinking that maybe The Wolverine—a relatively quiet and intimate blockbuster comics movie—should have taken a fall date despite the X-Men summer tradition. Maybe they can try that with the just-announced (and unexpected-by-me) Wolverine sequel. Anyway, I started off talking about Thor but drifted over to Wolverine; yeah, that seems about right.
Best Man Down and A Case of You: If you're not feeling Thor and you're all caught up on the big serious movies of the past few weeks, well, you're in luck, and by in luck I mean screwed, because not one but two Justin Long indie comedies are coming out—or rather, one, A Case of You, is coming to a few theaters, while Best Man Down is primarily an On Demand affair. Anyway, it's not that there's anything inherently wrong with Justin Long. The one of these I haven't seen, Best Man Down, actually has an intriguing premise: Long's best man dies right before his wedding, prompting a trip to the dead man's hometown, where his friend learns a lot of new, weird stuff about him. The one that you can actually go out of your house to see, A Case of You, is very, very occasionally cute, and much, much more often infuriatingly terrible. But a lot of the crowd at the Tribeca Film Festival this past spring seemed to dig it, so maybe I'm just impossible to please. In any case, any of my Justin Long viewing for the immediate future will probably involve checking in on his arc on the CBS sitcom Mom, every episode of which is currently sitting on my DVR unwatched (well, OK, I watched the pilot, which is probably why I haven't watched any more).