Friday Flicks: Is ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ the New Hero We Need?

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Paramount Pictures/Marvel Studios

Grab some popcorn! NewsFeed’s Glen Levy brings you the movies you should check out (or avoid) this weekend.

Captain America: The First Avenger

“It’s a great story about a relatable guy,” relays star Chris Evans on his new role in Captain America: The First Avenger. But then he would say that, wouldn’t he?  Yet you wonder if he’s underselling the situation somewhat. After all, we are talking about the guy, who on the cover of the first edition of the comic book, is seen punching out Adolf Hitler. We’d all like to relate to that but can we?

Evans is probably referring to the fact that his character, Steve Rogers, is “a 90-pound asthmatic,” who nevertheless is chosen for a top-secret (is there any other kind?) military experiment. “Is it too late to go to the bathroom?” asks Rogers. Oh you’d better believe it. He’s injected with a serum that, according to Col. Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) will transform him into “a new breed of super-soldier” who’ll “personally escort Adolf Hitler to the gates of hell.” Relate to that.

Presumably Der Führer wasn’t available, because the baddie here is Johann Schmidt/the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) who likes to dabble in the occult as much as the next guy (in fact, by the looks of it, as much as any guy). And what’s more, he kicks back by listening to Wagner. Well, of course he does. Anyway, about Schmidt. He heads up the Hydra organization, which is the Nazi’s science division. How evil are they? Willing to kill fellow Nazis, that’s how evil though, really, Schmidt’s simply gone rogue in the name of good old fashioned world domination.

Reading between the lines, the main purpose of Captain America may well have been to serve as the last Marvel Universe prequel (in a similar vein to the Iron Man and Hulk movies) as we gear up to next year’s superhero behemoth The Avengers. Will we remember Captain America fondly? With disdain? Or even worse, not at all? Director Joe Johnston has been down this rocky road before, taking charge of The Rocketeer. Perhaps they do make ’em like they used to.

(LIST: Top 10 Long-Running Movie Franchises)

Friends with Benefits

Straight off the bat, you want to dislike Friends with Benefits. For starters, it stars Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, who are not just beautiful but talented (which brings to mind that great Larry David quote, “I’ll tell you something about good looking people: we’re not well liked.”) If we find out that Kunis can sing, that will make them both triple threats and does the world need that in addition to yet another buddies-who-boink rom com?

But it’s probably simplest to just submit to their charms. She’s an executive headhunter (Jamie), he’s an art director (Dylan) at a website who is persuaded by Jamie to become the new hire at GQ magazine. There are dinner dates, a dash of apparent self-awareness from constantly asserting that they’re aware of cliches from the movies (“Shut up Katherine Heigl, you stupid liar!) but won’t fall for them and, ahem, start having sex with – but of course! – no strings attached.

The movie seems to be in safe hands: rounding out the cast are the always watchable Patricia Clarkson as Jamie’s mother, Richard Jenkins as Dylan’s aging father (if only we lived in a world where Clarkson and Jenkins could get cast as leads) and Woody Harrelson as Dylan’s co-worker. As for director Will Gluck, he scored deserved raves for last year’s Easy A, starring Emma Stone (who pops up briefly here). The only problem was that nobody saw it. If Gluck has better luck second time around, it may be testament to Kunis and Timberlake’s star power, even though they’re a million miles away from being the new Tracy and Hepburn. But in 2011, we’ll take what we can get.

NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: They might be wildly differing movies but, in a sense, there’s not much in it: we’ll go for Friends with Benefits.

(MORE: TIME’s review of Easy A)

Glen Levy is an Executive Producer at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @glenjl. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.