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.