Movie openings: The Beaver, Pirates 4 and more

The best of what's now playing at a multiplex near you.

new this week

THE BEAVER (R) Mel Gibson stars in this strange tale of a man with mental-health issues who begins communicating with the world through an intermediary — a shaggy beaver puppet he wears on his hand. Director Jodie Foster (who also co-stars) has made successful, off-beat movies before (Home For The Holidays is the best, least-traditional Christmas movie ever — with the exception of Bad Santa, of course), but teaming with PR nightmare Gibson for a movie with seemingly zero mainstream appeal seems like quite a flyer, even for her. There was supposed to be an advance screening of The Beaver for critics, but then the studio moved the release up a week and it was canceled. As such, I have no idea if The Beaver is worth a look. Chances are you've already decided against it, though. (Not reviewed)

CERTIFIED COPY (NR) Juliette Binoche stars in this film by noted Iranian writer and director Abbas Kiarostami. Set in Tuscany, Copy focuses on a British writer (William Shimell) and a French antiques dealer (Binoche), whose relationship undergoes an odd transformation over the course of a day. Binoche is great in everything (her performance won last year's Best Actress award at Cannes), and Certified Copy has been a critical darling since its 2010 European release. Opens Fri., May 20 at the Tampa Theatre.(Not reviewed)

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4: ON STRANGER TIDES (PG-13) Johnny Depp dons his pirate hat and gay Keith Richards personae for the fourth installment of Disney's "I can't believe there have been three of these already!" franchise based on a theme park ride. Pirates 4 is screening way too late for us to get a review into print (usually a sign the studio knows they have a stinker on their hands), but Kevin Hopp will have a review up at cltampa.com/movies by the end of the week.

recent releases

BRIDESMAIDS (R) Kristen Wiig reveals her uber-talent in Bridesmaids, the new Judd Apatow-produced comedy that's being compared with The Hangover — and rightfully so. With no boyfriend, no apartment and a bakery business that recently went bust, Annie (Wiig) is hitting rock bottom just as her lifelong friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is getting married. As maid of honor, Annie is given the task of helping plan Lillian's wedding, which bumps up awkwardly with her efforts to pull her life back together. In Bridesmaids, Wiig finally gets the chance to own the spotlight, and she pulls it off brilliantly. Aside from Wiig, the movie counts on strong performances from the supporting cast, including Maya Rudolph and Rose Byrne, and as with The Hangover, it's the over-the-top character acting in Bridesmaids that stays with you after the movie. There are comedies that come along every once in a while that leave a lasting mark on the audience and become cultural touchstones. Recent examples include Anchorman, The 40-Year Old Virgin and of course The Hangover. Add Bridesmaids to the list. —Daniel Feingold

EVERYTHING MUST GO (R) Will Ferrell stars as a salesman whose glory days have long since evaporated in a haze of women and drink. Returning home after being fired for yet another relapse, he finds the locks changed and all his stuff sitting on the front lawn. Staring at his worldly possessions and wondering what to do next, he reluctantly organizes his stuff into an everything-must-go sale that becomes a lingering metaphor for his desire (buried in his subconscious, to be sure) to start over. Ferrell delivers a solid performance, the supporting cast is spot-on (young Christopher Jordan Wallace should have a long career ahead of him), and first-time filmmaker Dan Rush is competent in the director's chair — yet I was still less than thrilled with Everything Must Go. This is a movie that seems to be shouting, "Look, I'm meant to be taken seriously!" but ultimately lacks the depth to pull it off. —Joe Bardi

FAST FIVE (PG-13) As the opening sequence to Fast Five reaches its astonishingly stupid payoff, The Onion's satiric conceit that the film was scripted by a 5-year-old doesn't seem too far off. Because nothing regarding Fast Five would make more sense than discovering that two enthusiastic 15-year-old boys raised on the worst Hollywood blockbusters had penned its screenplay. A movie as nonsensical, aimlessly energetic and full of testosterone as Fast Five is borne of the kind of adolescent enthusiasm whose creative process is propagated by questions that start with "Wouldn't it be cool if …" Ridiculous from start to finish in nearly every respect, Fast Five is fueled by copious amounts of hammy acting, macho posing and the kind of trash-talking banter that passes for comic relief in big, dumb action pictures like this. But even big, dumb action flicks need at least a trace amount of wit to be entertaining. Instead, Fast Five functions as a kind of black hole from which no intelligence can escape. —Anthony Salveggi

HANNA (PG-13) Raised in the forest by her father (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA agent, Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is a smart, attentive teenager who is also an expert at self-defense and survival. Her training in the woods is just the first of many rites of passage, including a looming showdown with the ruthless CIA agent (Cate Blanchett) responsible for Hanna and her father's exile. Working from a screenplay that keeps viewers off balance, director Joe Wright (Atonement) builds the suspense with a watchmaker's precision. Potent as Wright's direction is, the movie belongs to Ronan, who is astonishing in the title role. —AS

PRIEST (PG-13) Paul Bettany makes a credible badass as the eponymous, vamp-killing protagonist in Priest, a not-as-horrible-as-it-looks summer popcorn flick and the latest post-apocalyptic vampire yarn to see the big screen. After victory in the long-fought war with the race of vampires, human civilization is ruled by Big Brother, in the form of the Church. Shunned in society, Bettany's character is drawn back to the world of ass-kicking when his family is attacked and his niece kidnapped by a pack of vampires. What it lacks in clever dialogue, Priest compensates for with wow-factor. Lacking the camp of Van Helsing and the slick, gothic sex appeal of Underworld, Priest fills those holes by actually casting a few decent actors for simplistic roles. By no means revelatory or award-winning Priest is a guilty pleasure that won't send you running for the confessional. —Kevin Tall

SOMETHING BORROWED (PG-13) Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) is always putting others first, especially her best friend, the conniving and self-centered Darcy (Kate Hudson). Then Rachel shares a kiss with Darcy's fiancé Dex (Colin Egglesfield) after her 30th birthday party. This is in no way anything other than a horrible mistake made in the haze of intoxication, right? Well, no. Dex readily admits that he just wasn't that drunk and continues to pursue Rachel, which would be fine as the premise for a film if we weren't meant to feel all squishy and romantic about what they're doing. As it stands, Dex isn't supposed to be a douche, he's supposed to be the romantic lead. The lone voice of reason throughout this thing is Rachel's best friend, Ethan (John Krasinski — essentially still playing The Office's Jim Halpert). He has a healthy disdain for most of the people involved in this sordid love triangle, and you will too. —Shannon Bennett

THOR (PG-13) After previously introducing Iron Man and Hulk, Marvel now gives us Thor, bringing the God of Thunder from the comics into the cinematic Marvel universe. Thor (well played by Chris Hemsworth), a prince in a realm of powerful Viking-type guys, is banished to Earth by his angry father (Anthony Hopkins). Powerless and earthbound, he meets a hot scientist (Natalie Portman) and agents from S.H.I.E.L.D., a government agency that seems to be collecting superheroes. It's only when Thor's homeworld is threatened that he becomes worthy of his god status and harnesses the power he commands (plus one giant hammer) to save our world and his. Thor is an entertaining popcorn flick with something for the men (big action, hot nerd Natalie Portman), something for the ladies, and some of the men (ripped, shirtless Chris Hemsworth) and lots and lots of people getting hit with a hammer. Is it perfect? Not even close. But as the official start to a superhero-laden summer movie season, I guess Thor will do. —Kevin Hopp

SOURCE CODE (PG-13) In this cerebral and engrossing sci-fi mystery, the titular "code" is a top-secret government project that promises to send the consciousness of one person (say, a soldier played by Jake Gyllenhaal) into the body of another. Two catches: You can only jump into people after they're dead, and you only get to replay the last eight minutes of their lives. Gyllenhaal is tasked with jumping into the body of a man on a commuter train bound for Chicago that has already been destroyed in a terrorist attack and flushing out the bomber. Source Code is wonderful, heady, entertaining sci-fi that owes a large part of its success to fleshed-out characters that the audience will genuinely care about. —JB