July 27, 2013 at 10:08 AM ET
"The Wolverine" should claw its way to a healthy box-office win this weekend, as Hugh Jackman's mutant hero returns to theaters with another solo outing. But what if you're not a super-fan of superheroes? Maybe you're suffering from blockbuster burnout, and need an entertainment option of a kinder, gentler ilk. Here are some options, from lesser-known movies to home video and book choices.
You may not find "Fruitvale Station" playing next to "The Wolverine" and "Pacific Rim" at your local mall multiplex. But it's worth seeking out at an arthouse or indie theater if need be. It's based on the true story of Oscar Grant, 22, who was shot to death by a police officer at a San Francisco train station in the early hours of New Year's Day 2009. Grant was no saint, and the film doesn't portray him as such, but he was handcuffed and unarmed when he was killed by the officer, who had announced he was going for his Taser, then suddenly drew a gun and fired into Grant's back. The film won both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. See it with someone you're comfortable discussing social issues with, because whatever your mindset going in, you'll want to talk about it. (Check local theater listings.)
The final eight episodes of "Breaking Bad" are speeding towards us like a meth-powered RV, and if you need to catch up, the time is now. You can watch the already aired episodes on DVD or via online streaming, and there are plenty of online dissections of each episode's pros and cons. Walter White's transformation from Mr. Chips to Scarface has been an engrossing and terrifying one, and how it will end is anyone's guess. (Aug. 11, 9 p.m., AMC.)
'Orange Is the New Black'
"Orange Is the New Black" is no "Oz." This new Netflix-only series focuses on Piper Chapman, a wealthy blonde New Yorker who finds herself a fish out of water when she's sent to a women's prison for 15 months. Piper is accustomed to making artisanal soaps and wearing designer clothes, not fighting for phone calls and wearing neon-orange prison garb. The women she meets are fascinating, including Laura Prepon of "That '70s Show" as the lover who helped land Chapman behind bars in the first place, and an almost unrecognizable Kate Mulgrew as the prison cook who tries to starve Chapman out after a poorly timed insult. (Netflix streaming.)
'The Way Way Back'
The Atlantic said "The Way Way Back" may be the best movie of the summer, and includes A-list star Steve Carell, yet even the most dedicated moviegoer can be forgiven for not knowing about it -- it hasn't seen even a quarter of the publicity blitz that surrounds movies like "Pacific Rim." Kids of the 1970s and '80s will remember that "the way back" was what many of us called the oddly situated seats in the far back of a station wagon, and that's where 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) sits. He's struggling through life as his mom (Toni Collette) contemplates marrying her boorish boyfriend (Steve Carell). He meets pals at a local water park called Water Whizz and hears rumors that someone one passed another person in the tube slide, which seems impossible. One guess if it really is. (In theaters now.)
Books where you're not sure if you can trust the narrator make for bumpy and intriguing reads. The 2012 bestseller "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn takes a wife's disappearance and forces the reader to stay alert, hopping from one possible scenario to another. You'll be reminded of the Laci Peterson case more than once. And if you like the book, get ready for the eventual movie, which will star Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as the main couple. (In bookstores and available for download now.)
Need a book to keep you laughing while you're living in your 'Bring (Chrysler Sebring) or downing brews at 'Bee's (Applebee's)? You need to get your hands on "Power Moves," you guys. The new book is an in-depth look at the life of (fictional, or so they say) Karl Welzein, the bad boy behind the hilarious Dad Boner Twitter feed. Karl must cope with Nosey Lady at work and a wife and kids who just don't get his rockin' off-the-chain, all-American life. How is this book not No. 1 in America? Kinda concerning, you guys.