Fall Movie Preview
Below is a brief rundown on some of the coming season’s approaching films in order by release date with cast lists and trailers.
Never Let Me Go – Starring Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan (An Education), and Andrew Garfield (upcoming Spider-Man reboot). Directed by Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo).
A moody story with sci-fi elements about the boarding school that three characters attended and its dark secrets they discover. Based on the trailer this looks promising with a handling of the sci-fi genre and dour color scheme similar to Children of Men. This may be this year’s other (less sensational) sci-fi for smart people.
The Town – Starring Ben Affleck, Blake Lively (Gossip Girl), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Pete Postlethwaite (The Lost World: Jurassic Park), Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), and Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity). Directed by Ben Affleck.
A bank teller (Hall) is abducted by a group of thieves after a hit on her bank and then released. While dealing with her trauma she is befriended by a man (Affleck) whose life is entrenched in Boston’s criminal underworld. The trailer below unfortunately contains a single shot that spoils an important element of the story. However, while I have yet to see it, Affleck previously garnered great praise for his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone. The Town looks to further that reputation and solidify Affleck as a respectable director with a crime drama on par with The Departed.
Buried – Starring Ryan Reynolds, Samantha Mathis (The Thing Called Love), and Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day). Directed by Rodrigo Cortes (The Contestant).
A U.S. contractor working in Iraq is attacked by Iraqis and wakes up in a box buried under ground with only a lighter and a cell phone. This is a great example of an actor and director working together to make a great story with very little. Buried debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and was immediately piled upon with praise. This is Reynolds’s chance to prove to skeptics that he has the goods as the entire movie rests on his performance.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole – Starring Hugo Weaving (The Matrix), Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe), Abbie Cornish (Bright Star), Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge), Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, and Helen Mirren. Directed by Zack Snyder (Watchmen). Based on the Guardians of Ga’Hoole novels, this CG-animated film has a trailer that looked stunning in 3D. It’s also a first for Snyder, whose previous work is exclusively violent, stylized live-action genre films for adults. It features a great cast of English and Australian actors and spectacular use of 3D imagery. If the story is just as impressive, we may have another great animated film before the end of the year.
Let Me In – Starring Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass), Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road), Richard Jenkins (Burn After Reading), and Elias Koteas (The Fourth Kind). Directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield).
In 2007, the Swedish film Let the Right One In was a world-wide success and was immediately placed on many best-of lists. When news hit that a Hollywood studio wanted to share this great story by remaking it, fans broke out their torches and pitch-forks – and with good reason as I Think I Love My Wife, Bangkok Dangerous, and Dinner for Schmucks (to sample just a handful out of dozens) have proven that most of these projects result in poor variations of what made the originals great. However, Matt Reeves has spoken with high regard for the story, claiming his will be a dark and scary film. Moretz seems to concur, explaining her take on vampirism as an alternate personality that takes over her, a devil inside. Producer Simon Oakes is even more promising, stating it isn’t a re-imagining as much as a faithful remake with the same ambiguities and unwillingness to spoon-feed the audience. Though there are reports of at least one scene that’s completely different from the original all of this faithfulness might bring one to question why is something that appears to be a carbon copy necessary to make? Oakes says it’s because the story should be experienced by everyone and not everybody will see the foreign original. Whatever the case, audiences and fans will just have to reserve judgment until the film releases in October.
The Social Network – Starring Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland), Andrew Garfield (Never Let Me Go), Rooney Mara (upcoming The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo remake), Rashida Jones (I Love You Man), Joseph Mazzello (Jurassic Park), and Justin Timberlake. Directed by David Fincher (Fight Club).
A movie about the creation of Facebook might sound a little ridiculous, but not when it’s directed by Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing). In fact, Facebook itself feels the film is not the kind of advertising their looking for and refuses to promote the film. It’s no wonder, since it depicts founder Mark Zuckerberg as a double-crossing college boy who just wants to be in the right social circles and make money along the way. The idea of creating a web site all about staying connected to friends while alienating and pissing people off while doing so is much more intriguing than one would expect from a movie about a popular web site. Indeed, this controversial and timely film has been getting overwhelmingly positive buzz and is even receiving Oscar talk.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist. Directed by Daniel Alfredson.
The third film in the Millenium trilogy based on the famous Swedish mystery novels. Anybody who’s seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is most likely looking forward to this film (The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second in the trilogy, comes out on DVD in October). Everybody else is left in the dark, mainly due to xenophobic attitudes toward English subtitles. If this sounds familiar, it should; Let the Right One In faced the same issue and both are being remade (David Fincher will direct the Dragon Tattoo remake). But nobody should have to wait that long to discover the fate of Lisbeth Salander, really.
Monsters – Starring Scoot McNairy (Cop Out) and Whitney Able (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane). Directed by Gareth Edwards (debut).
Two people try to survive the arrival of a monstrous alien as it rampages through their region. On paper this sounds like Cloverfield all over again, minus the first-person perspective. But watch the trailer below and it’s clear Monsters is a completely different experience, one closer to last year's District 9. One question: will this just be an effects-heavy monster movie or will the two leads provide some character work amidst the chaos?
127 Hours – Starring James Franco, Amber Tamblyn (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), Lizzy Caplan (Party Down), and Treat Williams (Everwood). Directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire).
Boyle returns with a true story about Aron Ralston, a mountain climber whose arm became trapped under a boulder and had to be amputated with a pocket knife in order to survive. The premise alone may be enough to turn off many, but with James Franco as the lead and Boyle’s ability to treat characters with great humanity and tension, no matter the situation, 127 Hours is sure to be a fine dramatic piece for the season.
Fair Game – Starring Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, and Sam Shepherd (Brothers). Directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity).
Nothing says gravitas like Sean Penn in a political drama. Watts plays real-life CIA agent Valerie Plame, whom the White House outted in order to discredit her husband, who wrote an article in the New York Times claiming the Bush administration manipulated intelligence during the search for W.M.D.s in Iraq. Liman is primarily an action movie director, so it should be interesting to see how he handles a serious drama. Don’t be surprised to see Watts and Penn mentioned during the awards season for this film.
Skyline – Starring Donald Faison (Scrubs) and Brittany Daniel (Joe Dirt). Directed by The Brothers Strause (Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem).
The trailer to this season’s other alien invasion film looks cool, but so did the one for AVP: Requiem and that didn’t go very well. Is this another AVP-like experience or the new Independence Day? We shall see.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 – Starring newcomers to the franchise Bill Nighy (Love Actually), Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill), and John Hurt (Hellboy). Directed again by David Yates (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince).
The beginning of the end. Voldemort has control over the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. Our three heroic teenage wizards are cast out of their beloved school. What will happen when the saga finally nears its close? Just don't fall for the 3D marketing, as this is also one of those lousy post-conversion jobs.
Burlesque – Starring Christina Aguilera, Cher, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Alan Cumming, Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy), Peter Gallagher (American Beauty), and Julianne Hough (Dancing with the Stars). Directed by Steven Antin (debut).
This year’s musical is about a small-town girl who moves to a big city and finds success in a burlesque club. Not exactly original material, but this flashy musical with shades of Chicago is Aguilera’s debut and Cher’s first film in roughly ten years. The question is can the cast, especially Aguilera on which the film seems to rest, give us great performances along with the dazzling numbers or will this be like last year’s debacle, Nine, which lazily trotted out one performance after another?
Black Swan – Starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, Vincent Cassel (Eastern Promises), and Barbara Hershey (Falling Down). Directed by Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler).
This will probably be the most intellectual and artsy film of the season. Aronofsky seems to be going back to his more ambiguous, less mainstream style of storytelling in this thriller about the relationship between a ballet dancer and her rival, who may not exist at all. Mila Kunis is proving herself to be one of the few cast members of That ‘70s Show to transition to a successful film career, but this is one of her only dramatic roles and the first at this level of gravitas, making her performance worth seeing as much as Portman’s.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – Starring Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, and Simon Pegg. Directed by Michael Apted (The World is not Enough).
This is probably the one effects-heavy film people are least aware of. The series that was green-lit upon the coattails of The Lord of the Rings has fallen. Can it rise again this December? Disney dropped the Narnia franchise after Prince Caspian underperformed. Fox 2000 and Walden Media picked up the pieces eventually. So how does one put the spark back in the franchise adapted from the classic literary series? By hiring the director that brought you the acclaimed Up documentary series, dramatic features like Gorillas in the Mist and Nell, as well as one of the worst James Bond films in recent memory, of course! Wait – huh? Furthermore, while a trailer for the film can be found online, the studio has ceased any embedding to other sites.
TRON: Legacy – Starring Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner (TRON), Garret Hedlund (Eragon), Olivia Wilde (Turistas), Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon), and Beau Garrett (Turistas). Directed by Joseph Kosinski (debut).
Clearly the movie event of the season, particularly for non-Potter fans and the 35+ crowd. Disney has been trying for years to get a TRON sequel for the Digital Age off the ground (at one time the project was known as TRON 2.0). Here we have, during its final weeks, the year’s biggest special effects spectacle. The marketing and trailers are certainly selling this as not-your-childhood’s-TRON with cooler effects and action and a less-cheesy story. Once concern: will the young Bridges character break the film?
And that’s the fall season, folks! Of course, that isn’t all the films we have coming upon us. There are many more that I just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) focus on here such as Saw VII, Paranormal Activity 2, Tangled, and Yogi Bear. What are you looking forward to this fall? Vote on the poll to the right! Are there other films you’re interested in that deserve mention? Leave a comment below.