The Fall 2012 Movie Preview

The Lion King ruled last September
Would You Bet Against Nemo Doing It This Year?

Labor Day weekend is here and so comes the inevitable transition from Summer Movie Season to Fall Movie Season. That means no more superhero movies with budgets north of $200 million. No more Michael Bay-esque action flicks that toss plot aside for the sake of special effects. No more 80’s remakes (unless they are remaking horror movies). No more XYZ 2 or ABC 3 kid’s movies. Sure, hollywood will still trot out a would be blockbuster here and there between September and November (a lot of them in November actually), but not three or four a week. Fall is more a time for drama blockbusters, for Oscar hopefuls, for horror series that are more popular than you think and for the occasional cult classics. In fact, each month has a few of each of those categories, and here is a preview of them.

September

As a rule September is one of the weaker months of the movie year. This September is not the exception that proves the rule. There are some good movies, but they all have risk and we are probably as likely to have a month of duds as we are to have a handful of successes. In the end this September is going to be about answering the following questions:

Did Clint Eastwood hurt his career at the RNC last week? Will Bruce Willis win the month or can Amy Adams steal it? Is the Adam Sandler/Andy Sandberg pairing destined for a second major flop in less than 3 months? What will the Scientologists do to Paul Thomas Anderson? Are Jake Gyllenhaal and Jennifer Lawrence real movie stars? And, will families ever tire of re-releasing our favorites in 3D?

The Would Be Blockbusters:

If you had to put money on which movie would be the biggest box office hit of September 2012 wouldn’t you go with Finding Nemo 3D (opening September 14th)? Disney has already had a fair amount of success doing this 3D re-release trick with some of their animated classics from the 90’s (Lion King 3D was last September’s #1 movie) now comes the same treatment for possibly the most beloved family film of the last decade (take it easy Shrek fans, I said possibly). Can’t see how it wont be big.

If Nemo isn’t the answer Adam Sandler sure hopes Hotel Transylvania (opening September 28th) will draw families in. His pairing with Andy Sandberg looked perfect on paper but That’s My Boy made everyone question if Hot Rod and Happy Madison could really coexist on screen. Hotel Transylvania is their second chance in 3 months to prove they match up well together.

The Drama Blockbusters:

Warner Brothers has sure bought into the potential success of Trouble With The Curve (opening September 28th). With Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, it has the star power to prove WB right, and a baseball movie about family always seems to resonate.

On September 21st two of hollywood’s would be stars get a chance to show how much of a draw they really are when Jake Gyllenhaal’s End of Watch (opening September 21st) and Jennifer Lawrence’s House at the End of the Street (opening September 21st) remake hit theaters. Here’s a look at Katniss Everdeen in a very different role:

The Oscar Hopefuls:

Paul Thomas Anderson, the guy who brought us Boogie Nights and Magnolia (both pure genius, by the way), has made what is sure to be one of the most interesting movies of the year. The Master (opening September 14th) is his fictional take on the birth of Scientology. Of course, they aren’t calling it that, claiming it is only loosely inspired by L. Ron Hubbard, but that wont stop people writing about it. Look for The Master and its three stars (Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix) to get a lot of Oscar buzz and be critical darlings. Also, expect The Master and its leads to get snubbed during awards season because that is what always happens to Paul Thomas Anderson movies.

The Horror Series That Are Bigger Than You Realize:

For a select group of people September is all about Alice, the Umbrella Corporation and the “T” virus. Each of the last three Resident Evil movies have opened in mid September and they have all had opening weekends in the $25 million range. That’s really good considering that Resident Evil (much like Underworld) makes its mark in the secondary market, where all of the films in the franchise become staples on Premium Cable and then Basic Cable. Look for Resident Evil: Afterlife (opening September 14th) to keep the trend alive. Here’s the trailer for Alice’s newest adventure:

[Rec] is a horror franchise that has been steadily growing outside the US and has been gaining steam here on DVD and Cable. Now comes [Rec]3: Genesis (opening September 7th), the series first effort at wide distribution in US theaters. If the history of Fall movie season teaches us nothing else it should teach us to never underestimate the power of a horror franchise.

The Cult Classics:

I could probably write 5,000 words on how awesome Brick is (if you haven’t seen it go to Netflix streaming RIGHT NOW and watch it). Rian Johnson and Joseph Gordon Levitt finally team up again for Looper (opening September 28th), a noir, time travel movie that is sure to confuse some and have others writing 5,000 words years later about how awesome it is.

It really is too bad that most people only know Judge Dredd from Stallone’s really bad movie in the 90’s. Dredd is dark and violent and unforgiving in the comics, and he NEVER takes his helmet off. The trailers for Dredd 3D (opening September 21st) look like they got everything right. I don’t even care that they stole plot points from Raid: Redemption because Raid: Redemption is the best action movie of the year, by far (Raid: Redemption is available on most VOD formats now, so go rent it and be ready to be blown away).


October

Hooray! People have gotten back into their routines and now they are willing to go to the movies again. To that end October brings us more movies with more potential than September (or really August for that matter). This October is filled with a big time director’s passion project (Tim Burton), Liam Neeson killing a bunch of gangsters, Ben Affleck proving again that he is a far better director than he is an actor, a whole bunch of really bloody horror movies, Tyler Perry trying to prove that he appeals to more than just an African-American audience, and a whole lot more.

The Blockbusters:

“Kim, listen to me, your mother and I are going to be taken.” What?! How?! Of course Liam Neeson obviously isn’t “taken” for long since he has to go around Istanbul killing a whole mess of Armenian gangsters in Taken 2 (opening October 5th). The first Taken did almost $150 million at the box office in 2009, expect more of the same (in every way) from the sequel. Don’t believe me, check out the trailer:

Tim Burton has been referencing Frankenweenie (opening October 5th) since he did Pee Wee’s Big Adventure in the mid 80’s. It is finally here. It will be interesting to see if it is one of those kid’s movies that is a little too weird for most kids (The Nightmare Before Christmas had that problem as did Coraline).

Kevin James gets to do some MMA fighting as a high school teacher in Here Comes The Boom (opening October 12th), his latest movie from Adam Sandler’s production company. Paul Blart surprised, Zookeeper underperformed, we’ll have to wait and see if that is a trend or if Kevin James is simply stronger when he isn’t competing with summer fare.

No matter what you thought of Kiss The Girls and Along Came a Spider (Kiss the Girls was better, but neither were bad) Morgan Freeman seemed perfect as Alex Cross, best selling author, profiler, psychiatrist and cop. Freeman was so good that it is hard to imagine Tyler Perry being able to fill those shoes. Of course, if he can’t he can still make billions making Madea and Why Did I Get Married movies, so what does he care. Still, in the simply titled Alex Cross (opening October 19th) Perry will get his chance to win over everybody and Matthew Fox gets to do some of his own MMA stuff (probably more convincingly than Kevin James).

The Drama Blockbusters:

You could argue that I could have put Cloud Atlas (opening October 26th) in the “Blockbusters” category, the “Oscar Hopefuls” category or the “Cult Classics” category. Truth is it could also go into a “potentially massive bomb” category. The Wachowski siblings along with Tom Tykwer (director of the awesome Run Lola Run) have adapted David Mitchell’s novel about the interconnectivity of space, time and man and turned it into the trippiest looking movie in years (just check out the 6 minute trailer below). A star studded cast including Tom Hanks and Halle Berry (playing at least three roles each), Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant (as a killer) and Susan Sarandon (as a man) and unbeatable visuals (as you would expect) should make for a lot of sampling in its first weekend. After that it will be a question of if the weird outweighs the insightful I suspect.

Chasing Mavericks (opening October 26th), along with Playing For Keeps in December, is the latest push to see if Gerard Butler is a leading man when he’s not playing a Spartan. Here Butler gets to play a surfer who helps teach a troubled teen how to surf giant waves. Before you roll your eyes too many times know this is going for Soul Surfer story with Blue Crush visuals. If they can do that they will have a hit.

The Oscar Hopefuls:

Argo (opening October 12th), Ben Affleck’s Drama/Thriller/Comedy about freeing American’s from Iran during the revolution 30 years ago premiered at the Telluride Film Festival this weekend and, as they say, twitter blew up. Everyone who saw it was going absolutely crazy with their praise. As of September 1st it is the unquestioned Best Movie favorite. With all the praise and the fact that it is not a hard movie to watch it will likely be a hit too.

The Horror Series That Are Bigger Than You Realize:

Horror, horror and more horror. Paranormal Activity 4 (opening October 19th) is followed by Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (opening October 26th) and both are preceded by V/H/S (opening October 5th) which isn’t a series (yet) but definitely fits this mold. Happy Halloween.

The Cult Classics:

Killing Them Softly (opening October 19th) and Seven Psychopaths (opening October 12th) have a lot in common. They are both directorial follow ups to movies that are already cult classics — Killing Them Softly is the follow up to The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Seven Psychopaths is the follow up to the great In Bruges (I don’t need to keep telling you to go see these past movies I am referencing, do I?). They each share the star of their predecessor (Brad Pitt for Killing Them Softly and Collin Ferrel for Seven Psychopaths) but have added a few more big names (Woody Harrelson, Ray Liotta, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, etc.). And, most importantly, they both look great.

November

Ah, November, the most summer-y of the non summer months. Nearly all of the things I said didn’t exist in the fall exist in November. Maybe not in the same volume as they do in June, but they are here nonetheless. More importantly, when it comes to discussing this November we all must realize that this is truly a time to give thanks. We must give thanks that this November marks the end of the tyranny of sparkly vampires and baby-loving werewolves. May we never face their like again.

The Nightmare is over

The Blockbusters:

Twilight … (who cares what the whole name is, really? It’s opening November 16th) will shatter all kinds of midnight viewing records and have the biggest November opening of all time, not counting other Twilight movies (is it just me, or does this feel like a ship that more and more people are abandoning? Maybe that is just wishful thinking). It will fall dramatically in its second week and be almost completely gone by week three. And it will still be one of the five biggest movies of the year.

What is Skyfall (opening November 9th)? Who knows? The only thing that is important is that we get to see Daniel Craig’s really pissed off James Bond go around and kick some ass again and hopefully seduce some number of good looking women who then either die, help him save the day or try to stab him in the back.

Wreck It Ralph (opening November 2nd) has one of the best trailers of the year. If you don’t believe me plop an 5 to 10 year old boy in front of the computer and have them watch this:

Now do you see what I mean? For it’s core audience this trailer is a home run. Here’s hoping the actual movie can live up to it.

By the time Wreck It Ralph has been seen by everyone who wants to see it Rise of the Guardians (opening November 23rd) will swoop in and get them all too excited for Christmas. Like Wreck it Ralph this is one of those concepts that makes you slap your head and say “I can’t believe no one thought of doing this before”.

The Drama Blockbusters:

Never bet against Denzel Washington at the box office. He may not have any HUGE hits on his resume of late, but all he has are movies that do well. Flight (opening November 2nd) will be no exception.

Silver Linings Playbook (opening November 23rd) is David O. Russell’s follow up to The Fighter. It got some press when Russell decided not to go with long time favorite leading man (and reportedly good friend) Mark Wahlberg and instead pegged Bradley Cooper to star opposite Jennifer Lawrence. Wahlberg got mad, Russell stuck to his guns and now they aren’t friends anymore. None of which matters much, what will be interesting to see is if Russell can make mental illness funny while still keeping it honest and real. That may not seem that hard but as one who suffers from mental disease I can tell you One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is the only movie to ever pull that feat off.

The Oscar Hopefuls:

You know how every year there’s at least one (often more) movie that feels like it was made with the sole intent of winning Academy Awards? This year that movie is Lincoln (opening November 9th). Don’t get me wrong, Lincoln is a fascinating character and some of the biography’s that have been written about him are brilliant, but everything about this movie screams Oscars.

Joe Wright has teamed with Keira Knightley twice before and brought home multiple Oscar nominations each time (Pride & Prejudice and Atonement). Their newest collaboration, Anna Karenina (opening November 16th),  has a chance to top both of them. Why? Well, it’s based on Tolstoy’s near flawless novel, and the screenplay was adapted by Tom Stoppard.

The Horror Series That Are Bigger Than You Realize:

Fortunately, if you aren’t a fan of horror, November isn’t filled with cinematic spectacles of death the way October almost always is, but they are releasing the sister movie to V/H/S (see October) called The ABC’s of Death (opening November 2nd). Gory, disturbing, everything this audience wants.

The Cult Classics:

After Django Unchained the movie I think I am most looking forward to seeing this year is The Man with the Iron Fist (opening November 2nd). RZA, he of Wu Tang Clan fame, has directed a hip-hop flavored ancient China, kung fu fight-fest that looks like it is embracing what it is and having all sorts of fun with what it is doing. I love the cheesy Hong Kong cinema classics that this movie is paying homage too and I can’t wait to see all of this silliness unfold on the big screen.

Life of Pi (opening November 23rd) is Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel about an Indian boy lost at sea with a tiger. Yup, a movie about a boy and a tiger stuck on a life boat. It is either going to be great or unwatchable, there is no in between.

Conclusion

So, there you have, three months culminating with a boy and a tiger. You would never write that sentence when doing a summer movie preview, and that is the difference between Fall and Summer.

But hey, what do I know? I’m fat. And here’s the Life of Pi trailer as a special treat: