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Fall is here! That means football and Halloween and apple cider and sweaters and all that good stuff. It also means the summer movie season of blockbuster after blockbuster is over and we're into some more diverse fare. We've got a lot of movies vying for awards attention (IDES OF MARCH, MONEYBALL) and some movies just vying for a couple of your bucks (REAL STEEL, THE THREE MUSKETEERS). How can you filter through all the upcoming movies to decide what's worth your while? We put together a handy-dandy fall preview to sort through the morass. When you're done make sure to Strike Back with the fall movies you're most looking forward to!
WHAT'S THE DEAL? "Contagion" follows the rapid progress of a lethal airborne virus that kills within days. As the fast-moving epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself. At the same time, ordinary people struggle to survive in a society coming apart.
OUR TAKE Without director Steven Soderbergh, we'd be less than enthused about another "lethal outbreak" movie. But with Soderbergh and his A-list cast involved, we've got the fever for the flavor.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? An ex-Marine haunted by a tragic past, Tommy Riordan returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh and enlists his father, a recovered alcoholic and his former coach, to train him for an MMA tournament. As Tommy blazes a violent path towards the title prize, his brother, Brendan, a former MMA fighter unable to make ends meet as a public school teacher, returns to the amateur ring to provide for his family. But when Brendan’s unlikely rise as an underdog sets him on a collision course with Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront the forces that tore them apart, all the while waging the most intense, winner-takes-all battle of their lives.
OUR TAKE Not fair, cause we've already seen this one. And we said it was one of the best films of the year.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? STRAW DOGS tells the story of David and Amy Sumner (Marsden and Bosworth) a Hollywood screenwriter and his actress wife who return to her small hometown in the deep South to prepare the family home for sale after her father’s death. Once there, tensions build in their marriage and old conflicts re-emerge with the locals, including Amy’s ex-boyfriend Charlie (Skarsgård), leading to a violent confrontation.
OUR TAKE As is usually the case with remakes, it's hard to hold a candle to the original and we can't see Rod Lurie's take matching up well against Sam Peckinpah's cult classic. But we're a sucker for James Marsden
WHAT'S THE DEAL? DRIVE is the story of a Hollywood stunt driver by day (Ryan Gosling), a loner by nature, who moonlights as a top-notch getaway driver-for-hire in the criminal underworld. He finds himself a target for some of LA's most dangerous men after agreeing to aid the husband of his beautiful neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan). When the job goes dangerously awry, the only way he can keep Irene and her son alive is to do what he does best--Drive!
OUR TAKE Another film we at JoBlo.com headquarters have had the pleasure of seeing early and, sure enough, this one's a must see. If this is what a Nicolas Winding-Refn/Ryan Gosling collaboration looks like, we'll even be down for that unfortunate LOGAN'S RUN remake.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s and the guy who assembles the team, who has an epiphany: all of baseball’s conventional wisdom is wrong. Forced to reinvent his team on a tight budget, Beane will have to outsmart the richer clubs. The onetime jock teams with Ivy League grad Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) in an unlikely partnership, recruiting bargain players that the scouts call flawed, but all of whom have an ability to get on base, score runs, and win games. It's more than baseball, it’s a revolution – one that challenges old school traditions and puts Beane in the crosshairs of those who say he’s tearing out the heart and soul of the game.
OUR TAKE While MONEYBALL had a rough time getting made (Steven Soderbergh was fired just two months before filming was scheduled to begin), it's finally here and looking like another Oscar-contender. Early buzz has it that Brad Pitt could get his first-ever Best Actor win and even Jonah Hill is getting Best Supporting Actor buzz for his dramatic work.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? An ex-special ops agent is lured out of retirement to rescue his mentor. To make the rescue, he must complete a near-impossible mission of killing three tough-as-nails assassins with a cunning leader.
OUR TAKE As fascinating as watching Jason Statham kick ass alongside Robert De Niro sounds, there's something about this that's holding us back. Is it that neither Statham nor De Niro hasn't made an enjoyable film in a few years? Yeah, that's a good start...
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Ally Darling (Anna Faris) panics after reading a magazine article that insists if you’ve slept with 20 people, you’ve missed Mr. Right. Her hunky new neighbor (Chris Evans) helps Ally track down her exes, while she helps him escape his!
OUR TAKE With a cast as funny as this one - Anna Faris, Andy Samberg, Aziz Ansari, Chris Pratt, Thomas Lennon - you'd think I'd be more interested to check this out. But while this might strive for the R-rated laughs of BRIDESMAIDS, I'd prepare for something a little more generic.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Some say that all houses have memories. For one man, his home is the place he would kill to forget. Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts star in Dream House, a suspense thriller about a family that unknowingly moves into a home where several grisly murders were committed...only to find themselves the killer's next target.
OUR TAKE It may be the movie that introduced lovebirds Craig and Weisz to each other (now married as a result) and that may be good for the tabloids, it's not doing much for us otherwise. How did such talented actors get mixed up in a haunted house story that was plagued by script issues and multiple reshoots?
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen star as best friends whose lives are changed by a cancer diagnosis. 50/50 is the story of a guy’s transformative and, yes, sometimes funny journey to health. 50/50 draws its emotional core from Will Reiser’s own experience with cancer and reminds us that friendship and love, no matter what bizarre turns they take, are the greatest healers.
OUR TAKE Another movie we've seen and it's a doozy. While there are definitely some laughs to be had, as the commercials would indicate, there's also a serious emotional uppercut. It's like TERMS OF ENDEARMENT for dudes.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? A gritty, white-knuckle, action ride set in the near-future where the sport of boxing has gone high-tech, REAL STEEL stars Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton, a washed-up fighter who lost his chance at a title when 2000-pound, 8-foot-tall steel robots took over the ring. Now nothing but a small-time promoter, Charlie earns just enough money piecing together low-end bots from scrap metal to get from one underground boxing venue to the next. When Charlie hits rock bottom, he reluctantly teams up with his estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) to build and train a championship contender. As the stakes in the brutal, no-holds-barred arena are raised, Charlie and Max, against all odds, get one last shot at a comeback.
OUR TAKE Oh dear God no. Please make it stop.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? An idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail. Based on the play by Beau Willimon.
OUR TAKE Political dramas are not usually our wheelhouse and, to be honest, the buzz out of the Venice Film Festival, where the film premiered, didn't exactly help matters. We're excited for George Clooney and Ryan Gosling movies this fall but this ain't it.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Like THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE but about 100x more gross (duh).
OUR TAKE What can you say about a film like this? You're looking forward to it? That's a weird thing to say. Like you're looking forward to getting a tooth extracted. It'll be bloody and painful and you'll struggle to get through it but in the end you'll be dazed and drooling. We're on a crash course to see the film premiere at Fantastic Fest so, like it or not, we're tightening up our bootstraps and seeing how much worse it can get.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Antarctica: an extraordinary continent of awesome beauty. It is also home to an isolated outpost where a discovery full of scientific possibility becomes a mission of survival when an alien is unearthed by a crew of international scientists. The shape-shifting creature, accidentally unleashed at this marooned colony, has the ability to turn itself into a perfect replica of any living being. It can look just like you or me, but inside, it remains inhuman. In the thriller The Thing, paranoia spreads like an epidemic among a group of researchers as they're infected, one by one, by a mystery from another planet.
OUR TAKE Conventional wisdom has it that this film is unnecessary and an insult to John Carpenter's classic. But if you'll remember (or if you use the interwebs to look back), Carpenter's THE THING wasn't exactly beloved when it came out. I'm willing to approach this with some cautious enthusiasm.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Ren MacCormack (played by newcomer Kenny Wormald) is transplanted from Boston to the small southern town of Bomont where he experiences a heavy dose of culture shock. A few years prior, the community was rocked by a tragic accident that killed five teenagers after a night out and Bomont's local councilmen and the beloved Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) responded by implementing ordinances that prohibit loud music and dancing. Not one to bow to the status quo, Ren challenges the ban, revitalizing the town and falling in love with the minister's troubled daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough) in the process.
OUR TAKE This would not appear to be relevant to our interests (the concept of a town that outlawed dancing and the teen rebel who fought back seemed so believable in the 80s but now?...) but the participation of Craig Brewer (HUSTLE & FLOW, BLACK SNAKE MOAN) as director has us wondering if we're underrating this. Could it be a welcome surprise? (Probably not, but still...)
WHAT'S THE DEAL? The hot-headed young D'Artagnan along with three former legendary but now down on their luck Musketeers must unite and defeat a beautiful double agent and her villainous employer from seizing the French throne and engulfing Europe in war. In 3D.
OUR TAKE Filming before the Giant 3D Backlash of 2011, THE THREE MUSKETEERS raced to begin filming to beat out a competing "Three Musketeers" movie and shot its version in 3D. That was probably a great idea at the time but now it all just looks a little silly.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? The third installment of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY horror franchise.
OUR TAKE Say what you will about the PARANORMAL franchise (and we've said our fair share), that screencap above creeps me the f*ck out. This found-footage prequel takes us back to when Katie was a kid to examine how exactly the boogeyman came to find her family. If the whole movie is like that one photo count us down (and out).
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Paul Kemp (Depp) is a freelance journalist who finds himself at a critical turning point in his life while writing for a run-down newspaper in the Caribbean. Paul is challenged on many levels as he tries to carve out a more secure niche for himself amidst a group of lost souls all bent on self-destruction.
OUR TAKE A quasi-prequel to FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, Johnny Depp has long worked to get THE RUM DIARY before cameras. A version with Benicio Del Toro and Josh Hartnett was close to happening but never quite made it. Will this version, which highlights Hunter S. Thompson's early years, be worth the wait? Hey, at least it's not another PIRATES movie...
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Welcome to a world where time has become the ultimate currency. You stop aging at 25, but there's a catch: you're genetically-engineered to live only one more year, unless you can buy your way out of it. The rich "earn" decades at a time (remaining at age 25), becoming essentially immortal, while the rest beg, borrow or steal enough hours to make it through the day. When a man from the wrong side of the tracks is falsely accused of murder, he is forced to go on the run with a beautiful hostage. Living minute to minute, the duo's love becomes a powerful tool in their war against the system.
OUR TAKE Andrew Niccol is the writer/director behind one of the most underrated sci-fi films of the past 20 years (GATTACA) so you'd think I'd be more excited about IN TIME. But the success of this film lies not with Niccol but instead with star Justin Timberlake. He's been mostly OK in supporting roles, but will he pass muster as an action lead? If he can pull it off, this could be a welcome surprise. If not?
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Queens native Josh Kovacs (Stiller) has managed one of the most luxurious and well-secured residences in New York City for more than a decade. Under his watchful eye, nothing goes undetected. In the swankiest unit atop Josh’s building, Wall Street titan Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) is under house arrest after being caught stealing two billion from his investors. The hardest hit among those he defrauded? The tower staffers whose pensions he was entrusted to manage. With only days before Arthur gets away with the perfect crime, Josh’s crew turns to petty crook Slide (Murphy) to plan the nearly impossible…to steal what they are sure is hidden in Arthur’s guarded condo.
OUR TAKE A comedic OCEAN'S 11, the film, directed by Brett Ratner, boasts an impressive cast that includes comedy A-listers Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, plus Matthew Broderick, Gabourey Sidibe, Casey Affleck and Alan Alda. But comedy all-star teams don't always work (see: DATE NIGHT) especially when the director is not known for making funny comedies (see: DATE NIGHT). But still, when Eddie Murphy brings it, he brings it and this could be the one funny film he makes every five years.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Eons after the Gods won their mythic struggle against the Titans, a new evil threatens the land. Mad with power, King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) has declared war against humanity. They remain powerless to stop Hyperion...until a peasant named Theseus (Henry Cavill) comes forth as their only hope.
OUR TAKE I know many have attacked director Tarsem Singh for being all sizzle and no steak, but if there's a world where his lush visuals could work, it's the world of Greek myths. It all looks a little 300-lite but in a year when we had about 10 superhero movies, can we really complain about another mythological movie?