Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2 – The Films Of October

Screen Shot 2012 08 29 at 9.32.01 PM 670x323 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October

Having wrapped up our Summer 2012 film coverage with the End of Summer Movie Awards a few days ago, it is time to look forward to Fall and the rest of what 2012 has in store. This has been an extremely enjoyable year for cinema so far, but when one looks at the absolute mountain of titles the industry has coming over the next few months, one has to imagine studios have been saving the best for last.

There are so many films coming out through the end of the year, in fact, that we thought it would be a good idea to put together this handy, four-part guide to the films of the Fall. This preview, publishing throughout the week, is divided into four parts, each exploring one remaining month of the year.

Yesterday we took a look at September, and today, in Part 2, we examine the films of October, with a guide to release dates, casts, story information, trailers, and my analysis of how each individual movie may stack up.

Read our Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2 beginning on the next page…

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Taken 2

Release Date: October 5th

Directed by Olivier Megaton; Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, and Rade Šerbedžija

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Sequels to action films as relatively straightforward as 2008’s Taken tend to be cheap cash-ins and narrative retreads of old ground, but Taken 2 appears to be something different. Something clever, ambitious, and altogether intriguing. I really like the core concept, that Liam Neeson’s rampage from the first film comes back to bite him in the ass as Šerbedžija’s character seeks revenge for fallen comrades.

Action heroes so rarely need to confront the death tolls they inflict, so it’s a refreshing change of pace. The trailer also shows Maggie Grace getting in on the action this time around, along with plenty of requisite Neeson badassary. It’s one of the better, clearer pieces of marketing I’ve seen this year, one that definitely gets me pumped for a sequel I never necessarily thought I’d need. 

Frankenweenie

Release Date: October 5th

Directed by Tim Burton; Starring Charlie Tahan, Frank Welker, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, and Martin Landau

frankenweenie movie by tim burton Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October 

With the exception of Sweeney Todd, Tim Burton hasn’t been on top of his game in a decade, and while I hope for the best, I don’t know if Frankenweenie will be his resurgence. This stop-motion film is based on Burton’s classic 1984 live-action short about a boy who resurrects his dead dog, and while the short is one of the highlights of Burton’s entire career, he’s a very different filmmaker now than he was back then.

Will he be able to recapture the charm and emotional depth he nailed so many years ago? Is there any point in trying? Can the story work stretched out to feature-length format? I simply don’t know, and the trailers have been far too bland to give any sort of indication as to the film’s actual direction. I very much like that Burton is shooting in black-and-white, and stop-motion obviously fits the story well, but unless Burton has something radically fresh and insightful to say with the material, the remake may not be worth the effort.

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Sinister

Release Date: October 5th

Directed by Scott Derrickson; Starring Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, and James Ransone

Sinister Ethan Hawke Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October 

I am not an avid horror follower, but Sinister intrigues me. It appears to be a clever twist on the obnoxious found footage horror trend of recent years, where the main character (Hawke) finds and studies video diaries of serial murders in his attic. That alone sounds interesting, and combined with a very strong trailer and great reaction out of its South by Southwest premiere, I think Sinister could be a nice surprise. It’s been a while since I enjoyed a new horror movie, so here’s hoping Sinister breaks the trend.

Pitch Perfect

Release Date: October 5th

Directed by Jason Moore; Starring Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse

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I have no idea whether or not this film has a shot at being good, especially after watching the erratic trailer. But Anna Kendrick is one of my absolute favorite young actresses, and I will watch her in just about anything, especially when she has a starring role. I trust her earnest energy will do the project wonders, given that it is, in fact, the tale of a super-competitive college a-capella group.

That could be a comedically resonant premise, though I may be biased, as I sang in one of these groups in High School and may one day have to work out the deep-seated psychological trauma by writing a scathing sitcom on the subject. Until I reach my breaking point, however, Pitch Perfect will have to suffice, and I hope its observations on a-capella nonsense are smart and insightful, rather than lazy and surface-level as the trailer suggests.

Butter

Release Date: October 5th

Directed by Jim Field Smith; Starring Jennifer Garner, Ty Burrell, Olivia Wilde, Rob Corddry, Ashley Greene, Alicia Silverstone, Hugh Jackman, and Yara Shahidi

Butter Film 5 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October 

Here’s the lone film on our Fall Movie Preview that I don’t have to speculate about, because I saw it almost a full year ago at the Starz Denver Film Festival. You can read my full review of the film here, but for now, let me just say that this will be the best comedy of 2012 so far, a fun and insightful political satire with a simple, down-to-earth message that is far from inflammatory.

Set in the competitive world of Iowa butter carving, the film pits competitive, entitled local activist Laura Picker (Garner) against Destiny (Shahidi), a young orphan girl interested only in discovering her talents. The film handles political allegory well, has plenty of sharp and hilarious writing, and features an immensely talented ensemble cast. Butter is definitely one to watch out for.

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Argo

Release Date: October 12th

Directed by Ben Affleck; Starring Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, Kyle Chandler and John Goodman

Ben Affleck Argo Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October 

Ben Affleck has proven to be an extremely talented director over these last few years, to the point where his name on a film automatically makes me excited. He’s also evolved into an extremely adept actor, and with Argo, has surrounded himself with a vast, tremendous ensemble (I’ve only written out about a quarter of the entire main cast list above).

The story here is an incredible one: In 1979, the United States and Canadian intelligence forces team up to save six US foreign service agents who evaded capture in an Iranian hostage crisis. To do this, they convince the Iranian government these men are actually part of a film crew, scouting locations for a fake movie called ‘Argo.’ How’s that for a ‘stranger-than-fiction’ true story? I cannot wait for this one and I have a feeling it’s going to be one of the best films of 2012. 

Seven Psychopaths

Release Date: October 12th

Directed by Martin McDonagh; Starring Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Gabourey Sibide, Tom Waits, and Christopher Walken

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Writer/Director Martin McDonagh’s last film, In Bruges, was one of my very favorite films of the 2000s, a wickedly funny and deeply poignant comedy/drama that is simply unlike anything else I have ever seen. So to say I am eager to see what Seven Psychopaths has in store would be an understatement, especially when everything I’ve heard so far sounds so insanely compelling.

The story is all over the map, involving a struggling screenwriter (Farrell), his gangster friends (Rockwell and Walken), a stolen shih tzu, the shih tzu’s violent, crazed owner (Harrelson), and other factors I don’t have any sort of grasp on yet. Throw in one of the most impressive casts of the year, and I have no reservations saying this is one of the most anticipated films of the year.

Here Comes the Boom

Release Date: October 12th

Directed by Frank Coraci; Starring Kevin James, Henry Winkler, and Salma Hayek

here comes the boom Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October 

Is it possible to like an actor and hate virtually everything he’s ever been associated with? That’s more or less my opinion of Kevin James, a performer I find perfectly amiable but whose films are, with the possible exception of Hitch, steaming piles of you-know-what. I have no idea if Here Comes the Boom will turn out well. If I am offered a press screening, I will check it out and give it a fair chance. But with Zookeeper director Frank Coraci at the helm, and a seemingly asinine story about James’ character becoming an MMA fighter to raise money for his struggling school, I don’t see how this will be any different than James’ other recent comedies. Perhaps there shall be fewer fat jokes, given James’ impressive weight loss? Only time will tell.

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Alex Cross

Release Date: October 19th

Directed by Rob Cohen; Starring Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Rachel Nichols, Jean Reno, and Giancarlo Esposito

alex cross tyler perry Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October 

Oh boy. Remember when this one had The Wire star Idris Elba attached to play the title role? And Pitch Black director David Twohy set to direct? Yeah, that movie sounded awesome. I literally could not wait to see it, especially given the wealth of material to work with in James Patterson’s novels. Then Twohy dropped out. And Elba dropped out. And some idiot at Summit Entertainment thought hack action director Rob Cohen and cross-dressing comedy star Tyler Perry would be suitable replacements. Sigh…

Alex Cross, as a character, has a lot of potential. And for all I know, Cohen and Tyler could very well make a quality film together. But their hiring just seems so wildly counterintuitive, especially given where this project started, that I can’t help but bury my head in my hands and wait for the seemingly inevitable disaster. 

Killing Them Softly

Release Date: October 19th

Directed by Andrew Dominik; Starring Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, and Ray Liotta

killing them softly 21 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October 

Another film that gets instant hype just for its pedigree: Assassination of Jesse James writer/director Andrew Dominik? Awesome. Brad Pitt playing a violent enforcer with a cool goatee? Double awesome. An incredible supporting cast featuring the likes of Jenkins, Gandolfini, and Liotta? Hell yeah! A title that reminds me of that awful love song all the choir girls at my high school were creepily obsessed with? Okay, less awesome, but when you hear Brad Pitt say “I like to kill ‘em softly” in the trailer, the title suddenly becomes cool again.

Reaction out of Cannes was very strong, and every piece of marketing since then has been downright awe-inspiring, so I see no reason not to treat this as one of the most important films to look out for this Fall. 

Paranormal Activity 4

Release Date: October 19th

Directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost; Starring Katie Featherston and Kathryn Newton

para4 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October 

What is there to say about this franchise at this point? You either love it or you don’t. I myself could not care less. I despise found footage projects to begin with, and found the first film especially tedious. Still, I have no problem with others liking these films, and have heard good things about the sequels. Hopefully this fourth film gives the fans a quality experience, and that Paranormal Activity doesn’t destroy itself quite as badly as the Saw franchise did by the end.

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Cloud Atlas

Release Date: October 26th

Directed by Lana & Andy Wachowski and Tom Twyker; Starring Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, James D’Arcy, Ben Winshaw, Susan Sarandon, and Keith David

 cloud atlas 2 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October

Cloud Atlas is a film I have consciously tried to learn as little about as possible. I feel like this could be a major comeback for the Wachowski siblings, given the enormity of the source material and possibility for awe-inspiring visuals and meaningful thematic content.

The synopsis describes Cloud Atlas as “an epic story of humankind in which the actions and consequences of our lives impact one another throughout the past, present and future as one soul is shaped from a murderer into a savior and a single act of kindness ripples out for centuries to inspire a revolution.”

If the film is as vast and impressive as it has the potential to be, I want to go in cold. I want Cloud Atlas to be a surprise, a revelation, an experience on par with seeing The Matrix for the first time. Can it possibly live up to such hype? We won’t know until October 26th.

The Sessions

Release Date: October 26th

Directed by Ben Lewin; Starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, Moon Bloodgood, and William H. Macy

The Sessions1 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October 

A critical favorite out of Sundance, Ben Lewin’s The Sessions tells the story of Mark O’Brien, a poet paralyzed from the neck down by polio who must spend most of his time in an iron lung. Mark decides he’d like to experience more out of life, and hires a ‘sexual surrogate’ (Hunt) to train him for lovemaking.

The film looks fantastic. I always appreciate ‘biopics’ that discuss a small slice of a person’s life, rather than attempting to dramatize the whole story, and by focusing on Mark’s late-in-life quest to lose his virginity, I think there’s more than enough narrative potential. But the real draw here is John Hawkes, whose physically transformative performance has him getting early Oscar buzz and mountains of praise from every viewer lucky enough to see the film. This is definitely one to mark on your calendars.

Fun Size

Release Date: October 26th

Directed by Josh Schwartz; Starring Victoria Justice, Jane Levy, Thomas McDonnell, Chelsea Handler, and Johnny Knoxville

Victoria Justice Jane Levy Fun Size Trailer Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October 

In a vacuum, the trailer for Fun Size does not look particularly interesting. A teen comedy about two female friends who lose a little brother while trying to attend a party, my initial impression is that this is unlikely to offer us anything the best modern teen flicks, like Superbad, Easy A, or Mean Girls, haven’t already delivered. But when I look at the names behind the film, my enthusiasm rises exponentially.

Jane Levy is a wonderful young actress; just look at her work on Suburgatory for evidence. Victoria Justice is a promising leading lady. And most importantly, director Josh Schwartz has earned my trust time and time again on TV, with credits like The O.C. and Chuck. Schwartz did not write the film, which is disappointing considering how crucial his distinctive dialogue is to his work, but if anyone can helm effective teen material, it’s him.

We’ll just have to wait and see on this one.

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The Big Wedding

Release Date: October 26th

Directed by Justin Zackham; Starring Robert DeNiro, Diane Keaton, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Susan Sarandon, and Robin Williams

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Looks like Robert DeNiro, one of history’s single greatest actors, is slumming it in the world of broad, pandering comedy. Again. At least he has some good company in Keaton, Sarandon, Williams … actually, no, just typing out all these great names makes me sad. Have you watched the trailer for The Big Wedding? I’m fairly sure we’ve seen this comedy several dozen times before. Or at least variations on it.

Dysfunctional family gets together. Laughs are had about their dysfunction. A crazy plan must be executed, which is ironic because the family is, you know, dysfunctional! Oy.

Look, I hope this one is good. I don’t want to see any of these actors star in yet another bad comedy. But the track record some of these people have, especially DeNiro, for choosing bad comedic vehicles is pretty much off the charts at this point, and nothing I’ve seen so far about The Big Wedding indicates this will be the one that reverses the trend. 

Silent Hill: Revelation

Release Date: October 26th

Directed by Michael J. Bassett; Starring Adelaide Clemens, Sean Bean, Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Malcolm McDowell

 SIlent Hill Revelation 00985 610x343 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October

Huh. So the first Silent Hill was successful enough to warrant a sequel? Odd.

Revelation looks like a completely different beast than the first movie, with a new production team and a largely new cast, and I actually find the trailer kind of intriguing. It’s got some terrific visuals, shows off plenty of interesting performers, and builds an effective atmosphere. I would be willing to check it out, even though this is one of many similar horror films coming out in a one-month period. Hopefully the film’s supernatural elements will allow it to stand out from the crowd.

Chasing Mavericks

Release Date: October 26th

Directed by Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted; Starring Jonny Weston, Gerard Butler, Levin Rambin, Elizabeth Shue, and Abigail Spencer

gerard butler chasing mavericks Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 2   The Films Of October

Gerard Butler plays a surfer in this movie. The mere concept puts me in fits of giggles. I mean, how can you take the guy who slaughtered thousands in 300 seriously when wearing tight spandex and running out to catch a wave?

But I digress. From the looks of the trailer, Chasing Mavericks looks aggressively dull, a lifeless amalgamation of every surfing film I’ve ever seen. But one cannot judge a film by its trailer, and there are positive signs here. Apted is a very fine filmmaker, and the true story of surfer Jay Moriarty the film chronicles is an interesting one. Can it make for good drama? Maybe. I like the cast, even though star Jonny Weston is a major question mark. If he can carry the proceedings, the film can probably work. If not? Well, we can always laugh at Leonidas in a wetsuit.

What films are you most excited for? Sound off in the comments, and be sure to read PART THREE of our FALL MOVIE PREVIEW SPECTACULAR! 

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  • obloodyhell

    What made Taken so good was really pretty simple: Luc Besson wrote it and produced it. I’ve yet to see anything with Besson in two “construction” roles (writer, director, producer) that wasn’t at least good, often very good, sometimes excellent…. even the stuff he has only a single role in the creation of, often do well enough. Liam Neeson’s talented acting was just icing on that cake. So I expect Taken2 to be decent at worst.

    Pitch Perfect looked remarkably lame on concept, but… from the trailer it looks like it has just enough irreverence and snark to pull off not being some dumbass Glee ripoff.

    Butter sculpting…? Looks just weird enough to work.

    The only concern with Argo is that George Clooney produced it. That suggests it’s going to reflect enough of his ultraliberal viewpoint that it will successfully turn off audiences. There’s a reason certain movies and TV series over the last 10-odd years have generally fallen flat on their faces — they reflect a view of America that isn’t in keeping with that of the American people, but instead reflects the attitude of the Hollywood Elites. Clooney is one of those. If he chose to produce it, it’s because he liked something he saw…. and that bodes ill for this movie’s primary message.

    Alex Cross looks decidedly uncerebral.