Films of Autumn: From the Awesome to the Audacious

We've had killer spies, 2-hour car chases, humorously enslaving robots; now, it's time we turned down the volume a bit...but only a bit. As we move out of the summer movie season, and into the sometimes mellow, sometimes insane Fall season, tons of exciting and thought-provoking films are blowing our way. With spies and teen franchises still on the menu, and new thrillers and biopics ready to surprise us, this season looks to be one heavy-hitter. From the depths of our darkest fears (as well as the fears we read as children) to the legends that carved and blazed their way through history, this Fall holds much promise for both moviegoer pleasure and the high-exulted Oscar buzz! Here are some of the flicks you may want to check out this Autumn:

High-Wire Thrills and Icy Spills:

The Walk- Just as it is during the summer season, there's always those few films that beckon towards audiences to run to see them in eye-popping IMAX 3D, believing that is the ONLY way to experience them. An on-the-fence fan of IMAX and 3D myself, I realize now that 3D isn't always all that special, or as special as it's made out to be. However, when a film such as this, which reminds me a lot of what 3D titans Avatar and Gravity (among others) were like in theaters, comes along, I can't help but wonder. The Walk, a biopic taking us into the life of high-wire artist Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as he transcends across the Twin Towers in 1970s New York, pits the audience on a wire of suspense, offering up an interesting look at the tempting dare of standing above the world. Most likely not as fantastic or ground-breaking as Avatar or Gravity, this daring biopic still might manage to knock our socks off, with both good storytelling and some nauseating high-wire thrills. 

Everest- Another big 3D release this year, the chilling action-adventure Everest offers up not only some icy slopes ready to come crashing down, but also an excellent ensemble cast from the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal to Keira Knightley. A survival thriller, pitting a team of climbers against the deadly facade of Mount Everest, the film may look like another one-and-done disaster flick (much like the earth-shaking San Andreas was), but may hold some great performances as well. With a cast like Gyllenhaal (whose proved countless times that he's a damn good actor), as well as Josh Brolin and House of Cards' Robin Wright, Everest may be concealing a bit more than some chilling surprises underneath its thick sheet of ice. 

The Martian- Speaking of an excellent ensemble cast, as well as some sharp thrills along the way, next on the list is Ridley Scott's The Martian. Much like Alien and Prometheus pitted space travelers against the odds and ends of outer space, The Martian (based off the best-selling novel) trades in deadly aliens and horrific prophecies for some daring survival tactics on Mars, as we see astronaut botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) take on the unknown reaches of the red planet. With the sarcastic and witty Damon leading a cast including Interstellar co-star Jessica Chastain, as well as Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, The Martian may be able to rely solely on its star-power, unless its space-jumping thrills are up-to-par with or better than the ones of the recent past.  

Monsters Among Us:

Crimson Peak- Just as I am with 3D, IMAX, and oranges, I'm a bit impartial when it comes to horror. Sometimes there comes along a nicely-tuned suspense with just enough jump-scares to keep it interesting, and other times there's the paranormal-heavy, plot-less nightmares that I can't stand. Not a fan of the never-ending Paranormal Activity franchise, nor its found-footage buddies that are low on both thrills and acting, there sometimes comes a film like Crimson Peak. From visionary director Guillermo del Toro, this ghostly flick evoked something inside me that made me somewhat intrigued by it, whether it be its brilliant cast or its artful presence. Whatever this tale of haunted homes and dark secrets may hold, it may deliver a new twist on the horror genre, to distract us from the typical frightening flops.  

Victor Frankenstein- Aside from the spooky, serious (yet sometimes laughable) type of horror that creeps around the corner, we also have the adventurous type of horror, which pits traversing heroes against their darkest fears. With films such as Priest or more specifically I, Frankenstein, the horror genre can play around with the fun, fantasy side a bit and ultimately deliver both decent and lackluster final products. As for this flick, however, which finds mad scientist Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) and Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) running after their deadly creation, the final product may actually be a good mix of the fantastic and the serious. With a hearty story that holds true (by the looks of it, anyway) to Mary Shelley's original work, while also revamping it with an awesome cast of characters, Victor Frankenstein looks like it could be a spooky good time at the theater.

Hotel Transylvania 2- While the teens and adults check into Victor Frankenstein or Crimson Peak, the kiddies can check into Hotel Transylvania once more, for some hilarious excitement with our favorite ghouls. Much like its predecessor, that delivered spooky laughs and fun-filled characters, this fresh sequel takes us back into the world where monsters and humans live as one, this time with some not-so-glorious results. When Dracula (Adam Sandler) takes his half-human grandson out to discover his inner monster, hilarity and trouble ignites as Drac and his motley crew of ghouls and ghosts bring high-flying chaos to their fright-filled hotel. A fan of the first one, as it brought comedy and satire to the suspenseful monsters of classic literature, this whimsical sequel may be able to evoke the same (or even more) hilarity this time around. 

Goosebumps- While we're still speaking of the horror genre, as well as to all the kiddies out there, it would be a crime to not include Goosebumps. Based on the works of R.L. Stine, which spawned a massive collection of children's horror novels, as well as a television series, Goosebumps takes us back into our childhood fears, as we see the likes of the Abominable Snowman, skeletons, mummies, and talking marionettes come to life. While it may be your typical fantasy adventure with minimal horror and cheesy writing, Goosebumps may end up surprising moviegoers, as it delivers a plethora of monsters and madness, and also Jack Black as Stine himself.  

I Spy Yet Another Spy:

Spectre- I know I've already gone on and on about James Bond's next adventure this year, but nevertheless I'm still super excited for it. As we saw in Daniel Craig's last take on the British spy in Skyfall, the ranks at the British secret service have already taken more than one or two hits to their core; now, the organization may be finished for good. As a new threat rises known as SPECTRE, and Bond and his team are sent to uncover massive secrets, new thrills and explosive action are thrown our way once more. Whether you like Craig as Bond or not, or you're getting tired of the same old same old, Spectre looks to be just as refreshing as Skyfall was, and even more exciting than any spy flick so far this year.

Bridge of Spies- If Steven Spielberg directing Tom Hanks doesn't get you from that start, then maybe a mysterious plot of a New York lawyer (Hanks) who must defend a wrongly-accused U.S. pilot captured by the Russians will spark your interest. Two of Hollywood's biggest money-makers team up once more in this Cold War thriller, pitting an unlikely hero against one of the world's deadliest foes. With the fantastic direction of Spielberg behind the wheel, and leading man Hanks along for the ride, Bridge of Spies may result in becoming one of two things: a sleeper hit like most historical dramas these days, or another political/war drama success like Saving Private Ryan and Lincoln.  

Mysteries and Mysterious Reboots:

Sicario- From the masterful director of suspense thrillers Prisoners and Enemy, Sicario takes us deep inside the world of the Mexican drug cartel, as we find FBI Agent Macer (Emily Blunt) dive into a risky game of secrets along the U.S.- Mexican border. With mysterious enemies and allies by her side, from her superior Agent Graver (Josh Brolin) to the intense and shadowy Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), Macer must find her way out of the hole she's put herself in and discover the matter the cost. Looking to be a worthy thriller for the Fall season, with the same grit and gloom as Prisoners had, I'm hopeful this film -- focusing on such now-commonplace topics of drug cartels and the U.S.- Mexican border -- will blaze its way to the top and deliver something unique.

The Transporter Refueled- Speaking of commonplace topics and blazing, here we have the fiery pile of nothingness that is The Transporter Refueled. Working as a reboot to the rip-roaring Transporter franchise, which began in 2002 and spawned two similar sequels, Refueled trades in its rugged Aussie powerhouse of Jason Statham for newcomer Ed Skrein, but still holds onto its fast-paced action roots. With the lack of Statham on board as the professional and deadly Transporter Frank Martin, as well as the clear lack of originality presented in the previews for this film, I'm pretty much full-on cautious about this one. Even with its gripping action, Bond-like espionage and womanizing, and potential to be somewhat better than the Transporter television series, Refueled has yet to sell me that it can top the trilogy that made Jason Statham such a badass.

Pawn Sacrifice- Never before has the game of chess been so intense. Following American chess champion Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) as he takes on the entire Soviet Empire in a game of tantalizing competition, Pawn Sacrifice -- much like many great biopics today -- dives deep into the psyche of its main character, ultimately picking apart the very ideals that made them such legends. In Fischer's case, he is a man of great pride and also great distress, as he soon becomes overwhelmed in this daring game of strategy and quick-thinking. With an intriguing plot (despite the chess part) and Maguire taking the lead in this dramatic mystery, Pawn Sacrifice looks like it could be as good as last year's The Imitation Game, as it delivers a thought-provoking premise, a brilliant cast, and leading man who has more under his sleeve than we ever imagined.  

Secret In Their Eyes- With an Oscar-winning cast at its head, and a haunting premise quite similar to that of 2013's Prisoners, this mystery-thriller may not seem like any kind of new territory, but it definitely has the star-power to keep it afloat. With a cast include Chiwetel Ejiofor (who seems to be everywhere now), Nicole Kidman, and Julia Roberts, Secret in Their Eyes, while it may not be the biggest blockbuster this Fall, surely looks enthralling enough to see in theaters. Telling off a rising FBI agent who must solve her own daughter's brutal murder after the case is dropped for 13 years, Secrets could be a pleasant surprise, as it shows similarities to great thrillers like Prisoners and The Gift, and also has the experience of Captain Phillips screenwriter behind its wheel. 

Teen Trilogies - The Scorching and the Mocking:

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials- After a long summer of teen novel adaptations like Paper Towns and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, it's about time we took a little break from the genre of sappy romance and clichéd outcomes. Oh, but you like young adult book adaptations? Then we have the movies for you! Continuing the series of maze running and rugged teens fighting odd creatures, we have the second of the Maze Runner films, The Scorch Trials. After successful escaping the maze (or whatever it was called in the book), Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and the Gladers must now face an even more dangerous threat: The Scorch, a desolate landscape that was once the world we know now. An action-packed thriller (with as much teen troubles and romance to go around) just as the first one was, Scorch Trials may be able to surpass its predecessor, as long as it delivers just enough surprises and accurate book details for the fans. Not so much a fan of the books (well, I haven't read them yet at least), I enjoyed the first film for what it was, building hope that this series may end up being much more exciting than the fading Hunger Games and the soon-to-be-dead Divergent series. 

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2- Speaking of the fading Hunger Games series, which has kept us all starving for the final showdown for years now, we have finally arrived at the end. After all the volunteering as tribute, hiding in trees, and making as many love triangles as Twilight did, the hit-or-miss franchise of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her loyal pals who hate the government is without a doubt a very flawed one. But, nevertheless, much like the Harry Potter, The Hobbit, and (for some) the Twilight franchises employed us to do, us fans must see how it all ends. Whether or not you're a fan of the books, the final film of this arrow-shooting, girl-on-fire series has teased us toward all-out war since the beginning. Now, after a good first film that got the ball rolling, a decent follow-up that was a favorite of mine, and the tease of all teases with Part 1 last year, there's no doubt I'll be seeing the big finale on the big screen. One of the more successful of the YA book adaptations, while also flawed in design as well, The Hunger Games has definitely kept the Thanksgiving season quite fiery (as if it wasn't all ready).  

Comedies- From the Heartwarming to the Spit-Taking:

The Intern- From the ever-growing depths where all the cheery romantic comedies crawl out of, we have the cheery romantic comedy known as The Intern. While it may be a step away from the usual tale of girl-meets-guy and clichés ensue, the film still holds the same sappy feel to it that makes it both intriguing and, at the same time, cautious. Telling of an aging widower (Robert De Niro) who stumbles upon a upscale fashion website and applies for an internship, The Intern takes us once more into the real world, where the biggest businesses now are overrun by young and hip innovators, leaving the old to either retire or work for them. With such a relevant idea as this, and a witty cast including Anne Hathaway, Nat Wolff, and Adam DeVine, The Intern could turn out to be a worthy rom-com for the Fall. Or it could end up like the very-similar (in premise and in title) The Internship, and only be a mediocre and forgettable comedy.    

Rock the Kasbah- Returning to the center stage, after numerous supporting roles in recent films like The Grand Budapest Hotel and Aloha, funnyman Bill Murray traverses the treacherous Middle East as he rocks his way back to the top in Rock the Kasbah. Telling of a washed-up rock manager (Murray) who does all he can to get his next big break, and soon finds himself deserted and penniless in Afghanistan, this music-filled comedy-drama takes us to hell and back with every bit of hilarity it can deliver. With a great cast from Bruce Willis and Kate Hudson to Danny McBride and Zooey Deschanel, Rock the Kasbah may seem like an unconventional and quite psychedelic project, but could end up being another hilarious hit with some memorable tunes.  

The Night Before- From the guys behind the typical raunchy comedic try-hards like This Is the End, Neighbors, and The Interview, comes The Night Before, a film about all the hilarity of the night before Christmas, released on the night before Thanksgiving. No matter the release date, this Christmas- and vulgar-heavy flick tackles yet another sensitive topic and pile-drives ignorant hilarity into it, much like The Interview did with North Korea and you know...killing its leader. Most likely less controversial than the film that didn't even make it to the big screen, The Night Before -- while it may take a few hits at specific religions -- might actually turn out to be entertaining on some level or another. With a fun cast, including the annoying but watchable Seth Rogen, the lovable Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the witty Anthony Mackie, this tale of three bros on their last ride through the traditions of Christmas in New York could be a memorable comedy, or it could be another Seth Rogen dud.  

Tales of the Great (and Violent):

Black Mass- Well, it's true: Johnny Depp is back in the game. Following a few lacking films like Transcendence and Mortdecai, which pretty much told us everything we needed to know about the legendary actor and his career these days, we unexpectedly got a nice little surprise known as Black Mass. Telling the tale of Irish mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, as he blazes his way through the violent streets of 1970s Boston, Black Mass looks to be one of the most exciting (and at the same time Oscar-worthy) films of the Fall. Bringing Depp back to his roots as the method actor that he once was, the actor transforms into his role as the blood-thirsty gangster, making for one frightening appearance. Alongside a rather fantastic cast, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Kevin Bacon, and Peter Sarsgaard, Black Mass looks to be one hell of a good time, with some A-list performances ready to surprise us.     

Legend- And if you thought Johnny Depp could make a great gangster, wait til you see Tom Hardy as two of them. Playing twin mobsters of 1960s London, Ronald and Reginald Kray, Hardy tackles one of his most complex roles yet. Already a worthy actor of many calibers, from his adventures in limbo in Inception to his most recent ride in Mad Max: Fury Road, Hardy has become without a doubt one of my favorite actors to watch. Now, as he tackles two conflicted twins in the corrupt underworld of London, this may be the film that earns the actor the Oscar buzz he deserves. 

Steve Jobs- Speaking of my favorite actors to watch, another actor at the top of the list would have to be the brilliant Michael Fassbender. Tackling as many roles as Hardy has, from the occasional comic-book films to the enigmatic indie films, Fassbender has captured my attention with nearly every role he does, as his unique and daring acting style continues to evolve. Taking over this year just as Hardy is doing, with the war flick Macbeth making waves already, Fassbender's next role also seems like quite the daring jump. From the director of Slumdog Millionaire and the writer of The Social Network, the next Steve Jobs biopic to hit theaters looks (seemingly) to be in good hands. Following a few documentaries and one flawed biopic starring the young Jobs look-a-like Ashton Kutcher, Steve Jobs jumps back into the mind of Apple's co-founder and his various issues, both psychological and marital. Whether it seems like a rehash of the boring life of a man and his machine, or a fresh take on the life of one of the world's biggest innovators, Steve Jobs may be able to ignite more fire than Kutcher's take, while also further boosting Fassbender's awesome caliber.    

Creed- Moving on from gun-play and machines, here we have yet another tale of a great (and somewhat violent) man. While he may be fictional like his father before him, the son of heavy-weight boxing champion Apollo Creed, Adonis Johnson, takes on a battle of true and heroic caliber in Creed. Much like the popular Rocky franchise made boxer Rocky Balboa a hero of the screen, through his courage and determination to overcome all odds, Johnson (played by Michael B. Jordan) tackles the gritty streets of Philadelphia, as well as his own morals, as he fights his way to the top. While I may not be the biggest fan of boxing films (or many sports films for that matter), this one actually looks to be something special, hopefully sustaining the heart and grit that the Rocky films brought to the silver screen years ago.  

Burnt- Much like all films about cooking and its fiery, competitive nature, if the trailer doesn't make you hungry, you haven't done your job. With past films like the cooking comedy Chef and the pleasantly delicious The Hundred-Foot Journey delivering decent courses for the genre, the gripping look inside Paris chef Adam Jones' (Bradley Cooper) struggle to gain fame behind the stove looks to be quite intriguing. With a stellar cast, including the likes of Emma Thompson, Daniel Brühl, and Sienna Miller (who also starred with Cooper in American Sniper), and a seemingly enthralling dive into the chef's inner demons, Burnt may be able to surprise us, just as long as it doesn't rely too much on its cast and manages to deliver a passable meal.

Trumbo- After millions of fans fed themselves a feverish serving of AMC's Breaking Bad for five seasons, and it soon become one of the highest rated shows ever, the guy behind all the drug-dealing and family-bonding, Bryan Cranston, became both a legend on the small screen, and an enjoyable supporting actor on the big screen. Now, taking the lead after many supporting roles, he stars as the flamboyant screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in this self-titled biopic. Not so much a fan of Breaking Bad --*hides from army of fanboys*-- as I have yet to watch the show, I'm still enough of a fan of Cranston's work to be excited for this film. In addition to that, much like 2014's Birdman tossed away the red curtain and exposed the ways of the theater, Trumbo does the same as we see how the hysteria of blacklisted Hollywood in the 1950s affected the world. With Cranston starring as the radical writer Trumbo, alongside a brilliant cast including John Goodman, Helen Mirren, and Diane Lane, Trumbo could be the next Birdman, as it shows us the dark secrets (and brutal hilarity) behind the screens of Hollywood.     

A Few Modern Retellings:

Pan- As we see every Fall season, there are always the plethora of reboots and retellings to keep the over-told stories alive and well. However, with as timeless a story as Peter Pan, which has been reimagined countless times since its birth on the screens of Walt Disney, it can sometimes be hard to look away from the past. Now, as the reimagined origin of Peter and his magical enemies and allies is told in Joe Wright's Pan, the tale is born again as a fun-filled fantasy adventure with an awesome cast. Originally based on the works of novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie, and made famous by Disney, this tale of how one boy strives to retain his youth and bring peace to a world in despair, Peter Pan has become one story that can be enjoyed by all ages, with its timeless ideals and colorful characters. Hopefully able to retain that timelessness with a fresh story, Pan could be a hit, as it already managed to avoid being crushed earlier this summer by blockbuster monsters Ant-Man and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.  

The Peanuts Movie- Another retelling to his theaters this Fall, one that isn't entirely a retelling but more of a page-to-screen adaptation much like all our favorite superhero and teen romance flicks today, is the fun-filled adventure of The Peanuts Movie. Based on the famous comic strip created by Charles M. Schulz, which later spawned four feature films and a plethora of television specials that saw lead character Charlie Brown and his friends through everything from Christmas and great pumpkins to love and Red Barons, Peanuts has captivated fans since its humble beginnings. Now, revamped with fresh 3D animation and a whole new story, the Peanuts gang reunites for one more exciting and sarcasm-filled adventure.

So, what films are you most excited for this Fall? Are you a fan of the slow-burn mysteries, the spooky, supernatural thrillers, or the raunchy, controversial comedies? Let me know your most-anticipated Fall film in the comment section below, and stay tuned this week for more reviews!

Popular Posts