Fall Movie Preview: Spellbinding Sorcerers, Derailing Thrillers, and Peculiar Children!

With the summer heat quickly fading, along with the memories of the countless unneeded sequels and reboots we've gotten over the past few months, the Fall movie season is soon upon us, and with it a plethora of exciting new projects. From a handful of dramatic and action-packed book adaptations (gladly no more Hunger Games films) to a magic hat full of mystical beasts and powerful sorcerers, this Fall is shaping up to deliver both hopeful Oscar nominees, as well as some magical voyages into the greater unknown. Here's a breakdown of some of the biggest films coming this Fall:   

Spellbinding Magicians and Spine-Tingling Monsters:

Doctor Strange - The first of many "strange" films releasing this Fall, Marvel Studios' massive leap into the mystical promises not only more and more comic-book characters, but also a kaleidoscopic adventure of magic and mystery. Set to introduce Marvel fans to the first live-action take on the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), the studio that has had countless box-office hits -- but has also suffered in numerous areas like character development and redundancy -- aims to appeal to both fans of the fantasy genre and of the classic comic sorcerer to round up even more cash. But can another origin story live up to past Marvel Cinematic Universe hits like Captain America: Civil War and Iron Man? Let's just hope Stephen Strange can conjure up just the right recipe to save this film.  

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - If any director were too take on this unusual adaptation of Ransom Riggs' best-selling novel, telling of a secret oasis for peculiar children and their fantastic abilities, I'm sure glad it's Tim Burton. The man behind such outlandish projects like Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, this tale of strange creatures and magical outcomes is right up his alley. Looking to be a mostly-faithful translation from the popular 2011 novel, this fantasy flick looks to pack a brilliant cast -- including Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, and Samuel L. Jackson -- into a dark and whimsical adventure.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - Continuing to call upon me, even though I didn't find the Harry Potter films or novels to be that memorable, the latest spin-off coming out of Hollywood looks to be an exciting and fulfilling adventure of magic and monsters. Aiming to expand the wizarding world beyond just "The Boy Who Lived", author J.K. Rowling and director David Yates (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) employ a new and unexpected tale of wizards in 1920s America. With a stellar cast already lined up -- including Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, and Dan Fogler -- and a gracious amount of visual effects to construct its fantasy realm, this highly-anticipated spin-off could end up being just as lasting as the Potter franchise.    

A Monster Calls - From the director of the 2012 drama The Impossible, as well a handful of episodes of the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, the fantasy thriller of October's A Monster Calls seems like a reasonable next step for up-and-coming director J.A. Bayona. Telling of a young boy who must deal with the terminal illness of his mother, as well as other emotional issues forced upon him, by befriending a strange humanoid tree, while A Monster Calls may not sound extraordinarily groundbreaking, it does look to have more heart than any film I've seen in a while. What could be a fantastically-crafted indie much like The Impossible was, A Monster Calls looks to harbor much more than just a discount Groot.

Arrival - What looks to be a dream sequel to Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, November's massively-ambiguous sci-fi mystery Arrival harbors many more surprises than I initially expected. From the director of Prisoners and Sicario, one of the more intriguing alien invasion films to pop into the theater this Fall doesn't even feature a single alien nor an invasion in its cryptic trailers. Much like Mr. Nolan does with his films, director Denis Villeneuve aims to draw in enough fans of his last projects, as well as moviegoers eager to see what happens next, to enter another one of his expertly-crafted thrillers. While I didn't find 2015's drug-cartel thriller Sicario to be anything too monumental, Villeneuve is one of those directors that could surprise you in an instant.  

A Few Intriguing Adaptations, From the Demonic to the Derailing:

The Light Between Oceans - Based on the best-selling 2012 novel, the captivating story of a couple who find solace in their depression when they discover a newborn child lost at sea is set to bring both waterworks and Oscar nominations to the big screen with September's breathtaking adaptation. With an Oscar-winning cast at his disposal, and a colorful palette of period-piece filmmaking already apparent by its previews, The Light Between Oceans looks to be the shining example of the year in terms of book-to-film adaptations. Starring the likes of Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz, let's just hope this brilliant story of loss and discover is enough to draw in a fair amount of moviegoers.

The Girl on the Train - With a number of gripping thrillers being adapted for the big screen this year, one of my most anticipated ones has to be October's Gone Girl look-a-like The Girl on the Train. Spinning an intricate tale of murder and adultery, this 2015 best-seller aims to bring both a star-studded cast and multiple levels of intrigue to the big screen, all in hopes of delivering a nail-biting thriller just as memorable as 2014's Gone Girl. While it might not have David Fincher at its helm as director, this whirlwind tale of feverish frights and freight trains already looks to be one of the best mysteries of the year.

Inferno - Reuniting the team of Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard to revive the acclaimed series of historical thrillers by author Dan Brown, October's highly-anticipated sequel to 2009's Angels & Demons brings back one character Hanks has played that I've never really dived into. Partially enjoying Ron Howard's last two adaptations of this series -- featuring the fictional Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon (played by Hanks) -- when I first heard they were adapting Inferno next, I wasn't completely on board. Still, with the past films receiving some acclaim for their tales of religious mystery and fast-paced thrills -- and the books by Brown still popular among fans -- Inferno looks at least worth a try for any fan of historical mysteries.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back - Another sequel I was adamant at first about seeing was the follow-up to 2012's Jack Reacher, Never Go Back. Based on the 2013 novel by author Lee Child, Never Go Back aims to continue four year after the last film, pitting leading man Tom Cruise against a whole new arsenal of deadly enemies. With actress Cobie Smulders tagging along this time as Cruise's former military Major Jack Reacher falls down another rabbit-hole of violence and mystery, while this action-packed sequel does look like another hit for Cruise, I'm still not completely convinced with it yet.

True Stories of Heroism, Hackers, and Horizons:

The Birth of a Nation - Blending the emotional turmoil of 12 Years a Slave with the fascinating filmmaking of the usual indie hits to come out of the Sundance Film Festival, the latest release from Fox Searchlight Pictures harbors an epic tale deep-seated in America's history. Telling of the 1831 slave rebellion led by preacher Nat Turner in Southhampton County, Virginia, The Birth of a Nation looks to deliver an emotional tale fueled by racism and revolution at a time when that very same ideal is quite controversial today. Though it may be set in the early 1800s, this film could resonate well with the problems we face as a society face today, especially as race continues to divide us. Looking beautifully-shot and directed just by the trailer, I hoping this film will be both memorable and highly-influential.  

Sully - Another Tom Hanks-starrer that aims to take flight this Fall is the biographical drama Sully. Telling the true story of veteran pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenburger, and the memorable airway disaster that later became known as the "Miracle on the Hudson", this dramatic take on the 2009 incident aims to fly high with a stellar cast and a plot quite similar to that of 2012's Denzel Washington-starrer Flight. Directed by Clint Eastwood, who has had a up-and-down career as both an actor and a director, and starring Hanks as the experienced pilot soon dissolved by accusations and threats following the incident, Sully could be another great biopic under both Hanks' and Eastwood's belts, or a forgetful recreation with little emotional importance.

Snowden - Another intriguing biopic I'm still on the fence about is the tale of NSA hacker Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in the Oliver Stone film Snowden. The man behind such biographic projects as 1991's The Doors, 1995's Nixon, and 2008's W., Stone is no stranger to bringing real faces of heroism, fame, and controversy to the big screen. This time taking on the gripping tale of how promising computer programmer Snowden turned to a life of crime and espionage in order to expose government secrets, what looks to be a hopeful hacker thriller could dissolve under a clich├ęd structure we've seen all before. Nevertheless, Snowden's likable cast and well-versed director could make it worth a watch.

Bleed For This - Ever since his turn for the dramatic in 2014's acclaimed drama Whiplash, I've considered Miles Teller a silent force to be reckoned with. Diving into another intense role in November's boxing biopic Bleed for This, Teller again looks to be reaching for an Oscar nomination with his brutal role as struggling boxer Vinny Paz. As bone-breaking as his role as an ambitious jazz drummer in Whiplash, Teller's commitment and fearlessness as he dives into his newest role is breathtakingly evident in the previews for this film. While another boxing film is the last thing Hollywood needs after countless others like last year's Southpaw and Creed, Bleed for This looks to be another great role for the up-and-coming Miles Teller.

Hacksaw Ridge - From director Mel Gibson, who has graced the screen both as an accomplished actor and a steadily-growing director, Hollywood's latest war drama tackles the tale of U.S. Army medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), a soldier who refused to bear arms at the turn of the second World War. Looking to be a worthy war flick based on a heroic true story, Hacksaw Ridge could end up delivering some noticeable performances from Garfield (who can definitely tackle other roles than just the web-slinger Spidey) and maybe even make for another Oscar-winner war drama this Fall.

Deepwater Horizon - From the director of the fairly-enjoyable true story played out in the 2013 war film Lone Survivor, next month's disaster thriller Deepwater Horizon aims to bring actor Mark Wahlberg back to the front lines, this time leading a crew of oil miners to safety as their once-fully-functional oil rig off the coast of Louisiana soon becomes a deadly catalyst for disaster. Telling the true-life tale of real heroes who lost their lives when this 2010 incident occurred, while Horizon may not look as compelling as the action-packed and gritty Lone Survivor, it could offer up a timely tale surrounding one of the biggest disasters in recent U.S. history.  

Corrupt Criminals, From Modern Crime to Western Thrills:

The Magnificent Seven - From the director of Training Day and The Equalizer, the first remake to come this Fall is the western shoot-em-up The Magnificent Seven. Starring a slew of big Hollywood names to replace a slew of other big Hollywood names from the 1960s, this action-packed remake of the 1960 film of the same name aims to modernize the action set pieces of the western genre, all while retaining the same feel of the original film. While the return of the Antoine Fuqua-Denzel Washington team might sound pretty enticing, this sharp-shooting thriller still has me a bit on the fence, even with its stellar cast at play. 

The Accountant - While The Magnificent Seven may be tossing criminals against criminals in the Wild West, October's The Accountant takes to the 21st century and dives into dark criminal organizations and the anti-social sociopathic accountants representing them. Wrangling in a dense cast including Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, and Jon Bernthal to fill its crafty tale of a mathematical genius (Affleck) who sticks his nose in a little too deep when dealing with a dangerous robotics company, The Accountant looks to be another stellar starring role for Affleck, and possibly an inventive and satisfying crime thriller for the Fall season. 

Surfing Fables and Smurf-Like Fuzzballs:

Moana - From the towering studio behind popular animated features like Frozen and Zootopia, as well as nearly fifty other classic projects, the surfing voyage of demigods and young navigators of this Thanksgiving's Moana tosses up yet another colorful Disney feature to enjoy. With this film set to introduce us to a plethora of unique characters set in the South Pacific, a place rarely touched upon in the animated realm, Moana looks to deliver an action-packed adventure, no doubt with a plentiful amount of heart sewed in there somewhere. With nearly everything that has Disney's name stamped on it being nothing short of magical, and Moana's intriguing cast being led by the Rock himself, Dwayne Johnson, I have no doubt that this Thanksgiving film will be a delight to see opening weekend. 

Storks - Offering up another side of the animation spectrum, next month's aptly-named Storks tells of an ambitious delivery stork (delivering mail now rather than babies) named Junior who stumbles into a world of trouble when he accidentally creates an unauthorized baby using the storks' Baby Making Machine. While the plot might sound increasingly outlandish (even for a kids film), this film's top-tier cast of voice actors -- from Andy Samberg to the guys behind Key & Peele -- as well as its crew of experienced comedic writers could be enough for this film to take flight this Fall.

Trolls - One final animated feature set to debut this Fall, one that I'm neither against nor that excited about, is November's musical-comedy Trolls. Based upon the popular dolls of the same name, Trolls aims to spin a somewhat original tale with a gracious cast at play, all while trying to pull off something that 2014's The Lego Movie did superbly. While its cast does look promising -- even pulling in the likes of Justin Timberlake and Gwen Stefani -- this is one animated feature that may not appeal to everyone.

Coming-of-Age Comedies and Crude Company:

The Edge of Seventeen - Much like every coming-of-age tale, its central character must have to some sense of charisma or charm in order to keep the audience involved in their ever-evolving story. As for November's The Edge of Seventeen, its leading lady, up-and-coming singer and actress Hailee Steinfeld, she may have just the right amount of teenage spunk to be convincing. Telling of her character, junior Nadine's, troubling high school experience, The Edge of Seventeen offers up what looks to be another hopeful and somewhat emotional coming-of-age comedy from the indie genre.  

Keeping Up with the Joneses - Like Mr. and Mrs. Smith on steroids, October's crude comedy of suburban spies and neurotic neighbors, Keeping Up with the Joneses, packs in an quite unique and surprising cast to occupy its flashy tale of an ordinary couple who soon becomes embroiled in the deadly affairs of their secret agent neighbors. While leading man Zach Galifianakis might not be that uncommon for a crude comedy such as this, the rest of the cast -- including Mad Men's Jon Hamm and Wonder Woman's Gal Gadot -- look to be diving head-first into the comedy genre. While this comedy might not win over the Fall season, it might end up being a pleasant spy spoof at the theater.

Masterminds - After facing financial troubles and numerous push-backs since last year, another Zach Galifianakis-starrer, the heist-comedy Masterminds, finally makes its way to the big screen this September, set to deliver another mindless Hollywood comedy oddly with the potential to be pretty smart. From the director of cult comedies like Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, what looks like a playful and exaggerated spoof of the real-life 1997 bank robbery of Loomis, Fargo & Co. in Charlotte, North Carolina, actually could end up being an enjoyable ensemble comedy. Starring other comedy stars like Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, and Owen Wilson, while its plot may look outrageous and over-blown, the cast and writers behind Masterminds could be just what the title implies.

Forbidden Loves, From Courting in Casablanca to Colossal Court Cases:

Loving - Telling the captivating tale of interracial couple Richard and Mildred Loving, whose controversial marriage in the late 1950s caused both outbreak and revelation in the South, the historical drama from director Jeff Nichols aims to deliver a heartwarming love story to kick off the Fall season. Spinning an extremely relevant and fascinating true story already picking up praise from its release at the Cannes Film Festival, November's Loving already looks to harbor some fantastic performances not only from its leading couple -- Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga -- but also from its supporting cast as well. 

Allied - From the director of a handful of award-winning films, from sci-fi classics like Back to the Future to captivating dramas like Forrest Gump, another tale of forbidden love finds its way into the gritty atmosphere of Casablanca during World War II in Thanksgiving's Allied. While this Robert Zemeckis thriller could have easily been another passion project for star-couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, instead it stars the talented actress Marion Cotillard alongside a seemingly-ageless Mr. Pitt. Telling of two war-time spies who fall in love while on a mission to kill a German official, while this film might not be the most buzzed-about flick of the Fall, it certainly looks like it could harbor some favorable performances and direction.

Rules Don't Apply - Harboring promising performances from up-and-comer Alden Ehrenreich, Lily Collins, and star and director Warren Beatty, the unconventional love story of November's Rules Don't Apply tosses in a generous mix of 1950s period-piece filmmaking and glitzy atmospherics to give the Fall season an odd Aviator remake mixed with a freshman romantic comedy. With star Warren Beatty hopefully offering up a worthy performance comparable to Leonardo DiCaprio's in Howard Hughes' 2004 biopic, and the '50s rom-com theme flowing smoothly, this intriguing tale of forbidden love could be an enjoyable flick to check out this Thanksgiving.

With that, what films are you most excited to see this Fall? Are you tired of all the superhero films yet? Are you gearing up to spend the holidays with animated trolls and storks? Let me know in the comments below, and remember to stay tuned for more reviews coming this Fall!  


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