As summer fades out, Fall 2014 will come blowing in, bringing with it the usual downers like a return to school, an end to vacation, and the re-donning of long-legged, long-sleeved, wardrobe.
Along with the fade of summer goes the fade of the big blockbuster movie season, and the slow build to the holiday blockbuster season. With fall, we usually find ourselves in a split situation, cinematically; the first half (September – mid-October) tends to be lacking in quality movie options, but by the end of October (and on through December), a whole slew of films – both big blockbusters and early Oscar hopefuls – will be crowding the cineplex.
Below we’ve created a guide to the upcoming Fall Movie Season 2014, to help you determine which films are truly worth spending on. Will you need to save your money to watch everything worth watching? Or will you be spending a lot of time watching the Fall 2014 TV season? Read on and determine the answer for yourself.
Bottom Line: With just one promising option in each genre, September 2014 looks pretty bleak for movie fans.
The Longest Week
Affluent and aimless, Conrad Valmont (Jason Bateman) lives a life of leisure in his parent’s prestigious Manhattan Hotel. In the span of one week, he finds himself evicted, disinherited, and… in love with Beatrice Fairbanks (Olivia Wilde).
OUR TAKE: It has Jason Bateman and Olivia Wilde, so that’s something; however, beyond the casting this sounds like the type of smaller dramedy we can wait to catch at home.
Dolphin Tale 2
The team of people who saved Winter’s life reassemble in the wake of her surrogate mother’s passing in order to find her a companion so she can remain at the Clearwater Marine Hospital.
OUR TAKE: Um, did you see the first one? That answer should pretty much determine the worth of the sequel, in your eyes.
The film follows lonely bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) through a covert scheme of funneling cash to local gangsters – “money drops” – in the underworld of Brooklyn bars. Under the heavy hand of his employer and cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), Bob finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood’s past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living – no matter the cost.
OUR TAKE: This is another hard-boiled crime story from author Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island); it also happens that Lehane himself adapted this screenplay out of his own short story, “Animal Rescue”. That’s a good sign in our book – the cast (Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and one of Gandolfini’s last roles) is only more reason to check this out.
No Good Deed
Terri (Taraji P. Henson) is a devoted wife and mother of two, living an ideal suburban life in Atlanta when Colin (Idris Elba), a charming but dangerous escaped convict, shows up at her door claiming car trouble. Terri offers her phone to help him but soon learns that no good deed goes unpunished as she finds herself fighting for survival when he invades her home and terrorizes her family.
OUR TAKE: Taraji P. Henson (Hustle & Flow) is always solid – but the real story here is Idris Elba re-teaming with his Luther director Sam Miller to play a dangerous psycho (as opposed to the noble, hunky, guy). That might make this B-movie thriller worth a look.
The Skeleton Twins
After ten years of estrangement, twins Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader) coincidentally cheat death on the same day, prompting them to reunite and confront how their lives went so wrong. As the twins’ reunion reinvigorates them both, they realize that the key to fixing their lives just may lie in fixing their relationship with each other.
OUR TAKE: Seeing former SNL stars like Wiig and Hader in a movie with Modern Family star Ty Burrell screams comedy – but this is actually a drama. However, director Craig Johnson is from the camp of TV sitcom stars making solid indie films (See also: The Duplass Brothers), and Johnson co-wrote the script with Black Swan scribe Mark Heyman. Could be worth a look – if only on VOD.
The Maze Runner
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in an elevator, remembering nothing but his own name. He emerges into a world of about 60 teen boys who have learned to survive in a completely enclosed environment, subsisting on their own agriculture and supplies. A new boy arrives every 30 days. The original group has been in “The Glade” for two years, trying to find a way to escape through the Maze that surrounds their living space. They have begun to give up hope. Then a comatose girl (Kaya Scadelario) arrives with a strange note, and their world begins to change.
OUR TAKE: YA movie adaptations are typically a mixed bag of interesting concepts, middling action/adventure, and the anchor weight of soapy tweenage romance. The Maze Runner seems to favor the first two over the latter piece, so that’s a good start. Some darker concepts and themes also have us intrigued – but the budgeted effects could be drawback.
This is Where I Leave You
When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens.
OUR TAKE: This one has a dynamite cast (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard and Abigail Spencer), a good director in Shawn Levy (Real Steel, Night at the Museum) – and the author of novel (Jonathan Tropper) is the one writing the screenplay. Could be worth a look.
A man (Justin Long) is captured by a maniac (Michael Parks) and tortured, physically and mentally, into becoming a walrus.
OUR TAKE: Kevin Smith’s latest is a weird one, for sure. But that will likely only make Kevin Smith fans more intrigued to see what the director has done. For the larger audience? Maybe not so much appeal.
A Walk Among the Tombstones
Private investigator Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson) is hired by a drug kingpin to find out who kidnapped and murdered his wife.
OUR TAKE: The latest Liam Neeson action/mystery/thriller. So if you liked Non-Stop…
A young orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator. Based on the children’s novel ‘Here Be Monsters’ by Alan Snow.
OUR TAKE: Laika set itself apart as an animation studio with darkly quirky films like Coraline and ParaNorman. The Boxtrolls looks like it will continue that steady trend of uniquely fun filmmaking.
A former black ops commando (Denzel Washington) who faked his death for a quiet life in Boston comes out of his retirement to rescue a young girl (Chloe Grace-Moretz) and finds himself face to face with Russian gangsters.
OUR TAKE: Antoine Fuqua made a gritty throwback action flick with Olympus Has Fallen, and we can only hope for even better things from this action flick that re-teams Fuqua with his Oscar-winning Training Day star. If there is one film we’re saving our money for in September, it’s probably this one.
Jimi: All Is By My Side
A drama based on Jimi Hendrix’s pre-fame years.
OUR TAKE: The film can’t use Hendrix’s music – however, the intrigue of having Outkast’s André 3000 in the lead; actresses Imogen Poots (Need for Speed) and Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) co-starring; and Oscar-winner John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) both writing and directing? That’s enough for us to give this biopic a shot.
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