Summer is officially over and with that comes the doldrums of early fall. But even as moviegoers recover from Guardians of the Galaxy, Transformers, and X-Men, the industry marches on and tries its best to draw audiences in this month. Unfortunately, finding worthwhile releases for September is easier said than done.
This month features an eclectic mix of YA adaptations, gritty crime thrillers, stop motion animation, and even an offbeat horror flick. It also boasts two A-listers playing well within their comfort zones. That being said, not all of these films are going to be winners and most will probably only do middling business at the box office. But we think there are still a handful worth seeing.
Here are the 5 movies we're looking forward to in September.
The Maze Runner (Release Date: September 19th)
YA adaptations have been mostly hit or miss, but more often than not the ones that do hit deal with some sci-fi element. It's for that reason that we're keeping an eye on The Maze Runner, based on the novel by James Dashner. At the same time, we're also prepared for this one to disappoint.
For those who might not be familiar with the story, The Maze Runner follows a group of teens living just outside an ever-changing and mysterious maze. What's in the maze? Why are these kids chosen to run the maze? These are all questions with answers that could add up to an intriguing sci-fi picture...if done well. Fans of the book are certainly hoping the property catches on, but we'll have to wait and see whether casual audiences turn out.
Check out the trailer for The Maze Runner.
Tusk (Release Date: September 19th)
A Kevin Smith-directed horror film about a guy being slowly transformed into a walrus has all the makings of either a bizarrely awesome fall flick or B-movie schlock. About a decade ago we would have been lining up to see Tusk on day one, but Smith's standing among the fan community has tapered off considerably as of late. Granted, the director has ventured into more daring cinematic territory, but to mostly mixed results.
Tusk is no different, and as a result it teeters somewhere in the middle. The concept certainly sounds interesting, and the cast is strong, but there's no telling whether Smith's writing style will mesh with darker material. Color us curious, but cautiously optimistic.
Check out the trailer for Tusk.
A Walk Among the Tombstones (Release Date: September 19th)
Liam Neeson has already had two hits this year with Non-Stop and The LEGO Movie, and he's very likely to have another with A Walk Among the Tombstones, based on the novel by Lawrence Block. Some have begun to criticize Nesson for playing very same-y characters, but so far that has worked for the Oscar-nominated actor. However, putting him in a gritty R-rated film might either be the shot in the arm fans were looking for, or it could be the thing that turns them off completely.
There's also the question of the source material, and whether Lawrence Block fans believe Neeson is the right for the Matt Scudder character. From our perspective, he seems like a perfect fit to play the reckless, alcoholic ex-cop. And if this one hits, Neeson will have likely secured his next action franchise after Taken.
Check out the trailer for A Walk Among the Tombstones.
The Boxtrolls (Release Date: September 26th)
Laika's stop motion animated features are something of an anomaly. Critically acclaimed but oftentimes overlooked, these films usually offer something a little different and struggle as a result. Laika's latest film, The Boxtrolls, is based on the children's book Here Be Monsters!, about a boy raised by underground creatures with makeshift clothing.
That premise in and of itself might not hold a grand appeal with kids, but the stop motion animation could draw in adults. Laika has done well to get the world out early, and so far critics appear to be singing The Boxtrolls' praises. Now if only they can get it to hit with audiences…
Check out the trailer for The Boxtrolls.
The Equalizer (Release Date: September 26th)
Although few will remember the '80s TV series, The Equalizer was something special back in its day. Essentially, the series was like a solo A-Team, where an ex-Spec Ops officer named Robert McCall helped even the odds for people in need. As far as we can tell, this 21st century adaptation retains all of those key elements, but condenses them into a single feature-length adventure. Oh, and it features Denzel Washington in the lead role.
That alone should be enough to get the people in the seats, but in case you need something more, we should note that The Equalizer reunites Washington with his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua. And the last time those two teamed up, Denzel Washington came away with an Oscar.
Check out the trailer for The Equalizer.
Slim pickings doesn't even begin to describe September, but such is the way of the business in early fall. We figure that The Equalizer and A Walk Among the Tombstones should have no problem finding success thanks to their leads, but the rest is up in the air. The Maze Runner could be a surprise hit, or it could be a huge flop. The Boxtrolls has that family-friendly appeal, but Laika productions don't always hit. We also wouldn't be surprised if No Good Deed or Dolphin Tale 2 squeaked out a decent opening weekend, even if they didn't make our list.
Readers will also note that this is a very back-loaded month, with practically nothing to offer for the first two weeks. So while there may be some films worth seeing, it's going to be an agonizing wait to get to them.
Once again, here are the 5 films we're interested to see:
- September 19th: The Maze Runner, Tusk, A Walk Among the Tombstones
- September 26th: The Boxtrolls, The Equalizer
Follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTaormina