With the summer heat cooling down and the final months of the year starting to roll in, moviegoers are in for various treats and surprises at the box office as the fall movie season kicks into gear.
The autumn offerings are typically an eclectic mix of crowd-pleasing blockbusters and films looking to gain recognition in the preceding awards season, sometimes even managing to fall into both categories (see James Cameron, “Avatar”).
The upcoming fall movies of 2010 are no exception, and in terms of blockbuster status, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” is indubitably the most anticipated event of the season, perhaps even the year.
It is the beginning of the end at Hogwarts, and given the generous material in J.K. Rowling’s final book on the beloved boy wizard, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” has been split into two separate films, with ‘Part 1’ hitting theaters on Nov 19.
The second half, which contains the majority of battles from the book’s rousing climax, won’t arrive until July of 2011, yet the first half should prove to be just enough to tie fans over until then. Harry Potter, along with pals Ron and Hermione, have left Hogwarts to pursue the seven Horcruxes, items that are key in finally defeating the evil Lord Voldemort. Audiences will be sure to have their wands at the ready, and possibly even some tissues in knowing that the “Harry Potter” franchise will soon be coming to a close.
Aside from wizards, the season is filled with myriad other crowd-pleasers, most notably sequels and reboots of various franchises. Director Oliver Stone is going back to his 1987 acclaimed film “Wall Street” with a new sequel entitled “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps,” which is sure to adapt its plot to the current economic climate. Michael Douglas returns from the first film as the ruthless Gordon Gekko, fresh out of jail, along with a cast that includes Shia LeBeouf, Josh Brolin, and Carey Mulligan. The film opens on Sep 24.
Joining the 3D craze, the crew from “Jackass” are returning with their third film in the pain-inflicting, gag-driven series, aptly named “Jackass 3D” which opens Oct 15.
The following week on Oct 22, the sleeper hit from last year that scared the living daylight out of America is back with “Paranormal Activity 2.”
“The Chronicle of Narnia” returns on Dec 10 with the third film in the franchise, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”
In “Little Fockers,” opening Dec 22, Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro look to deliver laughs once more after teaming up in 2000’s “Meet the Parents” and 2004’s “Meet the Fockers.”
A surprise blockbuster venture, “TRON: Legacy” opens Dec 17 and is a reboot/sequel of a 1982 sci-fi film that developed a vehement cult following of fans and pop culture alike. Jeff Bridges returns, along with newcomer Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde, in a film about an alternate universe within a computer server where those trapped must compete in lethal battles to survive. From the trailer, both the effects and story look promising, and the cult of “TRON” should be prepared to make room for new members.
For the kids, the fall season is filled with assorted releases of both animation and live action. On Sep 17, “Alpha and Omega” tells the story of two wolves that fall in love while a more in depth story, “Legends of the Guardian: The Owl of Ga’Hoole,” opens on Sep 24, an animated action tale using the newest of 3D technology to create a completely stunning environment for moviegoers.
In “Megamind,” opening Nov 5, Will Ferrell voices the title villain, a goofy alien creature set on defeating the superhero known as Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt).
Dan Aykroyd voices the classic character “Yogi Bear” in the CGI/live-action hybrid on Dec 17, while Jack Black stars in a goofy, juvenile twist on the classic “Gulliver’s Travels” the following week, Dec 22.
The final stretch of the year is usually where acclaimed directors and stars pull out the big guns and produce some of the year’s best films, aiming for those oh-so-special nominations come Oscar season.
Director David Fincher (“Se7en,” “Zodiac”) delivers “The Social Network,” a legal thriller out Oct 1, which tells the dramatization of Facebook’s creation and all the backstabbing and lawsuits that came as a result. The film stars “Zombieland’s” Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Clint Eastwood seems to deliver an award-worthy film every year now, and his upcoming “Hereafter” (Oct 22) could just be another notch in his belt, but do not expect a typical Eastwood film; the director’s latest project is a meditation on near-death experiences starring Matt Damon and Bryce Dallas Howard.
Haunting director Darren Aronofsky follows his sublime “The Wrestler” with a noir thriller starring Natalie Portman in “Black Swan,” out Dec 1. Filmed locally, “The Fighter” opens Dec 10 and stars Mark Wahlberg as famous Lowell welterweight “Irish” Mickey Ward and Christian Bale as his addicted brother.
The James L. Brooks written-and-directed romantic comedy “How Do You Know” looks promising in a genre that falls victim to clichés far too often, while the Coen Brothers could repeat their success of “No Country for Old Men” with their take on the classic western “True Grit.” Both films are out on Dec 25.
The fall movie season is sure to be filled with surprises of both good and bad. Audiences will begin their farewell to Harry Potter, say hello again to old characters returning to the screen once more, and indulge in what should be high-quality cinema as the Oscar bait comes pouring into theaters week by week. Regardless, we are all in for mass amounts of entertainment over the course of the next four months.
MY PERSONAL FIVE
“It’s Kind of a Funny Story” (Sep 24) – Zach Galifianakis stars in this psych ward dramady that looks hilarious, heartfelt, and honest.
“Jackass 3D” (Oct 15) – Pure idiocy with one extra dimension? Oh, I am totally in.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” (Nov 19) – I am a fan, and seeing the final (and best) book of the series adapted will surely be a bittersweet goodbye.
“How Do You Know” (Dec 25) – The romantic comedy is by far my favorite genre when it is actually executed correctly. James L. Brooks seems to have nailed this study of love right on the head.
“The Social Network” (Oct 1) – I am extremely curious, I even posted a status about it.