Labor Day has come and gone, which means the official start of the fall movie season is just around the corner. In fact, two of the more anticipated releases of latter 2011 -- Warrior and Contagion -- come out tomorrow.
After what has been widely regarded as a dismal summer (qualitywise, that is; several movies still made stupid box office) that was chock full of lackluster sequels and subpar superhero fare, hopes are high that the fall and winter will offer some more adult choices for the discerning moviegoer who's grown tired of remakes and giant robots.
Though I should note there are several remakes and at least one robot movie coming out later this year.
Today and tomorrow we're going to look at some of the more highly anticipated coming attractions for the remainder of 2011. Next week we'll check out those...less so.
Warrior Release Date: September 9 Starring: Nick Nolte, Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton Plot: A recovering alcoholic trains his son Tom for an MMA tournament, which just happens to put him on a collision course with Brendan, his other son, who also just happens to be in the tourney.
At first, this looked like a modern retread of stock fighting movies like Gladiator (no, the other one) or Cage, but word of mouth on this has been outstanding, with praise for both Tom Hardy as Tom and Nick Nolte as his father. I wish I'd seen this instead of Contagion.
Drive Release Date: September 16 Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman Plot: Gosling plays a stunt driver (named..."Driver") who moonlights as a wheelman and falls in love with his neighbor (Mulligan), which gets him in trouble with her ex-con husband and his gangster comrades.
Like you, I wondered why they were remaking The Transporter after less than ten years. But it turns out Drive, from Nicolas Winding Refn (the director of Bronson), is a mash-up of film noir, art house and car movies like Bullitt. Refn won Best Director at Cannes, where the film received a standing ovation.
Moneyball Release Date: September 23 Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Goldberg, Philip Seymour Hoffman Plot: Based on Michael Lewis's 2003 book about Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (Pitt) and his attempts to use sabermetrics to compete against ball clubs with three times his budget.
A movie about statistical analysis as it pertains to baseball doesn't sound very thrilling, does it? Still, Lewis's book was great, and with a script by The Social Network's Aaron Sorkin, this should help people forget that the A's (where Beane is still GM) haven't made the playoffs in five years.
Killer Elite Release Date: September 23 Starring: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro Plot: Who is killing members of the British Special Air Services and why? Rogue SAS members Statham and Owen aim to find out, because this time, well...it's personal.
As long as Statham stays away from genre crap (In the Name of the King, Death Race), he's usually pretty reliable. I assume De Niro is a bad guy, as he's not British. And as an added bonus, Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck) is in it. I'm expecting at least eight inspirational deaths, by which I mean someone gets pitched off the roof of a skyscraper while praying to Jesus.
And yes, that is "Rock You Like a Hurricane" in the trailer.
50/50 Release Date: September 30 Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick Plot: 27-year old Adam doesn't just have to deal with a surprise cancer diagnosis, but also with the mixed reactions of friends and family to the news.
I'm a fan enough of Gordon-Levitt's to overlook this tidbit from the plot synopsis: "and befriends several older, wisecracking chemotherapy patients (Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer)," but only just.
Tucker & Dale vs Evil Release Date: September 30 Starring: Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine, Katrina Bowden Plot: Granted, it sounds like an extended Three's Company plot: A group of young, attractive campers mistakenly assume a couple of rednecks are trying to kill them, but Labine was good in Reaper, and Alan Tudyk's bona fides are solid. Plus, gratuitous wood chipper action.
The Ides of March Release Date: October 7 Starring: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei Plot: Staccato Clooney plays a Presidential candidate, and Gosling is his adviser, who looks to be jumping ship. Clooney directs, and wrote the script with his Good Night, and Good Luck co-scribe Grant Heslov. I'm in.
Say, you don't suppose the title is supposed to be ominous or anything, do you?
The Thing Release Date: October 14 Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen Plot: A prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 masterpiece (you heard me), this version attempts to tell the story of the Norwegian team that discovered the alien craft buried in Antarctica, and what happened to them. (Here's a hint: There aren't a ton of Norwegians in Carpenter's film).
Against my better judgment, I'm putting this on my "anticipated" list. For as much as I love the 1982 version (itself a remake of Howard Hawks's The Thing From Another World), I just don't know how they're planning on ramping up any tension when you know -- nearly 30-year-old spoiler warning -- everybody has to die.
And frankly, the trailer doesn't give me a lot of hope: more dogs, more flamethrowers (seriously, are those standard issue in Antarctica?) and the camp looks exactly the same as the one from 1982. Not promising.
Texas Killing Fields Release Date: October 14 Starring: Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jessica Chastain Plot: Loosely based on a series of unsolved murders that have taken place over the last 30 years along the stretch of I-45 from Houston to the Gulf Coast.
I'm including this mostly for local interest, since the plot deviates substantially from actual history of the murders. No doubt the heroic cops will get their man in the end, just like in real life.
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Margin Call Release Date: October 21 Starring: Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany Plot: Management at an investment firm attempt to deal with their company's imminent collapse during the 2008 financial crisis.
Hopefully the strong cast (which also includes Jeremy Irons and Stanley Tucci) will keep me from wanting to lob firebombs at Wall Street.
Tomorrow, Leo, Depp and Streep. Oh, and Muppets.