Fall Movie Preview

Thirteen buzz-worthy autumn films you (probably) won‘t want to miss....
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Thirteen buzz-worthy autumn films you (probably) wont want to miss

With the summer movie season behind us, it’s time to look at the cinematic feast that awaits in the fall. With the expected mixture of would-be blockbusters, Oscar hopefuls, prequels, sequels, remakes, reboots and comic book movies, there are a few standout gems. Here are thirteen of the most promising.

The long-awaited sequel to James Cameron’s “Avatar” arrives in December. Courtesy 20th Century Studios

 “Blonde” (Sept. 23)

The Gist: Premiering on Netflix, the life of Marilyn Monroe, played by Ana de Armas.

Why It Could Rock: Directed by the brilliant, fearless, Aussie filmmaker Andrew Dominick and showcasing an all-or-nothing tour de force by de Armas (whose resemblance to Monroe is stunning). 

Unless: The lengthy running time and the darkness of the material make this another prestige Netflix Oscar contender that no one watches. It’s officially rated NC-17, so be prepared to hear complaints from parents who caught their kids watching it alone. 

 “Don’t Worry Darling” (Sept. 23)

The Gist: Olivia Wilde’s second film as a director is a 1950s-set drama, shrouded in secrecy.

Why It Could Rock: Appearing like “The Stepford Wives” meets “Logan’s Run” but with Harry Styles. Wilde’s directorial debut, “Booksmart,” was adored. This looks far more ambitious and risky, with a supporting cast that includes Florence Pugh and Chris Pine.

Unless: the film’s message is as obvious and on-the-nose as the trailer. As intriguing as it looks, “The Twilight Zone” and “Black Mirror” have covered these topics. Styles is a pop phenomenon and easy on the eyes, but can he act?

 “Bros” (Sept. 30)

The Gist: The first mainstream, major-studio romantic comedy about gay men, starring Billy Eichner.

Why It Could Rock: After decades of the likes of “Kiss Me, Guido” and “I Love You, Philip Morris,” we finally get a big-budget studio film. The trailer is hilarious and director Nicholas Stoller (of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Neighbors”) is a sex comedy expert.

Unless: What if it’s rejected by mainstream audiences? There are lots of gay rom coms within independent cinema, but the major studios have rarely attempted this, let alone gotten it right.

 “Hocus Pocus 2” (Sept. 30)

The Gist: The Sanderson Sisters are back. Expect musical numbers and a talking cat.

Why It Could Rock: They somehow got Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy to return for a decades-belated sequel to a 1993 summer flop-turned-cult-movie staple. Even if it’s purely camp, this will be irresistible to the generations of “Hocus Pocus” fanatics.

Unless: Long-awaited comedy sequels have a habit of sucking. Remember “Coming 2 America”? “Dumb and Dumber To”? “Anchorman: The Legend Continues”? Aside from the superstar trio and a few cast members, most of the original creative team is absent.

 “Halloween Ends” (Oct. 14)

The Gist: The last in the new Michael Myers trilogy. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode.

Why It Could Rock: Curtis is the key ingredient, and the concept has been enticing audiences for over 40 years. Essential viewing for diehard horror fans for at least one weekend. 

Unless: The prior sequel, “Halloween Kills,” royally sucked. If this one disappoints on that level, expect a “The Matrix Revolutions” level of audience neglect. The emphasis on gore and cruelty has shaken the Hitchcockian quality out of this series.

 “Black Adam” (Oct. 21)

The Gist: Dwayne Johnson is typecast as the new indestructible DC superhero. 

Why It Could Rock: By now, Johnson is playing himself, in tailor-made action movies for 13-year-old boys. No one seems to mind. 

Unless: If it’s nonsense like this and “Red Notice” that is keeping Johnson from playing King Kamehameha, in the long-promised Robert Zemeckis epic, “The Kingdom,” then I’ll skip this and wait for a real event movie from The Rock.

Dwayne Johnson stars in “Black Adam.” Courtesy New Line Cinema

 “Amsterdam” (Nov. 4)

The Gist: A wacky, 1930s-set, all-star David O. Russell comedy. 

Why It Could Rock: The amazing ensemble (Christian Bale, Anya Taylor-Joy, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, and Chris Rock, for starters) and memories of Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” “American Hustle” and “Flirting With Disaster” bode well.

Unless: It’s Russell’s first movie without Jennifer Lawrence in many years. Will the controversy surrounding his personal life and infamous on-set tantrums overshadow his latest? 

 “Black Panther: Wakanda
Forever” (Nov. 11)

The Gist: A return to Wakanda, minus T’Challa. 

Why It Could Rock: Making a sequel to one of the very best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the most obvious, foolproof decision Disney has made all year. Bringing back director Ryan Coogler and Angela Bassett was crucial. The trailer is terrific.

Unless: The Chadwick Boseman-sized hole at the center of this will be impossible to fill. This feels uncomfortably like when MGM went ahead and made Pink Panther movies without Peter Sellers. Is it even possible that this will be better than the original without T’Challa?

 “The Fabelmans” (Nov. 23)

The Gist: A semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama from Steven Spielberg about a family of filmmakers.

Why It Could Rock: Spielberg’s most personal film in years. This offers a solid cast (Paul Dano and David Lynch), an ode to filmmaking, and something truly different for Spielberg. It’s opening on Thanksgiving and could provide a nice alternative to the glut of sequels.

Unless: All the heart won’t be worth it if it proves to be as hollow as Spielberg’s recent work. Will this play like a celebration of the movies or a self-indulgent tribute to the film’s director?

“Creed III” (Nov. 23)

The Gist: Michael B. Jordan stars and directs the third installment in the Balboa-Creed trilogy.

Why It Could Rock: Jordan pulls double duty this time out, sitting in the director’s chair for the first time. The first two films were terrific and launched Jordan into the mainstream. 

Unless: Sylvester Stallone isn’t in this one. The absence of Rocky Balboa in a “Rocky” spinoff will either allow this to stand alone or be a huge mistake. Stallone had nothing to do with the story this time, either. Adonis Creed can succeed without Rocky, but can Jordan without Stallone?

 “Disenchanted” (Nov. 24)

The Gist: Amy Adams returns as Giselle. Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden are back, too.

Why It Could Rock: The first one was Adams’ breakout role and this one could provide her a comeback. The original is one of the best live-action Disney comedies. 

Unless: “Enchanted” came out in 2007 and the long-rumored sequel took too long to get here. Place your bets on whether it will be better or worse than “Hocus Pocus 2.”

 “Avatar: The Way of Water” (Dec. 16)

The Gist: The blue-skinned, long-tailed Na’vi are back and so is Sully, who is now a father. 

Why It Could Rock: It’s been years in the making. Generations of moviegoers recall their favorite 3-D movie in the theater was the original “Avatar”(2009). That audience will return in hopes of the same experience. The trailer is gorgeous and, as always, James Cameron will show us his dreams.

Unless: Will audiences embrace a sequel that is at least a decade late? Will the beauty of Pandora and Cameron’s reliably melodramatic storytelling be enough to balance a mega-serious pet project? If this bombs, the already-shot “Avatar” parts 3 and 4 are in deep trouble. 

Barry Wurst

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