I know I tend to repeat myself every now and then when it comes to movies, but that’s more of Hollywood’s fault than mine. Think about how many films we see each month that is some sort of remake or reboot? I’m not saying that’s all bad, it’s just part of the landscape these days when it comes to stories being told on the big screen. And every year, I tend to go into the same rhetoric about August and how forgettable it seems to always be. But, I had higher hopes this year with films like “Planes” and “Elysium” coming out. And while those soared higher than people expected, others fell leaving me very little to talk about or review. I certainly won’t waste your time doing it, which is why I’m ready to turn my attention to the fall season. In the past, September was no more than the month ‘in-between’ summer and fall, but lately we have seen a film or two wind up in the mix come award season. As for which ones; I guess you’ll have to read my own previews of what’s in store and decide for yourself.
“Riddick” (September 6th)
Raise your hand if you thought this character Vin Diesel created would last this long? I know I didn’t, and I actually really liked “Pitch Black” when it came out. However, some stories are not meant to turn into sequels, but producers don’t care about that, having now moved on to a third installment. This after the ‘so-so’ second installment “The Chronicles of Riddick” back in 2004. Don’t get me wrong, “Pitch Black” was raw and Diesel was a big part of that, but to keep going with this just feels wrong from where I sit. Yeah, the same writer/director is back, which is important, but for once, I might have liked to see someone other than David Twohy direct. He is a great writer, but as a director, I’m not so sure. So, as much as I would like to get into this new film, I have my reservations given DVD sales helped get us here.
“The Family” (September 13th)
Not sure what an English-language French film actually means, but Robert De Niro is in it, so I don’t care. I mean, that’s the only reason I would venture into the theater to watch this one, which apparently is based on the novel Malavita by Tonino Benacquista. For those wondering, that title means Badfellas in English, but that same author also helped write the script here. That’s good, even if he does not fully understand the process of movies and what a half-way decent script can mean to the overall story. So, we’ll see how it shakes out, but with director Luc Besson on board, I can’t imagine this film not at least being entertaining. For American’s, we know Besson from his films like "The Professional," “The Transporter,” “Taken” and “Columbiana.” For the French though, he is much more than that having written, directed or produced nearly 70 films since the early 80’s. That’s quite the resume for a guy a lot of people would not recognize purely based on his name.
“Prisoners” (September 20th)
I almost cringe even previewing this film, given Hugh Jackman is attached to it. Yeah, that’s how much I despise him as an actor for the big screen. In this film, he looks to be playing a bit of a lunatic which I might actually enjoy. Reality is, his very own Wolverine character from the “X-Men” fame is a little “off,” so this role might not bother me as much. Plus he plays opposite Jake Gyllenhaal, who I’m a big fan of. So, considering that, along with the rest of this star studded cast including Viola Davis, Terrance Howard and Melissa Leo, this film starts to look better and better. A cast like that almost can’t go wrong, unless the script is a mess, which is almost impossible considering that same cast also agreed to be in the film. Because if the story pans out like it should, this could be one of those sleeper pictures I tend to refer back to when the Oscar push begins.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” (September 27th)
Yes, they made another one, as if there was ever a doubt. I mean, pretty much every animated hit will generate a sequel, so no different here for a story that is about as unique as it gets. And I’ll be honest; I never gave the first one a chance. It just didn’t seem to look all that great, but it did well enough at the box office and DVD sales were big. I should know, because I have the DVD at home and have watched the original numerous times with my kids. Multiply that by however many households you want and you get why there is now a sequel. And to be honest, this is a lot more entertaining than I thought it would be. And for kids, clearly a fun film to watch unfold on the big screen given no other movie will feature that kind of 3-D with giant food literary right in front of your face.
“Rush” (September 27th)
From the “never saw that coming” arena, is a Ron Howard film that looks nothing like a Ron Howard film. That could either be a very good thing or bad thing depending on who you ask. The story seems very straightforward without a whole lot of drama, at least the kind of drama we are normally accustomed to in a Ron Howard film. That’s no slight, just a fact when you start to look back at Howard’s resume. So, it will be interesting to see how Howard manages this story around Formula One racing and one driver’s relentless pursuit to get back to the top of a sport he once ruled. I think if he manages his time well and uses Peter Morgan’s script to his advantage, this film could wind up on a few ballots this award season. Because the one thing I have learned in studying the Oscars is if an actor or director goes way outside their normal arena for a project, voters take notice, so if Howard does well with this film, I would think he will be rewarded handsomely.
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