After a pretty disappointing summer season that saw even box office favorites such as Johnny Depp and Will Smith flop spectacularly, it’s impossible to not look forward to the films of this fall.
In the fall, Oscar-bait and auteurs replace the mindless action and Michael Bay-wannabes of the summer — for the most part, at least.
Audiences will still get a fair number of those popcorn-flicks, although essentially all of note are sequels or part of a series, rather than original films.
“Riddick,” the third in the “Chronicles of Riddick” series, opens on Sept. 6. The movie stars Vin Diesel as an alien warrior bent on revenge.
Another action-flick is “Machete Kills,” opening on Oct. 11. The follow-up to Robert Rodriguez’s delightfully campy “Machete” stars Danny Trejo as the titular ex-Mexican federale who is recruited by the president of the United States to take down a dangerous arms dealer (Mel Gibson).
Nov. 8 sees the premiere of the season’s only major superhero film, “Thor: The Dark World.” Chris Hemsworth returns as the god of thunder and reunites with love interest Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) when she is brought to Asgard following a mysterious ailment. Together, they try to save the Nine Realms from a dark threat. Tom Hiddleston also returns as Thor’s devious brother Loki.
Another sure-to-be-massive sequel is “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” which premieres Nov. 22. Just when they think they’re safe after winning the Games in the first film, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) face further danger with the announcement of a shocking twist for the 75th Annual Hunger Games.
Opening on Dec. 13 is the next in line of huge sequels, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) continues his quest with the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) to help the dwarves reclaim their kingdom.
Rounding out of the popcorn-flicks of the season is the Dec. 20 opening of the long-awaited sequel to 2004’s “Anchorman.”
“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” follows the Channel 4 news team as they try to regain relevancy in the 1980s. Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, David Koechner and Steve Carell all return.
For the more highbrow audiences, there’s still plenty to look forward to throughout the fall.
Alfonso Cuaron wrote, produced, edited and directed “Gravity,” which will be in theaters Oct. 4. The film hosts stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as two astronauts who are stranded in space with limited air, and is already getting Oscar talk.
October 18 sees the opening of “The Fifth Estate,” the Bill Condon-directed biopic of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Assange with Daniel Bruhl as the group’s spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg.
Another biographical film is “The Wolf of Wall Street,” coming on Nov. 5. Martin Scorsese directs Leonardo DiCaprio as a Wall Street stockbroker involved in a huge securities fraud case.
“American Hustle,” to be released on Dec. 25, is generating a lot of attention with its all-star cast and crew. The director (David O. Russell) and stars (Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence) of the Oscar-winning “Silver Linings Playbook” collaborate again with some excellent additions, including Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Robert De Niro. The film follows a huge FBI sting operation into stolen property and public corruption.
Rounding out the Oscar-bait of the year is perennial Oscar-nominee Meryl Streep with her movie “August: Osage County.” Also debuting on Dec. 25, Streep is joined by an ensemble featuring Julia Roberts. The dark comedy film follows a dysfunctional Southern family as it deals with a tragedy.
With a few high-quality action flicks and the requisite Oscar-hunger dramas, there’s something for every audience.