Season movie preview: ‘Skyfall’ and ‘The Hobbit’ guarantee a winning movie season

From staff, wire reportsOctober 19, 2012 

There is almost enough to get excited about this fall/winter movie season as there was this past summer. Lacking superheroes, it’s hard to compare the two seasons, but add a James Bond, a hobbit and a couple of award-winning directors, and you might just find something this fall to get pumped up about.

In our opinion, it’s perfectly OK to be just as excited about the end of the “Twilight” saga as it is to be about new movies like “Skyfall” and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the latter being made into a saga of its own with director Peter Jackson’s decision to split one book into three movies.

Director Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) is back on the scene and already stirring up some controversy with “Zero Dark Thirty,” a movie about America’s search-and-destroy mission against Osama bin Laden. (We think she’s trying too hard for another Best Director Oscar.)

Several movies are already being thrown about in the same sentences as Academy Award for Best Picture, like “Lincoln,” yet another remake of “Les Miserables” and two aforementioned movies, “The Hobbit” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Here is a list of the films heading our way from now through December. Dates are subject to change and not all movies may be showing at area theaters:

OCT. 19

•  “Alex Cross”: Tyler Perry sets aside the Madea drag to play the detective of James Patterson’s best-selling novels, on the trail of a psychotic serial killer (Matthew Fox). Rated PG-13. (See the review on Page 10.)

•  “Paranormal Activity 4”: More spooky things go bump in the night at sudden moments. Rated R.

OCT. 26

•  “Chasing Mavericks”: A surfer (Jonny Weston) embarks on a quest to ride the dangerous Northern California waves known as Mavericks. Rated PG.

•  “Cloud Atlas”: The fall’s most ambitious (and craziest, in a good way) film is an adaptation of David Mitchell’s seemingly unfilmable novel, with Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant playing multiple roles in interlocking stories set during different time periods. Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) and Larry and Lana Wachowski (“The Matrix”) shared the directing duties. Rated R.

•  “Fun Size”: Victoria Justice stars as a teen planning to attend a big Halloween bash when she’s asked by her parents to look after her little brother – who almost immediately disappears. NYR.

•  “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D”: After the death of her father, a girl is drawn into an alternate universe replete with monsters and spirits. Rated R.

NOV. 2

•  “A Late Quartet”: A renowned string quartet (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Jeremy Northam and Christopher Walken) try to keep it together despite illness, death, egos and affairs. Rated R.

•  “Flight”: Director Robert Zemeckis’ first live-action movie since 2000’s “Cast Away” stars Denzel Washington as an airline pilot whose past comes back to haunt him after he becomes a hero for saving the lives of his passengers during a disastrous flight. Rated R,

•  “The Man with the Iron Fists”: Wu-Tang Clan member RZA makes his directorial debut with this martial arts adventure (co-written by “Hostel’s” Eli Roth) about a blacksmith (Russell Crowe) who must help defend his small village from attackers in feudal China. Kanye West and The Black Keys contributed to the soundtrack, and Quentin Tarantino served as a consultant. Oh, and it’s also in 3-D. How’s that for eclectic? Rated R.

•  “This Must Be the Place”: After the death of his father, a retired rock star (Sean Penn) living in Dublin returns to the United States to track down the Nazi war criminal his dad was chasing down. NYR.

•  “Wreck-It Ralph”: The villain (voiced by John C. Reilly) of an old-school 1980s arcade video game (think Donkey Kong, only not exactly) tires of always being the bad guy and starts to sneak into other video games to play the hero. Judging by the trailer, this one is going to be huge. Rated PG.

NOV. 9

•  “Skyfall”: Expectations are high for the 23rd installment in the James Bond series, with Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney joining the returning Daniel “007” Craig for director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”), who is trying his hand at action for the first time. Rated PG-13.

•  “Lincoln”: Director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner adapt Doris Kearns Goodwin’s critically acclaimed book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.” Daniel Day-Lewis stars as the 16th president during his final months in office. Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader and Tommy Lee Jones round out the supporting cast. Can you say “Oscars all over the place?” Rated PG-13.

NOV. 16

•  “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2”: How is the vampire Bella (Kristen Stewart) adapting to motherhood and marriage to her longtime beau Edward (Robert Pattinson)? Why is the werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) so fascinated by their infant daughter? And what will happen when the legion of elder vampires known as the Voltari come to claim the couple’s baby? Bill Condon, who directed the previous film, returns for the final installment in the record-setting franchise. Rated PG-13.

•  “Anna Karenina”: Based on Leo Tolstoy’s novel, Keira Knightley and Jude Law star in this movie that also features “Boardwalk Empire”’s Kelly Macdonald. Rated R.

NOV. 21

•  “Life of Pi”: Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain”) adapts Yann Martel’s best-selling novel about the son of an Indian zookeeper who is stranded on a lifeboat with an assortment of wild animals, including a 450-pound Bengal tiger. The trailer is astonishing. NYR.

•  “Rise of the Guardians”: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and other legendary titans must join forces to fight off an evil spirit that threatens to spoil the innocence of children the world over. Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin and Jude Law provide the voices. Rated PG.

•  “Silver Linings Playbook”: David O. Russell (“The Fighter,” “Three Kings”) directs this drama about a former schoolteacher (Bradley Cooper) who tries to move on with his life after a stint in a mental institution. Robert De Niro plays his dad, Julia Stiles is his ex-wife and Jennifer Lawrence is a mysterious girl who changes everything. NYR.

NOV. 30

•  “Killing Them Softly”: Directed by Andrew Dominik (“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”), this crime thriller starring Brad Pitt and Ray Liotta follows an enforcer who is probing a heist that happened during a poker game. Rated R.

DEC. 7

•  “Hyde Park on Hudson”: Bill Murray and Laura Linney star in this love affair story between Franklin D. Roosevelt and a distant cousin. Rated R.

•  “Playing for Keeps”: While slighty star-studded (Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Dennis Quaid and Catherine Zeta-Jones), there seems to be nothing original about this movie, which is about a struggling star athlete who opts to coach his son’s soccer team to try and get his life back on track. Rated PG-13.

•  “Deadfall”: After a casino robbery goes badly, two siblings try to make it on their own and end up at another family’s Thanksgiving celebration. Rated R.

DEC. 14

•  “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”: At last. Consider this the prequel to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Or, at least part one of the prequel. Peter Jackson returns to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien to follow the story of Bilbo Baggins, Frodo’s uncle, as he goes on a quest with Gandalf and some dwarves to save treasure stolen by Smaug, the dragon. Look for the same faces from “Lord of the Rings,” such as Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis as Smeagle. NYR.

DEC. 21

“This is 40”: A sequel you weren’t expecting, this movie is a follow-up of sorts to “Knocked Up,” except it follows that movie’s secondary characters’ lives, Pete and Debbie. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann return in Judd Apatow’s creation, as does Jason Segel, but Melissa McCarthy is thrown into the mix. Expect some laughs. Rated R.

“Zero Dark Thirty”: This action-thriller follows the 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden, culminating with his death in May 2011. Directed by Oscar-winning Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) and starring Chriss Pratt and Jessica Chastain, this movie is already generating quite a bit of controversy. NYR.

•  “Jack Reacher”: Whether or not you agree with the casting of Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, you’ll probably see this movie if you’re a Lee Child fan. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie (“Valkyrie”), this movie will be the test to see if audiences can stomach Cruise as Reacher. If so, expect more movies to come. Rated PG-13.

•  “Monsters, Inc. 3D”: Originally released in 2001, Disney Pixar are continuing their new trend of re-releasing successful movies from their past in 3D. Earlier this year, “Finding Nemo” was re-released and did well; expect nothing less from this one. Rated G.

DEC. 28

•  “Django Unchained”: While the pairing up of director Quentin Tarantino and Christoph Waltz again might have been enough for you, throw Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx into the mix of a western drama, and it might not get any better. NYR.

•  “Les Miserables (2012)”: Director Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”) has taken on a monster in this newest take of Victor Hugo’s well-known book that has also been a Broadway play and at least two other movies. This one stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter. NYR.

•  “The Guilt Trip”: This comedy stars Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand. Yep, you read that right. Rogen is an inventor and Streisand is his mother. They take a road trip together to sell his latest invention. Who knows what could happen. NYR.

•  “Parental Guidance”: Billy Crystal and Bette Midler are cast as grandparents asked to look after their three grandchildren when mom (Marisi Tomei) has to go out of town. Billy Crystal = guaranteed laughs. NYR.

Caroline Evans contributed to this story.

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