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Previewing 2016's fall films

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A look ahead at some autumn offerings

The summer blockbuster season has come and gone; 2016 proved to be a bit of a disappointment to many, though the season saw its share of successful films.

But now we're on to fall. A few of autumn's better options have already hit the big screen films like 'Sully' and 'Snowden' could generate a little awards buzz for their directors (Clint Eastwood and Oliver Stone) and/or their stars (Tom Hanks and Joseph Gordon-Levitt). A couple of high-profile sequels 'Bridget Jones's Baby' and 'Blair Witch' have also arrived more than a decade after their immediate predecessors.

But that's just the beginning. Here's a look at just some of the films that the fall of 2016 has to offer. This isn't all of them, of course; however, it's an interesting cross-section, featuring movies that run the wide-release gamut.

And now our 2016 fall movie preview.

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The Magnificent Seven (Sept. 23)

It shouldn't be much of a surprise that we're at the point of remaking remakes of remakes. But this one looks promising director Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington have had considerable anti-heroic success in their previous collaborations ('Training Day' and 'The Equalizer'). Plus, the rest of the cast looks dynamite, with Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio and more.

This story of bad guys threatening a town, leading the town to hire arguably worse guys to protect them, has already produced two cinematic classics 1960's 'The Magnificent Seven' and the film that inspired it, Akira Kurosawa's 1954 masterpiece 'Seven Samurai.' This one probably won't scale those heights, but with this cast and crew, you can feel confident that it will be a solid action offering, filled with plenty of action and Old-West wit.

Deepwater Horizon (Sept. 30)

The trend of turning relatively recent events into movies continues with this one from director Peter Berg. He has shown a knack for turning real life into films containing both insightfulness and popcorn-munching action with movies like 'Lone Survivor.' He continues that trend with this one while also reuniting with that film's star, Mark Wahlberg.

'Deepwater Horizon' is about the massive oil spill that took place back in 2010. To be frank, it doesn't seem like the sort of story that invites an action-packed retelling, but that's not going to stop a director like Berg. If the high-octane trailer is any indication, Berg and Wahlberg along with notables like Kurt Russell and John Malkovich have given us what could well turn out to be a first-rate disaster movie.

Masterminds (Sept. 30)

You might remember this one from the 'Other films of note' section from my 2015 Summer Movie Preview. That's because the film directed by Jared Hess of 'Napoleon Dynamite' fame has been floating in limbo due to financial issues with its production company. Still, while the delay isn't the fault of the movie, it still doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence in terms of quality.

There are reasons for optimism; it certainly has an excellent cast, with Zach Galifinakis, Owen Wilson and a whole mess of 'SNL' alums Kristin Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones among them. Still, movies that are promoted, then vanish for a year before suddenly popping back onto the schedule don't tend to be great ones. This might be the rare exception, but my guess is that this one is a bit of a flop.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Sept. 30)

Tim Burton's filmography over the past few years has been a bit checkered in terms of overall quality, though his trademark visual vividness has never wavered. 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' has all the signs of being a big bounceback effort. Burton at his best when he's given quality material with which to work; this film adapted from the Ransom Riggs novel of the same name looks to be just that.

The story follows a young man who winds up at an orphanage devoted to 'peculiar' children that is, children with qualities and abilities beyond those of ordinary people. Burton has always shined when dealing with outsiders particularly young outsiders so this one is definitely promising. It's a great cast, with Asa Butterfield, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson and Allison Janney among others; the absence of Burton mainstays Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter is probably for the best.

The Girl on the Train (Oct. 7)

This film is based on the novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins, a wildly popular bestseller whose twists and turns provided plenty of thrills for readers. It's no surprise that this story is being brought onto the big screen. It's an interesting project for director Tate Taylor, whose biggest success thus far was another literary adaptation albeit a VERY different one in 'The Help.'

The story follows a woman who may or may not have information that impacts a high-profile missing-persons case. Word is that some changes were made in the adaptation to allow those already familiar with the book's twists to be subject to a few new surprises. Emily Blunt stars; she's tailor-made for this sort of role. The obvious comparison here is to 'Gone Girl,' and if 'The Girl on the Train' can manage a fraction of that film's intensity, it'll be a winner.

The Accountant (Oct. 14)

I'm not sure what to make of this one. The level of talent involved is exceptional Ben Affleck stars, joined by Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow and Jon Bernthal. Gavin O'Connor, who has shown an ability to craft thoughtful and compelling drama, is in the director's chair on this one; it's perhaps the filmmaker's most commercially-friendly effort since 2004's 'Miracle.'

It's an interesting concept Affleck plays a genius accountant who is brought in to help uncook the books of illicit operations; his skill set also includes soldier/spy-type stuff as well but the potential for it to fly off the rails is pretty high. Still, O'Connor has shown an almost uncanny ability to bring forth excellent performances from his casts regardless of circumstance; with his steady hand on the wheel, 'The Accountant' could be an engaging, active thriller.

Keeping Up with the Joneses (Oct. 21)

The whole 'spy next door' trope has been taken to new dramatic heights thanks to the FX series 'The Americans.' But it's a concept with a lot of comedic potential potential that has remained largely untapped. This movie might have what it takes to reach that potential; director Greg Mottola has some solid comedy bona fides with films like 'Superbad' and 'Adventureland' under his belt.

What really makes 'Keeping Up with the Joneses' look special, however, is its cast. Zach Galifinakis and Isla Fisher as your average suburban couple; Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot as the new neighbors/government spiesthere's a whole lot to like here. Add in a supporting cast featuring some solid comic actors to go with a few decent action set pieces and this one might be good.

Inferno (Oct. 28)

I love Tom Hanks as much as the next guy. And I think he has every right to try and snag a few of those sweet, sweet franchise paychecks; God knows everyone else is. Unfortunately, rather than hitch his wagon to superheroes or giant robots or even street racers, he has instead wound up relying on best-selling author Dan Brown and a terrible wig to add those extra zeroes to his net worth.

'Inferno' follows the half-decent 'The Da Vinci Code' and the not-good 'Angels and Demons' in presenting the adventures of globe-trotting, world-saving symbologist Robert Langdon. One assumes that he's going to find himself desperately trying to solve ancient riddles in an effort to thwart some sort of massive conspiracy intent on bringing about the apocalypse or something. Whatever that second beach house isn't going to pay for itself.

Doctor Strange (Nov. 4)

It's kind of amazing to think that 'Doctor Strange' is the 14th entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's even more amazing to think that this character has made his way onto the big-screen; we have yet to get much exposure to the mystical side of Marvel. It certainly opens up opportunities for a much different type of superhero film than what we have seen thus far. Director Scott Derrickson mostly known for his horror work will likely bring that sensibility to the MCU.

There will be some origin story basics here, but the trailers have offered a glimpse at a weird, vividly-realized aesthetic unlike anything we've seen in a supermovie. And the cast with Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular Doctor Strange and featuring Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Machel McAdams and Mads Mikkelsen could well be the top-to-bottom best ever assembled for a Marvel movie. The performance of this one could tell us a lot about the future possibilities of the MCU going forward.

Hacksaw Ridge (Nov. 4)

It has been a decade since Mel Gibson's last directorial effort (2006's 'Apocalypto') and he's only appeared in a handful of films largely due to a number of well-documented and unfortunate incidents that we won't recount here. However, he has slowly been making his way back on-screen; this movie might mark the beginning of an off-screen comeback.

Based on the true story of Desmond Doss, the WWII conscientious objector who received the Medal of Honor despite his refusal to carry a gun, 'Hacksaw Ridge' is the sort of period drama that could garner some awards attention for Gibson and star Andrew Garfield. The trailers we've seen so far might be a bit on the cheesy side, but they're also genuinely goosebump-raising. It's an ideal vehicle for a filmmaker on a quest for forgiveness.

Arrival (Nov. 11)

While I'm a sucker for pretty much all things science fiction, there's something to be said for more thoughtful, sophisticated sci-fi offerings. Director Denis Villeneuve might not be the guy you'd expect to tackle a first-contact film, but frankly, the dude who made 'Enemy,' 'Prisoners' and 'Sicario' can do pretty much whatever he wants and I'm in; the fact that he's in my wheelhouse makes it that much easier.

It's more complex sci-fi in the 'Close Encounters' vein; less about destructive alien invaders and more about finding ways to breach barriers of communication. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner star as a linguist and mathematician respectively, attempting to find ways to communicate with these unexpected arrivals. Early reports are glowing, although with this kind of talent involved, that's no surprise.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (Nov. 11)

This is another movie where the details are equal parts confusing and fascinating. It's an Iraq War drama, but the majority of the action takes place at halftime of a Dallas Cowboys football game where a handful of veterans are celebrated. Additionally, director Ang Lee has apparently used next-level cinematic tech to make the film it was filmed at 120 frames per second, the highest rate ever for a major release.

Oh, and it has an incredible cast Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund and Steve freaking Martin but the titular lead is played by a guy (Joe Alwyn) making his feature debut. Put it all together and it's hard to say just what we're going to get, but we can rest assured that whatever the final result, 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' is going to be something special.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Nov. 18)

Is there anyone out there who ISN'T fired up for this movie? The world of English wizardry got eight movies (plus a stage play); there are a whole lot of fans of the Potterverse dying to get a glimpse of what the magical realm on the American side of the pond might look like. And now, with David Yates director of the final four Potter films behind the camera and a screenplay by J.K. Rowling herself, we're going to get it.

Not to mention the fact that 'Fantastic Beasts' is a period piece, set in 1926 New York; all accounts thus far have indicated that the world of the film is vividly-realized and captivating. Plus, it has a phenomenal cast - Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne is protagonist Newt Scamander; he's joined by Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell, Katherine Waterston, Samantha Morton and a wealth of others. This one is going to be huge.

Moana (Nov. 23)

We couldn't in good conscience put together this kind of preview without including the latest animated Disney offering particularly when you take the pedigrees of all involved into consideration. The directorial team includes Disney legends Ron Clements and John Musker, whose work on 'The Little Mermaid' and 'Aladdin' kicked off the company's renaissance. Lin-Manuel Miranda of 'Hamilton' fame contributed original songs to the film. And everybody's favorite Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is one of the stars. It's the total package.

The story follows a young lady in the South Pacific who along with traveling companion and demigod Maui makes her way across the sea in search of a legendary island. This has all the pieces of a successful Disney outing while still feeling different enough to potentially offer audiences a new and exciting experience. This one is worth looking forward to.

Last modified on Wednesday, 21 September 2016 12:38

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