Let’s face it, Summer 2016 was hardly a vintage season for cinema. When the two most talked about films of the summer -“Ghostbusters” and “Suicide Squad”- were also two of the most disliked and future classics were conspicuously absent from theaters, it’s almost a relief that popcorn season has come to an end. But as the nights draw in and temperatures cool (hopefully tempers too), here are the 10 movies coming to theaters this fall that should reinvigorate our love for movies.
The latest addition to the genetically-modified-killer-girl sub-genre (“Species”, “Hanna”, “Splice”), this directorial debut from Luke Scott, son of Ridley, concerns the diminutive Kate Mara deciding the fate of the psychic and possibly psychopathic lab rat, Morgan. Based on a script from the 2014 Black List and backed by a stellar supporting cast of Paul Giamatti, Tobey Jones, and the resurgent Jennifer Jason Leigh, “Morgan” promises quality performances and dialogue as well as dark thrills and scares.
Release Date: September 2, 2016
2. BLAIR WITCH
Marketed for a whole year as “The Woods”, the surprise revelation that it was actually a Blair Witch sequel came at this year’s Comic-Con to delight fans of the 1999 original. Directed by Adam Wingard -who has pedigree in the horror genre with “You’re Next” and “V/H/S” on his CV- a group of teens heads back into the Black Hills Forest to search for clues of Heather Donahue & co’s disappearance 20 years prior only to find that they should have taken the legend a bit more seriously. Early word is positive with a 100% rating on RT.com so far, it will hopefully go a long way to making up for the first abortive sequel “Book of Shadows”.
Release Date: September 16, 2016
3. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Yes, it’s another remake but then so was the classic 1960 film this revisionist western is based on. Also, 2007’s “3:10 to Yuma” showed makeovers of classic westerns can find an audience in the 21st century, so there are reasons to be hopeful for Antoine Fuqua’s all-star version of the eponymous possé defending a besieged village from raiders. It should be worth watching just to see the chemistry between Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, who will no doubt be vying to show who has the biggest excess of charisma.
Release Date: September 23, 2016
4. MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN
“Directed by Tim Burton” isn’t much of a recommendation these days. The director’s transition from gothic visionary to studio hack has left many a promising project reduced to mediocrity over the last decade. However, a script from the always reliable Jane Goldman (“Kick Ass”, “X-Men: First Class”) based on a best-selling novel by Ransom Riggs about a group of supernatural misfit children cast out from the world means that Burton should have the writing and subject matter to inspire him to up his game finally.
Release Date: September 30, 2016
5. A MONSTER CALLS
It’s easy (and fun) to imagine the pitch for this movie went something like this: Groot’s taller and more articulate dad helps a young boy confront and resolve the conflict of his troubled life. What looks a promising blend of Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Bridge to Terabithia; these kind of stories about childhood trauma being overcome by escaping into a beautifully realized fantasy world often impress critics so expect this topping FOTY lists come December, especially with acclaimed Spanish director, J.A. Bayona (“The Orphanage”) behind the camera and a strong cast featuring Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, and Liam Neeson, who provides the voice/growls for the arboreal giant.
Release Date: October 21, 2016
6. DOCTOR STRANGE
Either another fine example of Marvel Studios unmatched ability to embrace and fully realize their characters on screen, or another formulaic exercise in building pre-awareness for the next Avenger film. Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, Marvel Studios can’t help but generate big box office and this will be no exception. With Benedict Cumberbatch filling the shoes of the metaphysical protagonist going up against Mads Mikkelsen’s villainous, Kaecilius, expect this to be driven just as much by powerhouse performances as the space-time bending effects that will probably leave Christopher Nolan with a sense of deja vu.
Release Date: November 4, 2016
Possibly the most intriguing movie on this list: Amy Adams’ linguist must find a way to successfully communicate with Visitors inside vast monolithic ships that have appeared across the globe before they get bored and exterminate us for fun or something. Actually, this appears to be the kind of sci-fi film that’s dedicated to the verisimilitude of its subject matter and that’s encouraging from the film’s director, Denis Villeneuve, who is currently committed to direct next year’s Blade Runner sequel. With the excellent thrillers “Prisoners” and “Sicario” to his name already, the forecast for this being a thinking man’s “Independence Day” is definitely appealing.
Release Date: November 11, 2016
8. FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
In the year of Pokémon Go, the premise of an awkward nerd running around New York trying to collect strange creatures seems remarkably on trend. Indeed, Warners’ marketing department could not have asked for a better concept to sell this on. Not that J.K. Rowling’s universe ever needs any help in theaters -the Harry Potter franchise is still the second most successful of all time- and even without the Boy Who Lived, “Fantastic Beasts…” is guaranteed to be a monster hit.
Release Date: November 18, 2016
9. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
After the rejuvenating effect of last year’s “The Force Awakens”, Disney now seem to be exorcising the franchise’s biggest demon, George Lucas’ dreadful prequels, by making a prequel of their own. This time, though, we seem to be getting a story that actually supports and ties into the original hallowed trilogy rather than obtusely subverting it like Episodes 1-3 did. The plot of how the Death Star plans were originally stolen and the tantalizing return of a non-whiny Vader should almost certainly give Disney their hattrick of billion dollar plus grosses this year.
Release Date: December 16, 2016
10. ASSASSIN’S CREED
Video game movies, don’t you just love them? No, probably not since not a single one of them to date has come remotely close to being as fun or involving as its interactive counterpart. Trying to address the tiresome incompetency of the genre, 20th Century Fox has sought the services of proper thespians, Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard, and a director who’s done a Shakespeare to show that they’re taking this one seriously. There is a vague sense of optimism surrounding this adaptation since the era spanning battle between the Assassins and Templars always had a certain cinematic presentation in Ubisoft’s games and now we get to enjoy it without having to suffer cramp from holding the R2 button down for hours on end.
Release Date: December 21, 2016