Friday, September 5, 2014

Film Friday: Fall Movie Preview

The fall movie season has historically been one lined with awards contenders, but this year, the autumn months will also be stuffed to the brim with book-to-film adaptations.

The Maze Runner (U.S. theatrical release: Sept. 19)
The era of young adult dystopian adaptations continues with this adaptation of the James Dashner novel, starring Dylan O'Brien from MTV's Teen Wolf series in the lead role. The plot is more solitary than Divergent or The Hunger Games, though, as a group of teens try to escape from the middle of a giant maze they've been trapped inside. According to reports, the film only cost studio 20th Century Fox $30 million for its budget. For comparison, Fox's summer adaptation of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars has gone on to gross more than $280 million worldwide on a $16 million budget, crazy low by summer blockbuster standards. The producers of "Stars" are also shepherding this project and seem to have their finger on the pulse of these young adult adaptations in what I'm sure Fox is hoping becomes a franchise. The newest trailers show a lot of promise.

This is Where I Leave You (Sept. 19)
Writer Jonathan Tropper wrote the screenplay and produced this adaptation of his 2009 bestseller about a family sitting Shiva, a Jewish mourning ritual, in the wake of the death of the patriarch. With an all-star cast led by Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, Tina Fey and Adam Driver among others, the film has made some alterations from the novel (the family's last name is now Altman, not Foxman like in the book), but with Tropper writing the script I wouldn't expect any dramatic changes from the source material.

A Walk Among the Tombstones (Sept. 19)
Based on a 1992 book by Lawrence Block, the film follows private detective Matthew Scudder as he tries to find the missing wife of a drug dealer. According to reports, Block has said star Liam Neeson is an ideal choice to play Scudder, even going so far as to tell The Wrap, "My book's in good hands." However, the trailer has already framed the movie as a "Taken"-style revenge thriller. At a recent movie screening, a friend of mine who is unaware of the book turned to me after watching the trailer and said, "That one's a renter." Judge for yourself and take a look at the trailer:

Gone Girl (Oct. 3)
The cast of this film is outstanding (Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris), the script is being written by Gillian Flynn herself, and David Fincher is directing. Sounds like an awfully good combination. Given the book's narrative structure of bouncing back and forth between the perspectives of husband Nick and wife Amy, it isn't surprising that the film will deviate from it, though rumors are swirling that the ending is being re-tooled as well. Any way Flynn does it, the book is in very capable hands and it wouldn't surprise me if the movie is both a box office hit (budget of only $50 million) and an Oscar contender.

Left Behind (Oct. 3)
I admit it, I read most of the Left Behind series when I was in junior high and early high school. I lasted to book 9, Desecration, out of the initial 12 books before I opted not to continue. When the first film adaptation came out, starring former Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron, it was a cheeseball movie. Given that the premise of the series, two authors' fictionalized opinions about how the Book of Revelation could unfold, can be seen by some as cheesy or goofy to begin with, enlisting Nicolas Cage as Rayford Steele was probably not the best call. Having said that, the supporting cast is a bit better than I thought it would be.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Oct. 10)
In what figures to be a heavily reworked version of Judith Viorst's 1972 classic, Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner star in a comedy about a boy's horrible day. In the book, Alexander wakes up with bubble gum in his hair and his day gets progressively worse, but in the film's trailer, the hijinks are leveled on the other family members. I remember reading the book as a child and have been split on whether or not to see this one.

Big Hero 6 (Nov. 7)
Very loosely based on the Marvel Comics team that debuted in 1998 and was later the subject of a 2008 miniseries, this animated film has already garnered a following online with its trailers and clips. A boy and his robot companion venture into a world of superheroes as a villainous figure tries to take over San Fransokyo, a colorful mashup of San Francisco and Tokyo. If you're going into this film with the hopes of an Avengers cameo, the director told Total Film this summer that the universe of Big Hero 6 would act as a stand-alone world separate from the other Marvel films. The movie is one of the top five films I'm most looking forward to for the rest of the year. Here's the latest clip, which debuted Sunday during a "Frozen" special on ABC:

Rosewater (Nov. 7)
Based on the 2011 memoir Then They Came for Me by Maziar Bahari, the film tells Bahari's story of being held captive by the Iranian government for more than 100 days after the 2009 election. The film has been getting buzz for being directed by Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" fame, but the film's crew and subject matter suggest a good movie as well and apparently critics have given it generally favorable reviews after debuting last week at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado (current Rotten Tomatoes rating is 89%).

The Theory of Everything (Nov. 7)
Despite the title, the movie is not necessarily based on Stephen Hawking's 1983 book, but rather on his wife's memoir Travelling to Infinity. Starring Eddie Redmayne, who was last seen by most audiences as Marius in the excellent 2012 adaptation of Les Miserables, and Felicity Jones, the film will show Redmayne as theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking during his time studying at Cambridge, falling in love and being diagnosed with a motor neuron disease. The movie is set to debut this weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival. Here is the trailer, which debuted to big Internet buzz last month:

Is there a film based on a book you are most looking forward to this fall?

No comments:

Post a Comment