The fall movie season isn’t unlike the summer run before it. Yet, everything is looking better (and after Godzilla: King of the Monsters, we all deserve better). Although there are more sequels, at least they’re for movies we really want sequels to, like Zombieland, and not the likes of The Angry Birds Movie 2.
Some of the offerings are tedious. (Oh, we finally get Frozen 2? Thanks, Disney. So glad I get to hear “Let It Go” all over again.) There’s Gemini Man, in which young Will Smith beats up old Will Smith (presumably because the Fresh Prince sat through Suicide Squad and Seven Pounds like the rest of us). We also get Tom Hanks playing Mr. Rogers, and more Terminators, Jedi, and Scorsese gangsters. All that and more are below, just a few of the movie choices to close out 2019.
Rambo: Last Blood (Opens Sep. 20)
The Gist: Rambo is older, lives a quiet life, and retires without killing anyone. Just kidding.
Why It Could Succeed: Sylvester Stallone, totally in his element, is paired with the director of Get the Gringo. Never count out Sly: A fifth Rambo is risky but every Rocky since 2006 has been great!
On the Other Hand: Didn’t this franchise peak in the 1980s? If it can’t top the likes of Angel Has Fallen, Rambo won’t need to die onscreen to never come back again.
As Astra (Sep. 20)
The Gist: Brad Pitt stars in James Gray’s film about a tortured astronaut.
Why It Could Succeed: The pedigree is impressive, as Gray is a class act and the cast includes Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga, and former Space Cowboys Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland!
On the Other Hand: If it’s so good, why was it pulled from summer and dumped in September? Will it wind up like last year’s fantastic and neglected First Man?
Joker (Oct. 4)
The Gist: Joaquin Phoenix stars in director Todd Phillips’ stand-alone, all-new take on Batman’s nemesis.
Why It Could Succeed: Phoenix goes all in and The Hangover trilogy’s Phillips has made an R-rated take that re-imagines the Joker’s origin. Less Suicide Squad, more The King of Comedy.
On the Other Hand: It looks like an especially ugly film. Aside from a big opening weekend, will audiences want to see a DC Comics take on Taxi Driver? Despite the rating, kids will wind up seeing it.
Zombieland 2: Double Tap (Oct. 18)
The Gist: Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee and his crew search for more zombies and Twinkies.
Why It Could Rock: The cast and creative team behind the first film has returned. Even as the living dead genre continues to burn itself out, comic approaches to zombie tales have a great track record.
On the Other Hand: Our heroes have something far scarier than zombies to contend with. Anchorman 2, Dumb and Dumber To, and Zoolander 2 demonstrated that sure-thing comedy sequels can fail.
Terminator: Dark Fate (Nov. 1)
The Gist: It’s “Terminator 6,” except they’re now saying parts three to five didn’t happen. Whatever.
Why It Could Rock: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and James Cameron (in a producer capacity) are key ingredients who, indeed, are back. Deadpool director Tim Miller can handle big action.
On the Other Hand: Will any of the newcomers make an impression? This franchise has worn out its welcome; this could be its last chance for a respectable reboot… until they try again next time.
Doctor Sleep (Nov. 8)
The Gist: The sequel to The Shining, based on one of Stephen King’s best recent novels.
Why It Could Rock: Director Mike Flanagan is on his way to becoming the next John Carpenter (catch Oculus and Ouija: Origin of Evil). A great cast and strong source material are promising.
On the Other Hand: The trailer suggests a heavy dose of Kubrick’s Shining, not King’s. The divide between the book and the 1980 film could spell trouble for fans who like one over the other.
Ford V. Ferrari (Nov. 15)
The Gist: The story of how two men rebuilt the modern Ford racecar and challenged Ferrari on the track.
Why It Could Rock: James Mangold directs Matt Damon and Christian Bale in the lead roles. Jon Bernthal plays Lee Iacocca(!). Based on a really exciting true story.
On the Other Hand: is there enough of an audience left for such a grown-up movie? This is the last gasp of the original 20th Century Fox, before it was acquired, ransacked, and pillaged by The Mouse House.
The Irishman (Thanksgiving)
The Gist: Scorsese. De Niro. Pacino. Pesci. Netflix.
Why It Could Rock: Martin Scorsese has been working on this one for years. The Jimmy Hoffa story puts him and everyone else in their element. Harvey Keitel and Sebastian Maniscalco are in this, too!
On the Other Hand: Netflix could once again give this a confused identity (is it a streaming-TV movie or a theatrical release?), which plagued Roma last year. The CGI aging of the cast isn’t looking good.
A Hidden Life (Dec. 13)
The Gist:The true story of Franz Yagerstatter, an Austrian who stood up to the Nazis and refused to join.
Why It Could Rock: Director Terrence Malick’s latest is said to be his most accessible and inspired audiences at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Reportedly, it’s very moving and extremely timely.
On the Other Hand: Malick is an acquired taste for some (in the same way most people loathe eating vegetables) and there’s no one in the cast to lure casual filmgoers.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Dec. 20)
The Gist: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
Why It Could Rock: Three words: It’s Star Wars.
On the Other Hand: The caustic reception to the daring, risk-taking The Last Jedi and the audience abandonment of Solo signifies a constant truth: Fanboys are very, very hard on these movies.
Images courtesy IMDB