Fall 2012 Movie Preview: The Master, Looper, Skyfall, and Other Key Films

  • Publish Date: September 6, 2012
  • Comments: ↓ 2 user comments

September's key releases

September 7 | Directed by Leslye Headland

This black comedy hit from Sundance is already making waves as the first movie ever to reach #1 on the iTunes VOD sales chart before reaching theaters (it went on sale a month ago). With that title and a female-centric storyline involving a group of women behaving badly on the eve of a wedding, comparisons to Bridesmaids seem inevitable, though this comedy pushes the limits of unpleasantness even more than that 2011 hit did. Rebel Wilson, who co-starred in Bridesmaids, plays the bride here, while the cast is headed by Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, James Marsden, and reunited Party Down stars Lizzy Caplan and Adam Scott. Reviewers at Sundance had major problems with the film's ending (as well as its off-putting nastiness), but some also found things to like.

Dredd 3D Watch Trailer
September 21 | Directed by Pete Travis

English director Pete Travis (Vantage Point 40) helms this second attempt to bring British comic book hero Judge Dredd to the big screen, following the 1995 Sylvester Stallone dud Judge Dredd. Alex Garland (28 Days Later 73, Never Let Me Go 69) provides the screenplay, which he envisions as the first installment in a trilogy, while Karl Urban (Star Trek) stars as the titular hero, a one-man judge, jury, and executioner in the future dystopian metropolis Mega City One, where residents are getting hooked on a new time-distorting drug called Slo-Mo. Despite a troubled post-production process that reportedly had Travis locked out of the editing room by producers (with Garland given final cut privileges instead), early reviews have been surprisingly decent. The dark and violent 3D film also stars Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey.

Hotel Transylvania Watch Trailer
September 28 | Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky

For Sony Pictures Animation, perhaps the sixth time's the charm. Making his feature film debut, animator Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack) is the last of six directors who have been attached at various times over the past six years to this 3D computer-animated comedy project, but expect his touch to be highly visible in the finished product, which depicts a gathering of famous monsters ranging from Dracula and Frankenstein to hunchbacks, werewolves, and invisible men. The voice cast includes Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Cee Lo Green, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Fran Drescher, and Jon Lovitz. With few family-friendly films to compete with at cineplexes in September, Hotel could be a hit despite the pre-production misfires.

The Inbetweeners Movie
September 7 | Directed by Ben Palmer

Yes, that is the real cast of The Inbetweeners, and, yes, they are supposed to have English accents. Before it was remade as an MTV series, the teen comedy ran for three short seasons on the UK's E4 channel (to much acclaim), eventually being spun off into a feature film. That movie, which set box office records upon its release in Britain last year, finally comes to American theaters this week, though with a storyline revolving around a summer vacation, the movie may have been a better fit a few months ago. Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, and Joe Thomas reprise their roles from the series in The Inbetweeners Movie, which drew comparisons to American Pie (for its raunchy brand of humor) and received generally favorable reviews upon its UK release last year.

Looper Watch Trailer
September 28 | Directed by Rian Johnson

Possibly the second-most anticipated September release (see below for the top pick) among movie fans, Looper also has the potential to challenge for the title of top sci-fi film of the year, especially now with Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity delayed until 2013. Writer-director Rian Johnson has just two previous films (the highly stylized Brick 72 and The Brothers Bloom 55) to his name—though he has also directed for TV's Breaking Bad and Terriers—and here he takes on the twin challenges of a new genre and a slightly larger budget for a thought-provoking, action-filled time-travel tale about a present-day mob hitman (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who kills people sent back in time from the future, only to hesitate when one of those targets turns out to be his older self (played by Bruce Willis). Positive buzz for Looper has actually been building for a full year (thanks in part to successful early test screenings as well as effusive praise for the film from the cast), and, while time travel plots may be tricky to pull off successfully, Johnson enlisted Shane Carruth, the director of the time travel cult classic Primer 68, as a consultant. Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, and Jeff Daniels also star, and early reviews out of Toronto, where it opened this year's festival earlier this week, suggest a winner.

The Master Watch Trailer
September 14 (wide September 21) | Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

It has taken writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson five years to follow There Will Be Blood 92, but the long wait—and a series of cleverly orchestrated advance screenings—only helps to secure The Master's place as the most-anticipated movie of the fall. Long rumored to be Anderson's Scientology movie, The Master does indeed feature a mid-20th-century writer and spiritual leader reminiscent of (but by no means identical to) Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. But the focus of this meditative (i.e., languorous, atmospheric, and nuanced, rather than plot-driven) drama is on the relationship between Hoffman's character and that of an alcoholic WWII veteran played by Joaquin Phoenix, who is already being hailed as a likely Oscar nominee. With early reviews beginning to trickle in from the festival circuit, it looks like Anderson has another critic-pleasing winner that could potentially challenge for the title of best-reviewed film of 2012, even if its character study isn't quite as thrilling as the one depicted in There Will Be Blood. Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood provides the score (as he did for Anderson's previous film), and The Master will screen in selected locations in 70mm—which is the way you'll want to see this visually stunning film, if you can. Amy Adams, Laura Dern, and Jesse Plemons also star.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Watch Trailer
September 21 | Directed by Stephen Chbosky

An adaptation of Stephen Chbosky's hit young adult novel from the late 1990s, Perks is directed by the author himself, making his directorial debut. As in the book, the story revolves around a shy high school freshman (Logan Lerman of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) who receives guidance from a pair of upperclassmen (Harry Potter's Emma Watson and Ezra Miller from We Need to Talk About Kevin). The teen drama is preceded by positive early buzz, as well as comparisons to The Breakfast Club.

Trouble with the Curve Watch Trailer
September 21 | Directed by Robert Lorenz

Younger moviegoers may know him more as a director, or as that addled old man who berates empty chairs, but many fans of Clint Eastwood will always consider him an actor first, even if he hasn't appeared on camera much over the past decade. Trouble with the Curve, which he did not direct, is Eastwood's first starring role in four years, and it finds him playing an aging baseball scout with failing eyesight who reluctantly brings his daughter (Amy Adams) along on his final assignment for the Atlanta Braves. Justin Timberlake and John Goodman also star for first-time director Robert Lorenz, who has produced many of Eastwood's recent films.

All September releases by date

Friday, September 7

Bachelorette: See above.

Known for his work on Pee Wee's Playhouse and the Peter Gabriel video "Big Time," artist and designer Wayne White is profiled in the entertaining documentary Beauty Is Embarrassing LIMITED.

Leelee Sobieski faces a corporation-dominated future in the sci-fi thriller Branded LIMITED.

Bruce Willis, Henry Cavill, and Sigourney Weaver star in The Cold Light of Day , an action-thriller from JCVD director Mabrouk El Mechri.

Detropia LIMITED examines the collapse of the city of Detroit and the residents fighting for its recovery.

Fred Schepisi directs an adaptation of Patrick White's novel The Eye of the Storm LIMITED starring Geoffrey Rush, Charlotte Rampling, and Judy Davis.

Director Todd Louiso (The Marc Pease Experience) gets a terrific lead performance from Melanie Lynskey in his rom-com Hello I Must Be Going LIMITED, but critics at Sundance found the overall film lacking.

The Inbetweeners Movie: See above.

Keep the Lights On LIMITED, from writer-director Ira Sachs (Forty Shades of Blue), is a semi-autobiographical look at the complicated relationship between two men over the course of a decade; critics applauded the film when it screened at Sundance.

Raiders of the Lost Ark will get a one-week run in IMAX theaters to celebrate the release of a new Blu-ray box set containing all four films in the series.

Prequel [REC] 3: Genesis LIMITED concludes the Spanish horror franchise.

An author (Bradley Cooper) runs into trouble when he plagiarizes another man's work in The Words, which received mixed-to-negative reviews at its Sundance premiere earlier this year.

Friday, September 14

A group of one-time high school friends (including Channing Tatum and Justin Long) get together for their reunion in the drama 10 Years LIMITED.

Richard Gere delivers a knockout performance as an ethically challenged hedge fund manager scrambling to avoid a Madoff-like downfall in Nicholas Jarecki's thriller Arbitrage LIMITED, which earned decent reviews at Sundance.

Finding Nemo is the latest Pixar classic to get a 3D theatrical re-release.

The second film written and directed by How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor, dramedy Liberal Arts LIMITED finds a 35-year-old man (Radnor) returning to speak at his alma mater and falling for a 19-year-old coed (Elizabeth Olsen).

The Master LIMITED: See above.

The fifth film in the videogame-turned-movie franchise (average Metascore so far: 36.5), Resident Evil: Retribution returns director Paul W.S. Anderson and star Milla Jovovich.

Nicolas Cage stars as a frantic man whose daughter has been Taken—make that Stolen LIMITED—in a thriller directed by Simon West (Con Air).

Step Up to the Plate NY profiles legendary French chef Michel Bras.

Tuesday, September 18

Pitchers R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield, baseball's last two masters of the elusive Knuckleball LIMITED/VOD, are profiled in a documentary.

Friday, September 21

A group of 17 Girls LIMITED from the same high school make a pact to get pregnant at the same time, shocking the coastal French town in which they live.

Ashley Hinshaw stars as a high schooler who seeks a career in the adult film world (under the guidance of Heather Graham) in indie drama About Cherry LIMITED.

Failing to make the Olympic team, a rower pursues a new career as a coach in Backwards LIMITED, starring Sarah Megan Thomas and James Van Der Beek.

Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best LIMITED follows the travels of an eccentric two-man indie band (Ryan O'Nan and Michael Weston; the former also writes and directs).

Fashion doc Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel LIMITED looks at the life of the former editor of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.

Dredd 3D: See above.

LAPD officers Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena patrol the mean streets of South Central L.A. in End of Watch.

Elisabeth Shue and daughter Jennifer Lawrence discover that their new House at the End of the Street might be cursed by a past murder.

How to Survive a Plague LIMITED recounts the rise of AIDS activist groups in the 1980s.

A young Israeli man discovers that he was accidentally switched at birth—with a Palestinian—in The Other Son LIMITED.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower LIMITED: See above.

In the restaurant world, no honor holds more weight than Three Stars NY from the Michelin guides, and this documentary profiles 10 chefs from around the world who have achieved that elite ranking.

Trouble with the Curve: See above.

Hijinks ensue when a pet photographer (Dave Annable) is forced to marry a Croatian mobster's daughter (Katharine McPhee) in You May Not Kiss the Bride LIMITED.

Wednesday, September 26

Documentary The Waiting Room LIMITED spends a day in the crowded emergency room of an Oakland public hospital.

Friday, September 28

In the drama Bringing Up Bobby LIMITED, a European con artist (Milla Jovovich) attempts to start a new life in Oklahoma with her 10-year-old son, only to have her past catch up to her.

After sitting on the shelf for three years, director Joe Dante's first film since 2003's Looney Tunes: Back in Action, The Hole LIMITED, finally finds its way into theaters; the 3D fantasy adventure centers on a family that investigates a mysterious passageway in their basement.

Hotel Transylvania: See above.

Looper: See above.

The Other Dream Team LIMITED looks at Lithuania's bronze medal-winning 1992 Olympic basketball squad.

James Purefoy plays 16th century killing machine Solomon Kane LIMITED in a fantasy adventure based on the stories by Robert E. Howard (best known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian).

French-Canadian comedy Starbuck LIMITED centers on a man who discovers that he has fathered 533 children, thanks to years of sperm donations.

Moms Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis Won't Back Down when faced with the seemingly insurmountable challenge of trying to rebuild a failing inner-city school.

On the next pages ...

Turn the page to get a look at films due in October, followed by November releases.

Comments (2)

  • Critic2012  

    Note to the Metacritic editors- Paul Dano was in THERE WILL BE BLOOD (92). THAT should be his highest Metascore, not Meek's Cutoff (85).

  • JUIKER  

    So, what is Skyfall then??

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