Oct. 26--There will be an interesting mixture of new movies hitting local theaters over the next two months.
This holiday season, the lineup includes big-budget, family-friendly offerings guaranteed to pack theaters during breaks at Thanksgiving and Christmas. At the same time, movies with a more serious edge -- the kind that make Oscar voters take notice -- also will open.
It's such an interesting mix that it could mean a new take on the words for "The 12 Days of Christmas." There will be "12 Years a Slave," 11 snowy scenes in "Frozen," 10 whining kids in "Delivery Man," nine cool bow shots in "Catching Fire," eight Harrison Ford snarls in "Ender's Game," seven snappy comebacks by Madea, six huge stars in "American Hustle" ... gold "Hobbit" rings ... fourth actor playing Jack Ryan, three counts in "Grudge Match," number two "Anchorman" movie and a Norse god in a perilous city.
Here are some of the movies opening in theaters between now and Christmas.
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Harrison Ford
Director: Gavin Hood
Plot: A teen has the powers to save the world from an alien threat.
My take: Will appeal to fans of the books and will be "Game" over for others.
Stars: Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Plot: Four longtime buddies reunite in Las Vegas for a bachelor party.
My take: What's filmed in Vegas should stay in Vegas.
Stars: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler
Director: Jimmy Hayward
Plot: Two turkeys travel through time to change the Thanksgiving menu.
My take: Won't gobble up big box office numbers.
"Thor: The Dark World"
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Director: Alan Taylor
Plot: Thor and Loki join forces to stop a major threat.
My take: Won't cause as much box office thunder and lightning as the first movie.
"12 Years a Slave"
Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender
Director: Steve McQueen
Plot: Free man in the pre-Civil War era is kidnapped and made to work as a slave.
My take: Powerful story that will be a force at this year's Oscars.
"The Best Man Holiday"
Stars: Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall
Director: Malcolm Lee
Plot: College friends get together during the Christmas holidays.
My Take: I now pronounce this a holiday treat if it is as good as "The Best Man."
"The Book Thief"
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson
Director: Brian Percival
The plot: A young girl deals with the horrors of World War II by stealing books.
My take: Look for Oscar buzz around film and actors.
"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson
Director: Francis Lawrence
Plot: Katniss Everdeen must return to fight in the Games.
My take: Reaction will be warm but no box office bonfire.
"Dallas Buyers Club"
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto
Director: Jean-Marc Vall e
Plot: Texas electrician figures out a way to get HIV medication.
My take: McConaughey and Leto make this an Oscar contender.
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders
Director: Ken Scott
Plot: A man learns he's fathered 533 children through sperm donations.
My take: It depends on whether the funny Vince Vaughn shows up or not.
Stars: Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson
Director: Kasi Lemmons
Plot: Street-wise teen embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey.
My Take: Success depends on how well the Langston Hughes play is adapted for the screen.
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad
Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Plot: A young woman must save a kingdom from eternal winter.
My take: Icy setting will leave some very cold.
"Out of the Furnace"
Cast: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson
Director: Scott Cooper
Plot: A man must decide between his own freedom or clearing his brother's name.
My take: This film would have done much better opening at a less jolly time of the year.
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Cate Blanchett
Director: Peter Jackson
Plot: Bilbo Baggins continues his quest to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.
My take: Loyal fans will come but won't think it's precious.
"Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas"
Cast: Tyler Perry
Director: Tyler Perry, Alicia Witt, Chad Michael Murray
Plot: Madea goes with a friend to pay her daughter a surprise visit for Christmas.
My take: Perry's got a proven track record with hitting the right emotional notes.
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams
Director: David O. Russell
Plot: Con man is forced to work for an FBI agent.
My take: Cooper and Lawrence were magical in "Silver Linings Playbook."
"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues"
Cast: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd
Director: Adam McKay
Plot: San Diego TV personality is back behind the desk.
My take: Only works if the jokes aren't reruns.
"Saving Mr. Banks"
Cast: Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson
Director: John Lee Hancock
Plot: Walt Disney looks to bring "Mary Poppins" to the big screen.
My take: With Hanks, the movie should be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit"
Cast: Chris Pine, Kenneth Branagh, Keira Knightley
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Plot: Jack Ryan uncovers a plot by his employer to back a terrorist attack.
My take: Pine's no Harrison Ford, or Ben Affleck, or Adam Baldwin. OK, maybe he's a Ben Affleck.
Cast: Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin Hart
Director: Peter Segal
Plot: Aging boxers are coaxed out of retirement.
My take: Italian Stallion vs. Raging Bull. Too bad the film's about 30 years too late.
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"
Cast: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott
Director: Ben Stiller
Plot: Daydreamer goes on a real adventure.
My take: Potential to be surprise hit of the holidays -- or I may only be daydreaming.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.
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