News Column

2013 fall movie preview: Cinema gets serious from 'Riddick' to 'Hunger Games'

September 6, 2013


Sept. 06--Lost at sea and lost in space. Social ills ranging from slavery to drug trafficking. Intense danger from Somali pirates, the Beltway sniper and a kidnapper of little girls.

Things just got serious at the cinema. The summer movie season is over, and fall has arrived at the multiplex.

Not that there won't be some escapist fun in the next couple of months. Bill Hader gets "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" again. "Carrie" returns for another bloody prom. Thor is back in town, and Katniss Everdeen finds that the "Hunger Games" are far from over.

The fall season offers a variety unlike other seasons, as Oscar contenders begin creeping into theaters, as well.

The following films, and their opening dates, are subject to change.



In the galaxy of science-fiction action-adventure tales of revenge, "Pitch Black" first gave us Vin Diesel's wanted man in space, followed up by "The Chronicles of Riddick" and now "Riddick," who's stranded on a desolate planet.

'The Ultimate Life'

The film bills itself as a prequel and a sequel to "The Ultimate Gift," and like that film, this edition is also based on a book by Tulsa author and entrepreneur Jim Stovall.

Sept. 13

'The Family'

Robert De Niro plays an American mob boss who, along with his wife and kids, moves to a tiny French town after he rats out his pals and his family is placed in the Witness Protection Program in this crime comedy.

'Insidious Chapter 2'

The first movie was spooky, but can a sequel deliver? Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne feature in this tale of the spirit world and a childhood secret.


Reclusive "Catcher in the Rye" author J.D. Salinger is the subject of this documentary look at his life, his legacy and some secrets that are promised to be revealed.


In this romantic comedy-fantasy, a woman (Keri Russell) who is fascinated with "Pride & Prejudice" decides that she must go to the Jane Austen theme park, where surely she will find the perfect man waiting for her.

'Ain't Them Bodies Saints'

This impressionistic drama set in 1970s Texas finds a prison escapee (Casey Affleck) struggling to return to his wife (Rooney Mara) and the child born since he's been incarcerated.

Sept. 20


A man's 6-year-old daughter and her friend go missing. The police are following leads but not fast enough for the father. Hugh Jackman is the dad, and Jake Gyllenhaal is the cop in this intense drama.

'Battle of the Year'

All the best dance teams meet at Battle of the Year. This 3-D dance-off stars Josh Holloway ("Lost") and Josh Peck ("Red Dawn"), but not everyone is named Josh.

'Afternoon Delight'

This Sundance Film Festival award-winner for drama directing tells of a stay-at-home mom (Kathryn Hahn) who plans to spice up her sex life and ends up hiring a stripper to be her live-in nanny.

'Thanks for Sharing'

A romantic comedy revolving around a collection of sex addicts? It could work with a cast that includes Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim Robbins, and from the writer of "The Kids are Alright."

Sept. 27

'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2'

Tulsa's own Bill Hader again voices Flint Lockwood in this sequel to the surprise animated hit. Expect more than meatballs.

'Baggage Claim'

Paula Patton plays a woman determined to get engaged before her sister's wedding in a month. The plan: flying around to check up on old boyfriends. With Derek Luke, Jill Scott and Taye Diggs.

'Don Jon'

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (writer and director on this one, too) plays a man whose blooming relationship with a young woman (Scarlett Johansson) is threatened by his addiction. This is embarrassing; it's Internet porn.


Ron Howard started out making low-budget movies about fast cars ("Eat My Dust," "Grand Theft Auto") in the 1970s. That's the period he returns to for a dramatization of Formula One duels between fierce rivals James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl).

'Blue Caprice'

Tulsa's Tim Blake Nelson plays a key role in this suspenseful drama based on the 2002 Beltway sniper case. Isaiah Washington stars as John Allen Muhammad, the disillusioned veteran who takes a teen under his wing.

'Metallica Through the Never'

The hard-rocking heroes get the 3-D and the giant-screen IMAX treatment in this drama/documentary: A roadie (Dane DeHaan of "Chronicle") is sent on a mission as a live performance plays on. That's different.

Oct. 4


Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are astronauts stranded in space, trying to get home in this sci-fi thriller from director Alfonso Cuaron ("Children of Men"). In 3-D and IMAX.

'Runner Runner'

When an Ivy League grad student (Justin Timberlake) feels he's been cheated, he goes after the online gambling tycoon (Ben Affleck) in Costa Rica who holds promises of even bigger paydays.

'Enough Said'

James Gandolfini's final film follows a divorced masseuse who starts falling for a guy, only to find he's her new client's ex. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Toni Collette and Catherine Keener co-star.

'Prince Avalanche'

Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch star in this minimalist bromance picture about two road workers heading into the forest to talk about stuff -- usually women -- as they work to repair roads.

Oct. 11

'Captain Phillips'

Tom Hanks plays Capt. Richard Phillips, who was at the helm of the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two centuries when Somali pirates commandeered his vessel in 2009.

'Machete Kills'

Who needs Machete (Danny Trejo) to stop an arms dealer from launching a weapon into space? No less than the president, played by Charlie Sheen, going by his real name of Carlo Estevez. It's that kind of movie.

Oct. 18


The Steven King classic is again adapted for the big screen, with Chloe Grace Moretz as confused, telekinetic Carrie and Julianne Moore as her wacko mom.

'Escape Plan'

Sylvester Stallone plays a security expert hired to see if he can break out of a new prison, only to find himself locked in. Another prisoner -- played by Arnold Schwarzenegger -- is his only hope for freedom.

'Herb & Dorothy: 50 x 50'

Herb and Dorothy Vogel, the couple who spent a lifetime collecting contemporary art with an astute eye, are the focus of another documentary -- the giving away of their collection to museums, 50 works in each of 50 states.

Oct. 25

'The Counselor'

In Ridley Scott's thriller, Michael Fassbender plays a respected lawyer with a girlfriend played by Penelope Cruz, and yet he still feels the need to dabble in drug-trafficking, which is a monumentally bad idea. Based on an original script by Cormac McCarthy ("No Country for Old Men") and co-starring Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem and Cameron Diaz.

'Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa'

Hidden-camera misadventures a la "Pranked," but R-rated and starring "Jackass" Johnny Knoxville, who is made up as a senior citizen with his grandson in tow. I smell Oscars. Or is that Ben-Gay?

Nov. 1

'Ender's Game'

Orson Scott Card's young-adult sci-fi book comes to the big-screen starring Asa Butterfield ("Hugo"), as a boy who may be humanity's best chance at survival, and Harrison Ford as a space-age military mentor.

'Free Birds'

Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson are a couple of turkeys -- animated turkeys, that is, traveling back in time to the first Thanksgiving with one goal in mind: Get the bird off the menu.

'Last Vegas'

It may be one heckuva "Hangover" when four old guys -- Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline -- head to Sin City when the group's longtime bachelor gets married.


A girl riding a bicycle? Not in Saudi Arabia, but this foreign drama follows a 10-year-old determined to raise the money needed to buy a bike.

Nov. 8

'Thor: The Dark World'

When supervillain Malekith, leader of the Dark Elves, threatens to turn the world to darkness, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must save the day in Marvel Films' latest adventure.

'About Time'

The creator of "Love Actually" and "Notting Hill" goes the time-travel route for the romantic comedy starring Rachel McAdams, Domhall Gleeson and Bill Nighy.

Nov. 15

'The Wolf of Wall Street'

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a New York stockbroker pushed to work with authorities on a massive securities fraud case involving Wall Street corruption and mob connections. Martin Scorsese directs an all-star cast.

'The Book Thief'

Based on the best-seller, "The Book Thief" is set during World War II and details a young girl's life in Nazi Germany with her foster parents, the refugee who is hiding inside their home and her beloved books.

Nov. 22

'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

Katniss Everdeen must compete in "The Hunger Games" yet again, when past participants must battle one another in an "all-star" edition of the fight-to-the-death event.


'The Fifth Estate'

Benedict Cumberbatch ("Star Trek Into Darkness") portrays Julian Assange, from his Wikileaks website and its instant fame to the later fall, seen through the eyes of Assange's early business partner.

'Romeo and Juliet'

The attractions of this latest retelling of Shakespeare's doomed lovers would be Hailee Steinfeld in the lead role and an adaptation by "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes.

'Twelve Years a Slave'

Based on the book by Solomon Northrup, a free black man in 1841 New York who was kidnapped and taken to Louisiana, where he was sold into slavery. Chiwetel Ejiofor portrays Northrup among an all-star cast including Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch.

'Kill Your Darlings'

Based on "a true story of obsession and murder," this drama brings together the Beat Generation's Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), among others.

'All is Lost'

The buzz is huge for Robert Redford to become an Oscar nominee for his performance in this intense drama about a man whose solo voyage into the Indian Ocean appears doomed when his boat is damaged, and he must fight to survive.

'Dallas Buyers Club'

Matthew McConaughey stars in this based-on-a-true-story tale of a man battling the medical establishment in 1986 when he's diagnosed with HIV, leading him to smuggle anti-viral drugs.


Naomi Watts portrays the former princess in the final years of her life and during her secret relationship with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.

Michael Smith 918-581-8479


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