The Fall Movie Preview

10 09 2010

This feature first appeared in Jet Magazine.com. To read this review at its original source, click here.

As the dog days of summer come to an end, the big-budget blockbusters begin to make way for more serious, award-caliber fare. But for the first time in a decade, there are no fall releases garnering awards buzz that showcase Black actors.

While the eight films previewed here are sure to entertain audiences, other than the screen adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s acclaimed play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” autumn’s movies lack the dramatic muscle of previous seasons. Notable fall films of the past 10 years include “Hotel Rwanda,” “Ray,” “Dreamgirls,” “American Gangster,” “Precious,” “Collateral,” “The Great Debaters” and “Training Day.” Nonetheless, sit back and enjoy some of your favorite actors in these lighter entries. 

FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF 

Stars: Janet Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Jurnee Smollett, Kimberly Elise, Kerry Washington, Anika Noni Rose, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton and Macy Gray

Skinny: Tyler Perry directs a film based on Ntozake Shange’s award-winning 1975 play, which consists of a series of poems performed through a cast of nameless women, known only by a color. It deals with such subjects as love, abandonment, rape, and abortion. It later morphed into an Emmy Award-nominated television special and is still being performed around the world.

Outlook: Perry’s life-long dream to bring this story to the screen unexpectedly was moved from early 2011 to early November to capitalize on industry buzz indicating it could be a strong Oscar contender. One year after Perry co-executive produced the award-winning drama “Precious,” his latest story once again mines familiar female-centric territory with a story revered by women worldwide. Much like Spike Lee almost 20 years earlier when he was under immense pressure to deliver a strong biopic of “Malcolm X,” Black women will be up in arms if Perry fails to capture the essence and heart of this legendary story. Lionsgate is gambling that Perry’s loyal fan base, high-profile cast and filmmaking Midas touch will make “Colored Girls” a box-office winner!

Release date: Nov. 5  

RED

Stars: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Mary-Louise Parker 

Skinny: Based on the cult D.C. Comics graphic novels by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, “RED” is an explosive action-comedy that centers on a group of former top CIA agents who harbor secrets that make them the agency’s top targets. Now framed for assassination, they must use all of their collective cunning, experience and teamwork to stay alive and one step ahead of their deadly pursuers. To stop the operation, the team embarks on an impossible, cross-country mission to break into the top-secret CIA headquarters, where they will uncover one of the biggest conspiracies and coverups in government history. 

Outlook: Featuring two Oscar winners, Freeman and Mirren, as well as iconic action star Willis, this geriatric squad of secret agents smack down a load of bad guys in one of the most anticipated films of the fall. After the success of another graphic novel (“Kick-Ass”) in the spring, lightning could strike twice with another fun action romp. While Freeman is well respected for his dramatic work, will audiences buy the 73-year old as a bonafide comic action hero?

Release Date: Oct. 15

UNSTOPPABLE

Stars: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson and Kevin Dunn 

Skinny: The film focuses on a runaway train carrying a cargo of toxic chemicals. The story pits an engineer and his conductor in a race against time. They’re chasing the runaway train in a separate locomotive and need to bring it under control before it derails at a curve and causes a toxic spill that will decimate a town. 

Outlook: This film marks the fifth collaboration between Washington and director Tony Scott after their previous successes in “Crimson Tide,” “Man on Fire,” “Déjà vu” and “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.” Loosely based on a true event, the film has been described as Speed on a train. While Washington has enjoyed moderate success in action films, he turned in a strong performance earlier this year in the post-apocalyptic thriller, “The Book of Eli.” Will Washington’s star power be enough to make this story unstoppable at the box office?

Release Date: Nov. 12

FASTER

Stars: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Moon Bloodgood and Maggie Grace; directed by George Tillman Jr.

Skinny: After 10 years in prison, Driver (Dwayne Johnson) has a singular focus — to avenge the murder of the brother who was killed during the botched bank robbery that led to his imprisonment. Now a free man with a deadly to-do list in hand, he embarks on his mission with two men on his trail — a veteran cop (Billy Bob Thornton) days away from retirement, and a young egocentric hitman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) with a flair for the art of killing. It’s a do or die race to the list’s finish as the mystery surrounding his brother’s murder deepens.

Outlook: Earlier this year, Johnson starred in the kid-friendly” Tooth Fairy,” but returns to his action roots in this revenge drama. Teamed with Tillman (“Barbershop,” “Soul Food,” “Men of Honor,” “Notorious”), Faster is a test to see if his intimate brand of filmmaking can translate to big action films. With good early buzz and “The Rock” on your team maybe the audience will smell what Tillman is cooking.

Release Date: Nov. 24

DUE DATE 

Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Jamie Foxx and Michelle Monaghan 

Skinny: Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is an expectant first-time father whose wife’s due date is a mere five days away. As he hurries to catch a flight home from Atlanta to be at her side for the birth, his best intentions go completely awry when a chance encounter with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Galifinakis) forces Peter to hitch a ride with Ethan — on what turns out to be a cross-country road trip that ultimately will destroy several cars, numerous friendships and Peter’s last nerve.

Outlook: The early buzz on this film is that it is this year’s “The Hangover.” Oscar winner Foxx has a decidedly low-profile role in this film, which makes us wonder why he decided to do it at all. After several recent disappointments and splitting his focus between doing a radio show, pursuing a music career and enjoying his fame, his film career has suffered as he’s failed to capitalize on the immense talent that he displayed early on. Come back, Jamie, come back!

Release Date: Nov. 5

DEVIL 

Stars: Chris Messina, Geoffrey Arend, Logan Marshall-Green, Bojana Novakovic, Jenny O’Hara and Bokeem Woodbine; produced by M. Night Shyamalan 

Skinny: In this supernatural thriller, a group of people get trapped on a downtown elevator and to their surprise one of them is actually the Prince of Darkness!

Outlook: After an unforgettable debut film (“The Sixth Sense”), Shyamalan has mostly been hit or miss. His last film was the disappointing summer fantasy “The Last Airbender,” but “Devil” is the kind of film that could re-establish Shyamalan’s mystique. While Shyamalan is producing this thriller, he has long prided himself in creating or finding scripts that are full of strange supernatural occurrences. Will Shyamalan’s latest film grip the audience with fear … or laughter?

Release Date: Sept. 17

THE TEMPEST

Stars: Helen Mirren, Djimon Hounsou, Russell Brand, Chris Cooper and Alfred Molina

Skinny: The big-screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s mystical thriller changes the gender of the sorcerer Prospero into the sorceress Prospera, portrayed by Mirren. Prospera’s journey spirals through vengeance to forgiveness as she reigns over a magical island, cares for her young daughter, Miranda, and unleashes her powers against shipwrecked enemies in this masterly mix of romance, tragicomedy and the supernatural.

Outlook: Taymor (Broadway’sThe Lion King”) promises to give audiences Shakespeare’s great magical romance with a few new twists. One of those is two-time Oscar nominee, Hounsou who will tackle the work of Hollywood’s most famous writer for the first time playing Caliban, the only human inhabitant on the island ruled by Prospera (Mirren). Playing such a colorful and distinctive character may generate enough on-screen heat to put Hounsou in the conversation for some awards attention. If nothing else, it is another memorable character to add to his impressive resume.

Release Date: Dec. 10

WAITING FOR SUPERMAN

Stars: Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee, Bill Strickland and Randi Weingarten

Skinny: This documentary examines the crisis of public education in the United States through multiple interlocking stories — from a handful of students and their families whose futures hang in the balance to the educators and reformers trying to find real and lasting solutions within a dysfunctional system.

Outlook: “The Lottery,” a documentary released earlier this year, mined similar territory but “Superman” examines the problem with families throughout the country. Award winning director Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth”) examines the notion that despite America claiming to leave no child behind, it does so at alarming rates. For parents who are worried about the educational divide that exists in the public school system, Guggenheim’s doc makes the strong argument that if children are indeed the future, they would be better served joining the charter school movement.

Release Date: Sept. 24

LEGACY

Stars: Idris Elba, Eamonn Walker, Monique Gabriella Curnen, Clarke Peters, Richard Brake, Julian Wadham;
directed by Thomas Ikimi

Skinny:  A disgruntled  Black Ops operative (Elba) returns home after an failed mission in Eastern Europe. Stuck in a Brooklyn motel torn apart from retribution and salvation as things close in on him it may only be the story is all he can leave behind.

Outlook: Freh off headlining the stylistic heist flick, “Takers,” Elba dives into a dramatic character study in this political paranoia film that has become a favorite on the indie circuit. A potential star-making vehicle for the charasmatic Elba, this gritty psychodrama may have a difficult time for audiences accustomed to more self-assured performances from the budding sex symbol.

Release Date: October 15


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One response

27 09 2010
Frances Douglas

Please keep me in mind for any advance screenings, i.e. RED, For Colored Girls, Unstoppable, Legacy

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