Rotten Tomatoes Presents: Fall Movie Preview 2007

  1. A Guide to the Fall's Hottest Movies

    By Jeff Giles
    Summer is over, and the Fun in the Sun aisle at your local department store has been replaced with rows of binders, pencils, and sad-faced children. Yes, film fans, fall is here, and it's time to take a look at what you can expect to find at a theater near you between now and when your post-Thanksgiving tryptophan coma finally fades. The studios have lined up a diverse crowd of contenders -- you've got your typical awards contenders (Lions for Lambs, The Golden Age), broad comedies (Good Luck Chuck, The Heartbreak Kid), senses-shattering action flicks (Shoot 'Em Up, Hitman), bloodcurdling thrillers (30 Days of Night, The Mist), kid-friendly fare (Bee Movie, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium) and a few movies that seem to promise a little of everything (American Gangster, Beowulf). In other words, you'd better start padding that Friday movie fund, because you'll have plenty of reasons to brave the megaplex over the next few months. Read on!

  2. Resident Evil: Extinction

    Starring: Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr
    Directed by: Russell Mulcahy

    Release Date: September 21, 2007

    Add together the Tomatometer scores for the first two films in the Resident Evil series, and you're still shy of Fresh territory -- 2002's Resident Evil scored 33 percent, while 2004's Resident Evil: Apocalypse received a humbling 20 percent -- but the critics' chilly reception of those films didn't prevent them from amassing a combined worldwide gross of roughly $235 million. And since it's a well-known movie maxim that two rounds of highly stylized post-outbreak action deserve a third, moviegoers will be treated this fall to Resident Evil: Extinction, in which Milla Jovovich once again faces off against the evil Umbrella Corporation and the mindlessly homicidal spawn of its lab-generated T-virus.

    For the third (and supposedly final, in case you were wondering) installment, franchise star Jovovich teams once more with Mike Epps as L.J. and Oded Fehr as Carlos Oliveira; the trio is joined by new castmates, including Heroes star Ali Larter (as Claire Redfield) and singer Ashanti (who plays Nurse Betty). As anyone who has seen the trailer can attest, the new setting and additions to the cast haven't had much, if any, effect on the quick-cut aesthetic and unabashed gore at the heart of the series; the rule of the film -- as with most second sequels -- seems to be bigger, faster, and more. It isn't likely to win many awards, but in terms of literal bang for your moviegoing buck, Resident Evil: Extinction looks to provide a fitting finale for the trilogy.

    Ah, September. The temperature is dropping, the kids are finally back in school, and the big summer tentpole movies are fading as fast as your tan. These are the weeks when the big, loud popcorn epics begin yielding to thoughtful dialogue and plots too complicated to fit on a napkin. It's a gradual process, however, and while this month features a number of award hopefuls (such as the Russell Crowe/Christian Bale remake of 3:10 to Yuma), it's also got plenty of lighter fare, from all-out action (Shoot 'Em Up) to romantic comedy (Good Luck Chuck) to Billy Bob Thornton as a misanthropic sadist (Mr. Woodcock). Whatever your fancy, September's docket offers something to tickle it. Read on for more info!
  4. Shoot 'Em Up

    Starring: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti
    Directed by: Michael Davis
    Release Date: September 07, 2007


    A mysterious loner, played by Clive Owen, helps protect a child from dangerous killers. If you're suffering deja vu, it's understandable; the preceding sentence could just as easily be applied to Owen's most recent starring role, in 2006's Children of Men, as it could to this month's Shoot 'Em Up. The similarities end there, however -- where Children of Men is a bleak look at a not-too-distant future based on a P.D. James novel, Shoot 'Em Up is an action flick that blends frenetic sequences with an audacious visuals, John Woo-style, featuring a cast that includes Paul Giamatti and Monica Bellucci. Why is a gangster (played by Giamatti) trying to kill a baby? Why is Owen's Mr. Smith protecting it? How does Bellucci fit into all this? If the trailer is any indication, it may not matter all that much; there's plenty of action to spare.
  5. Good Luck Chuck

    Starring: Dane Cook, Jessica Alba
    Directed by: Mark Helfrich
    Release Date: September 21, 2007


    Dane Cook's gone from being an up-and-coming standup comic to the comedian you love to hate in what seems like the blink of an eye, but of all the films he's made since achieving name status, Good Luck Chuck seems the likeliest hit. Granted, when discussing a filmography that includes the Jessica Simpson vehicle Employee of the Month, you're grading on a substantial curve. Chuck has two things going for it, however. One, that its story -- about a guy whose adolescent spurning of a spiteful girl earns him a unique curse -- has plenty of comedic possibilities. And two? It co-stars Jessica Alba as the accident-prone penguin trainer that Cook falls in love with. It isn't likely to earn overwhelmingly positive reviews, but with enough positive word of mouth, that won't matter much -- just ask the cast of Wild Hogs.
  6. The Brothers Solomon

    Starring: Will Arnett, Will Forte
    Directed by: Bob Odenkirk
    Release Date: September 07, 2007


    As GOB Bluth on Arrested Development, Will Arnett suffered ratings deprivation, but at least the reviews were kind; his first post-Development film project, in contrast, was the critically reviled and commercially ignored Let's Go to Prison. This year, he's involved in no fewer than eight films, including this month's The Brothers Solomon, a broad comedy in which Arnett and Will Forte (Saturday Night Live) play a pair of socially inept brothers who fumble through a series of absurd, well-intentioned efforts to give their dying father (Lee Majors) a grandchild. Director Bob Odenkirk was also behind the lens for Let's Go to Prison, and seems to be still finding his way in non-sketch comedy; in other words, both Odenkirk and Arnett could use a hit right now. Will The Brothers Solomon deliver?
  7. 3:10 to Yuma

    Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale
    Directed by: James Mangold
    Release Date: September 07, 2007


    The first of three fall Westerns -- landing in theaters before Brad Pitt's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men -- this remake of the 1957 classic, about a straight-as-an-arrow rancher who volunteers to help extradite a captured outlaw, arrives courtesy of Lionsgate and director James Mangold. Russell Crowe stars as the infamous Ben Wade, whose journey to justice (and the titular Yuma-bound train) is shadowed by his gang, determined to free him from law enforcement; Bale is the Civil War vet who vows to deliver Wade alive, no matter who stands in his way. Peter Fonda and Gretchen Mol help round out the cast of what looks to have all the makings of a sleeper hit.
  8. The Kingdom

    Starring: Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner
    Directed by: Peter Berg
    Release Date: September 28, 2007


    Initially slated for a spring release, this Peter Berg-directed political thriller sends a squad of American federal agents -- including Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, and Jason Bateman -- to Saudi Arabia in order to investigate the bombing of a United States embassy. Based on the Riyadh bombings of 2003, the film was ostensibly delayed in order to better compete during awards season. Bateman as any kind of federal agent is an admittedly tough sell, but with Berg behind the camera and a script co-written by Michael Mann, The Kingdom looks better than you might expect; judging from the trailer, Cooper is as good as ever, and Foxx's performance should help erase some of the sting still lingering from Stealth. The real question, though, is whether audiences will line up for such a politically charged movie, especially in a fall schedule that also contains Lions for Lambs and Rendition.
  9. September : The Rest

    They may not be as high-profile as the month's other releases, but the rest of September's films aren't lacking for star power. Read on to find out more about the movies that will be bringing Scarlett Johansson, Billy Bob Thornton, Jamie Foxx, Jodie Foster, and others to a theater near you.

    Mr. Woodcock
    Seann William Scott stars as a successful self-help guru who returns to his hometown and discovers that his widowed mother (Susan Sarandon) is engaged to the gym teacher who made his childhood a living hell (Billy Bob Thornton). One of several fall films that were originally scheduled for a spring release, Mr. Woodcock seems the most likely candidate for a quick video turnaround.

    Across the Universe
    Evan Rachel Wood and Jim Sturgess topline this heavily Beatles-inspired love story, which frames the main characters' relationship against some of the major events of the 1960s, including Vietnam, American race riots, and the psychedelic movement. Release delays and public disagreements between the studio and director Julie Taymor (not to mention the casting of Bono as Dr. Robert) could be troubling signs, but at least the soundtrack won't be a cause for concern.

    Brave One
    Jodie Foster stars as a woman who, after a random act of violence sends her to the hospital (and her fiancée to his grave), turns to vigilante justice as a coping mechanism. Terrence Howard, Mary Steenbergen, and Naveen Andrews round out the cast of this Neil Jordan-directed drama.

    Lust, Caution
    Eileen Chang's 1950 short story of the same name -- about an illicit affair between a Japanese government official and a member of the student resistance in World War II-era China -- provides the inspiration for director Ang Lee's latest film. A far cry from Hulk, but who's complaining?

    What would autumn be without a period drama? Thankfully, we won't have to go without this year, as Cate Blanchett returns to the throne in Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Not a fan of bodices and royal courts? Never fear -- the month also brings a vampire plague, the return of Jigsaw, Afflecks on both sides of the camera, Clooney in a suit, and Ben Stiller reuniting with the Farrelly brothers. A veritable smorgasbord of fourth-quarter cinematic action, in other words…read on to find out more!
  11. 30 Days of Night

    Starring: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George
    Directed by: David Slade
    Release Date: October 19, 2007


    Hollywood has been making vampire movies almost since the dawn of film, and with a few notable exceptions, they usually aren't very scary; whether because of budget limitations, hackneyed scripts, or the kind of overacting that's difficult to avoid when you're dealing with stories about undead creatures of the night, cinematic history is littered with the corpses of bloodsucker flicks that didn't turn out quite the way they were supposed to. With the benefit of modern special effects (in addition to, presumably, a better-than-average script and some decent acting), producers Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert hope to set themselves apart with the release of the David Slade-directed 30 Days of Night, adapted from the Eisner Award-nominated series of graphic novels by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith.

    So what makes 30 Days of Night different? For starters, the story takes the vampire mythology we all know -- bloodsucking creatures of the night with a deathly allergy to sunlight, etc. -- and gives it a cool twist, sending a flock of fanged fiends to Barrow, a small town in northern Alaska where the sun dips below the horizon for more than a full month (hence the title). One by one, the invaders pick off Barrow's residents, who slowly begin to realize they're in for a very bad few weeks, and make it their mission to survive until the dawn; to that end, the dwindling group of survivors bands together in a desperate standoff against the bloodthirsty undead, led by their sheriff, Eben Olemaun (played by Josh Hartnett).
  12. The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising

    Starring: Ian McShane, Christopher Eccleston
    Directed by: David L. Cunningham
    Release Date: October 05, 2007


    After suffering through years of stepchild status at the box office, fantasy films -- particularly kids' fantasy films -- are big business; since the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies started raking in the bucks, seemingly every major studio has set about finding its own franchise. The first two books in Susan Cooper's popular The Dark Is Rising Sequence, originally published in the 1960s and '70s, marks Walden Media's latest entry into the sweepstakes (and a potentially nifty placeholder for years when the studio is between Narnia films). The story revolves around Will Stanton (played by Alexander Ludwig), a 13-year-old boy who discovers he's the last in a line of supernatural warriors dedicated to battling the forces of evil; Ian McShane (Deadwood) and Christopher Eccleston (Heroes) help round out the cast.

  13. Saw IV

    Starring: Tobin Bell, Scott Patterson
    Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
    Release Date: October 26, 2007


    The so-called torture porn genre is showing signs of winding down -- though Hostel Part II easily recouped its budget, it failed to meet expectations -- but with Saw IV, the franchise lumbers into its fourth installment in as many years. At the end of Saw III, series villain Jigsaw and his apprentice were both dead, but apparently not even death is enough to keep this criminal mastermind down: Jigsaw's portrayer, actor Tobin Bell, is back for more. According to reports, the character really is dead, but his appearance won't be limited to flashbacks or spectral apparitions. Confusing? You bet, but fans of the series can take comfort in knowing that its trademark gore and violence remain intact -- director Darren Lynn Bousman reportedly vomited while filming a scene. Audiences may wish to avoid the extra large popcorn.
  14. The Heartbreak Kid

    Starring: Ben Stiller, Michelle Monaghan
    Directed by: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
    Release Date: October 05, 2007


    In 1972, Elaine May took Neil Simon's The Heartbreak Kid -- a story about a self-obsessed man who gets married for all the wrong reasons -- and turned it into a comedy classic starring Charles Grodin and Cybill Shepherd. A quarter-century later, Bobby and Peter Farrelly have remade the original, swapping Simon's screenplay for a Leslie Dixon rewrite and trading Grodin for Ben Stiller in the lead role. In other words, fans of the original need not apply; Simon's trademark wit and anything approaching social commentary are likely to be stripped out in favor of Farrelly-style slapstick and shocks for laughs. For people who haven't seen the May/Simon version, however, Stiller's Heartbreak Kid will probably be a much stronger draw -- last year's Night at the Museum didn't gross over $570 million worldwide for nothin'.
  15. Hitman

    Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott
    Directed by: Xavier Gens

    Release Date: October 12, 2007


    Yes, it's a videogame adaptation. And no, we aren't prepared to guarantee it won't be awful. But before dismissing it out of hand, consider that while the goal of the Hitman games is to kill complete strangers for money, players are encouraged to avoid indiscriminate violence -- meaning that while Timothy Olyphant's Agent 47 is running hither and yon all over Europe, with Interpol and the Russian military gunning for his shorn and barcoded head, there might actually be time for something resembling character development and a plot. (Then again, director Xavier Gens' resume isn't the beefiest, and screenwriter Skip Woods was responsible for Swordfish, so there might just be a lot of explosions.) Joining Olyphant in all this action are Dougray Scott (Desperate Housewives) and Robert Knepper (Prison Break).