First look at fall films

With a summer full of box-office hits, 2009 is looking like a big year for the big screen. The Oracle previews some of fall’s predicted blockbusters.

Gamer – Sept. 4

Boasting a star-studded cast including John Leguizamo, Ludacris and Terry Crews, the action thriller Gamer could make a splash during its opening weekend.

Set in the future, the violent video game “Slayers” gives players full control of a death row inmate in full-scale combat. Kable (300’s Gerard Butler), the game’s most popular character, is wrongfully imprisoned inside the battle and is being controlled by Simon, whose 27-game winning streak catapults him into fame.

Kable strives for freedom so he can reunite with his wife (The Closer’s Kyra Sedgwick) and exact revenge on the game’s creator, Ken Castle (Paycheck’s Michael Hall).

– Brandon Jones

9 – Sept. 9

In 9, an animated film produced by Tim Burton (Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands), apocalypse was yesterday and there’s no hope for human beings. That is, unless 9 (Lord of the Rings’ Elijah Woods), the last of a scientist’s creation of living rag dolls, can convince the elder eight dolls of his kind to come out from their cowering and defend all hopes of their creator’s kind from monstrous androids prowling the scorched earth.

What starts as a coming of age for 9 turns into a motley crew of rag dolls pooling together their remaining resources on the dark planet to rid themselves of impending doom. As a visually stimulating depiction of end times, 9 looks to be another masterpiece in the Tim Burton repertoire.

– Brandon Jones

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – Sept. 18

Sony Pictures Animation’s latest 3-D motion picture comes in an adaptation of a classic children’s book. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs takes place in the fictional town of “Chewandswallow,” where cumulonimbus clouds shower various food and drink instead of water.

The movie contains a few unique twists not included in the book, but the film’s Web site still promises “the most delicious event since macaroni met cheese.” Andy Samberg, Anna Faris and Mr. T round out a versatile voice cast.

– Evan Brenner

Fame – Sept. 25

This popular ‘80s film has been reworked into a hip and modern version that follows singers, dancers, actors and musicians as they navigate their way through the trials of a performing arts high school in New York City.

Directed by musical theater veteran Andy Fickman and newcomer Kevin Tancharoen, Fame showcases the talent of these aspiring performers. The movie stars a hot, young cast, including former So You Think You Can Dance contestant Kherington Payne.

Like the original version, Fame will remind audiences what it is like to dream big and have the passion and dedication that comes with achieving those dreams.

– Jillian Fredenhagen

Paper Heart – Oct. 1

Michael Cera (Juno, Superbad) is back with his relatable, awkward humor in this documentary-style film chronicling a search for the meaning of true love.

Paper Heart follows Charlyne Yi (Knocked Up) as she travels the country interviewing everyone from ministers to a chemist, trying to find someone to discredit her belief that love is a myth.

Along the way she meets Cera and struggles with continuing disbelief in love while fostering a new, blooming relationship. With guest stars Seth Rogan (Knocked Up) and Martin Starr (Superbad), audiences across America who have fallen in love with these comedians’ previous works will flock to theaters for this new documentary.

– Ashley Coogle

Couples Retreat – Oct. 9

When a couple on the verge of divorce plan to save their marriage by visiting “the Disneyland for adults” in the tropics, some of their friends go along for a leisurely getaway. They soon realize that the resort’s group discount comes with a price – To take advantage of the fun activities, they have to attend unwanted therapeutic sessions, such as couples’ skill building.

Shark bites, nudity, rough massages and a scantily-clad yoga instructor will keep the mood light while the movie touches on some real-life problems couples face.

The all-star cast of Couples Retreat – including Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers), Jason Bateman (Juno) and the new Hollywood hottie Malin Akerman (Watchmen) – is sure to draw in many moviegoers.

-Shana Johnson

Zombieland – Oct. 9

Charged with the task of outwitting zombies that have taken over America, Tallahassee (Semi-Pro’s Woody Harrelson) and Columbus (Adventureland’s Jesse Eisenberg) just can’t seem to figure out how to survive each other.

In the action comedy, Tallahassee is out to win the zombie kill of the week while Columbus just wants to survive. The zombie clean-up duo puts on a display of how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world with worst possible person. Sure to please or possibly disgust, Zombieland may just help cure any living dead film craving for the year.

-Brandon Jones

Where the Wild Things Are – Oct. 16

Since its publication in 1963, Where the Wild Things Are has become a beloved story to generations of children. In mid-October, the popular book by Maurice Sendak will make its way to the big screen.

This unique motion picture mixes actors – including Catherine Keener (The 40 Year Old Virgin) and Mark Ruffalo (13 Going on 30) – animation and puppeteering together in an imaginative, whimsical tale about the adventures of a boisterous little boy, Max, who runs away from home to a land of fantasy creatures.

Audiences will be intrigued to see the wild things step off the pages of childhood memories and come to life on screen.

-Shana Johnson

A Christmas Carol – Nov. 6

In 2000, Jim Carrey stole Christmas as Dr. Seuss’s Grinch. This year, he’ll take on a similar role as the holiday-hating Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

In this 3-D animated feature, Scrooge is haunted by three ghosts – also played by Carrey -who take him on a wild ride of redemption through his past, present and future. This story is sure to touch hearts as a timeless classic or a new-age 3-D adventure.

-Joe Polito

2012 – Nov. 13

Based on the Mayan-based theory that the world will come to an end Dec. 21, 2012, the movie 2012 tells the story of how the human race struggles to survive after worldwide cataclysmic disasters.

Director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow), no stranger to disaster movies, will bring his usual stunning visual effects to 2012. Hollywood and audiences have favored past apocalyptic movies, and that underlying fear of the unknown could make 2012 a big blockbuster this fall. The movie stars John Cusack, Amanda Peet and newcomer Morgan Lily.

-Jillian Fredenhagen

The Twilight Saga: New Moon – Nov. 20

This November hopeless romantics and vampire lovers across the country will gather to see New Moon, the sequel to Twilight.

When Twilight premiered in November 2008, movie theater lines exceeded front entrances. With the adaption of the second book arriving in theaters in less than three months, fans are getting antsy.

Robert Pattinson plays a lesser role in this movie, and Taylor Lautner – who told MTV he gained almost 30 pounds of muscle for the new movie – is expected to step up to the plate, playing a mysterious, strong and capable boy-toy for Bella (Kristen Stewart).

– Felicia Garcia

The Princess and the Frog – Dec. 11

Students who loved films like The Little Mermaid and Aladdin will enjoy Disney’s new film The Princess and the Frog from the same directors, Ron Clements and John Musker.

The old fairytale of a frog turning into a handsome prince is told like never before. Anika Rose (Dreamgirls) voices the beautiful Princess Tiana, who kisses a frog and gets an unexpected surprise. From the hand-drawn animation to the music, provided by Randy Newman, this new blockbuster is sure to be a hit with both young and old alike.

– Rachel Kaylor