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Fall 2014 movie preview

Even though the calendar shows we still have a few more weeks of summer left, Hollywood is wasting no time in wheeling out their collective fall roster. Although the bulk are of the prestige/Oscar-seeking variety, there is plenty crowd-pleasing fare as well including an inordinately high number of horror flicks. As usual, all opening dates are subject to change without notice, rhyme or reason.

September 12

• DOLPHIN TALE 2 — The sequel to the popular family/nature drama looks to be about the same: safe, heartwarming, pedestrian and completely forgettable.

• THE DROP — This mistaken identity thriller starring Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace also marks the final screen appearance of the late James Gandolfini, albeit in a supporting role.

• LOVE IS STRANGE — John Lithgow and Alfred Molina play an elderly New York-based gay couple who find out the hard way that while they can now be legally married, not everyone will be happy for them.

• NO GOOD DEED — Set and filmed in Atlanta, this urban thriller stars Idris Elba as a would-be stranded motorist who is helped by a housewife played by Taraji P. Henson and he returns the favor by terrorizing her.

September 19

• A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES — Liam Neeson stars as a private detective hired by a drug dealer to try and find out who murdered his wife.

• HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS — Simon Pegg plays the title character, a psychiatrist who drops everything and goes globetrotting in a search for the meaning of life.

• MAZE RUNNER — This sci-fi thriller — cast with mostly unknown teen males — is based on a novel by James Dashner and looks like a cross between “The Giver” and “Total Recall.”

• THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU — After the death of a patriarch, his four grown children (including Tina Fey and Jason Bateman) spend a week at home with their loopy mother (Jane Fonda) and get on each other’s nerves.

• TUSK — This horror/comedy from filmmaker Kevin Smith seems out there even by his fringe standards. After a blogger (Justin Long) disappears, his two friends (Haley Joel Osmet and Genesis Rodriguez) hire a former cop to find him. The trouble is the blogger might now be a walrus.

September 26

• THE EQUALIZER — Director Antoine Fuqua and leading man Denzel Washington attempt to recapture the magic of “Training Day” in this adaptation of the ’80s TV series starring Edward Woodward. Washington plays an ex-secret agent for hire for people seeking justice outside the legal system.

• GOOD PEOPLE — The plot is a dead ringer for “A Simple Plan” — a husband (James Franco) and wife (Kate Hudson) come across some lost cash stolen by Tom Wilkinson and Omar Sy.

• THE NOTEBOOK — Not to be confused with the weepy romance of the same name, this Hungarian import is a World War II drama about young children trying to escape the Nazis while fleeing Eastern Europe.

October 3

• ANNABELLE — Alfre Woodard stars in this “Chucky” retread about a woman who recently received a gift with evil intentions: a possessed doll.

• GONE GIRL — This latest from director David Fincher is a mystery thriller starring Ben Affleck as the husband who becomes the primary suspect in the recent disappearance of his wife (Rosamund Pike).

• THE GOOD LIE — Reese Witherspoon stars in this drama about a Good Samaritan American woman who takes in a Sudanese refugee.

• LEFT BEHIND — Based on the novel of the same name, Nicolas Cage stars in this reboot of the faith-based mystery thriller about the survivors of a Biblical apocalypse.

October 10

• PRIDE — Bill Nighy stars in the fact-based comedic drama about a group of British gays and lesbians who came to the aid of striking mine workers in the mid -’80s.

• ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY — A Disney family comedy starring Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner that looks a lot like the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” flicks.

• AUTOMATA — Smacking of “Blade Runner,” Antonio Banderas stars in this sci-fi thriller where he plays a corporate insurance agent investigating rogue and reprogrammed humanoid robots.

• THE JUDGE — Robert Duvall plays the title character that, after a lifetime on the bench is accused of a crime and is defended by his estranged attorney son (Robert Downey Jr.).

October 17

• THE BEST OF ME — James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan play former high school sweethearts who reunite years later when each returns to their small hometown.

• BIRDMAN — Michael Keaton plays a washed-up actor who must shake his former superhero typecast character persona in order in start a new career on the stage.

• BOOK OF LIFE — Zoe Saldana, Ron Perlman and Channing Tatum are among the many to lend their voices in this animated adventure from producer Guillermo del Toro.

• DRACULA UNTOLD — The umpteenth version of the origin of cinema’s most enduring fictional character.

• FURY — Brad Pitt turns in a variation of his “Inglourious Basterds” character as the commander of a tank and its crew caught behind enemy lines in Germany during the last days of World War II.

October 24

• LAGGIES — Keira Knightley, Chloe Moretz and Sam Rockwell are the leads in this romantic comedy about a woman who gets into trouble with her boyfriend after lying to him about something or other.

• OUIJA — A cast of mostly unknowns find their lives forever changed after getting together and fiddling around with the titular board game.

• ST. VINCENT — The small-for-his-age son of a divorced woman (Melissa McCarthy) finds an unlikely mentor in a cranky neighbor (Bill Murray) whose only other friend is a Russian stripper (Naomi Watts).

• STONEHEARST ASYLUM — Based on an Edgar Allan Poe short story “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether,” this gothic thriller stars Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine and Kate Beckinsale.

October 31

• BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP — Based on the novel of the same name, Nicole Kidman plays a woman whose memory is erased after a car accident which leads to bouts of paranoia and persecution.

• NIGHTCRAWLER — Jake Gyllenhaal plays a freelance journalist who gets more than he bargained for after landing what appears to be a plum gig about the underground L.A. crime world.

• WHIPLASH — Looking like “Mr. Holland’s Opus” with teeth, Miles Teller plays a promising jazz drummer who is driven to become even better under the stern tutelage of a professor played by J.K. Simmons.

November 7

• BIG HERO 6 — Disney tries to further expand its share of the superhero marketplace with this 3-D animated adventure based on the Marvel comic book series of the same name.

• ROSEWATER — Remember when “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart took all that time off last summer to direct a movie? This is it. A journalist (Gael Garcia Bernal) is captured by Muslim extremists and is subsequently tortured.

November 14

• BEYOND THE LIGHTS — After winning a Grammy, a young singer lets success and excess get the better of her until she’s rescued from herself by an up and coming police officer.

• DUMB AND DUMBER TO — Nearly two decades after the first, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reprise their roles as the title characters which begs the question, will anyone care?

November 21

• THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY — PART 1 — As if it needed more hype, the next to last installment of the dystopian franchise will certainly get a boost as it is the last film featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman and will be the first release starring Jennifer Lawrence following the discovery of nude Internet photos of her.

November 26

• AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR aka HOME — A tenacious real estate agent gets more than she bargained for when selling the former home of a recently deceased couple whose estranged daughter returns for a visit.

• HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 — The sequel no one was expecting or wanted features most of the original cast along with new additions Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz as they deliver what will surely be more bad taste “humor.”

• PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR — What is this, like the 15th sequel? If not, it certainly feels like it. If you like the rest of ‘em, you’ll probably love this one as well.

December 5

• THE PYRAMID — In a fall season littered with horror flicks, this one shows actual promise. After unearthing an underground pyramid in the desert, a group of archeologists find themselves hip-deep in mayhem and terror.

December 12

• EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS — Director Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated epic drama stars Christine Bale as Moses leading his people to freedom in the latest retelling of the classic Biblical tale.

• INHERENT VICE — Paul Thomas Anderson’s sprawling drama is about a hard-boiled, drug-addicted private eye (Joaquin Phoenix) who tries to locate his ex-girlfriend’s current boyfriend.

December 17

• THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES — The third and (let’s hope) final installment in director Peter Jackson’s second J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy. Talk about wearing out one’s welcome.

December 19

• ANNIE — Oscar-nominated preteen Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) stars as the title character along with Jamie Foxx as Daddy Warbucks in this big-budget, pull-out-all-the-stops musical.

• NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB — Featuring one of Robin Williams’ final performances, this action/fantasy franchise starring Ben Stiller is the prototypical, money-grubbing Hollywood cash cow.

December 25

• AMERICAN SNIPER — Clint Eastwood tries to shake off the embarrassment of “Jersey Boys” with something more suited to his unique talents. Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle, the real-life Navy SEAL who has taken out at least 160 confirmed enemy combatants.

• THE INTERVIEW — Seth Rogen and James Franco play hack TV gossip journalists who catch a huge break when the president of Korea — one of their biggest fans — agrees to an interview.

• INTO THE WOODS — Johnny Depp and Anna Kendrick star in this Disney fantasy adventure directed by Rob Marshall that also features several classic fairytale heroines.

• UNBROKEN — Director Angelina Jolie’s hotly anticipated, inspirational, fact-based drama about recently deceased American soldier and Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini.