Welcome to the trailer round-up, where we do a quick run-down of each nationwide release hitting theaters and jump to ill-founded conclusions based entirely on their trailers, production news, and cast/crew! Always remember that trailers lie and are rarely indicative of a film's quality, so don't let anything said here stop you from seeing a movie - I certainly won't!
It's the start of Oscar season so you bet your ninny we've got novel adaptations and biopics! This month we have twelve films to preview.
In Theaters October 7
The Girl on the Train
At a Glance: Rachel Watson, life shattered by a messy divorce, finds comfort in alcohol and fantasies about a couple she sees from the train. After a night of heavy drinking, Rachel awakens to learn that the mystery woman has gone missing and that she is the prime suspect.
Why I'm Excited: This is basically "Gone Girl, Gone Harder" right? I liked that movie back in 2014, maybe I'll still like it in 2016! But seriously, reviews have started to come in and this movie is splitting critics with audiences reacting a little more favorably. I've avoided most of the new trailers and all reviews so I can give this a fair shake.
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
At a Glance: Another adaptation! Rafe is the new kid in school, and quickly finds that his imagination and personality clash with the rigid, rules-oriented principal. After his cherished sketch book is destroyed, Rafe and friends plan an operation to break every school rule and get back at the overbearing faculty.
The Birth of a Nation
At a Glance: "The Birth of a Nation" is based on the true story of Nat Turner, an enslaved Baptist preacher who became the leader of an armed slave rebellion in 1831.
Why I'm (Conflicted-ly) Excited: I've had this on my radar since it wowed the Sundance Film Festival in January. "The Birth of a Nation" grapples with a dark and powerful chapter of America's history, but at this point is impossible to see without consideration of director and star Nate Parker's own past. His recent inartful response to questions about a resurfaced 1999 rape charge (of which he was acquitted) has sparked backlash and put a cloud over the film's portrayal of a violent sexual assault. Co-star Gabrielle Union, herself a victim of sexual assault, wrote a thoughtful column in which she discusses the allegations but describes the film and the conversation around it as important. In that spirit, I'd like to see it, but it will be harder than usual to separate art from artist.
In Theaters October 14
At a Glance: There's not much plot to be gleaned from the trailer, so here's what IMDB says: "As a math savant uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities and the body count starts to rise."
Why I'm Excited: The cast, mostly. The trailer avoids spelling the story out, so let's turn to IMDB to make some educated guesses. The director has made some great movies, but the writer has two previous writing credits, both duds, one of which was described by a critic as "obvious Oscar bait" (maybe not his fault; a terrible movie could have a great script). Still, it is the start of Oscar fishing season. I'm holding out hope that this is more.
At a Glance: The first in a coming flood of post-"Lego Movie" toy-to-film adaptations, "Max Steel" follows the adventures of ordinary teen Max as he learns to use his amazing powers with the help of his robot friend Steel.
Why I'm (Not) Excited: You watched the trailer, right? This is a phase one Marvel movie if those were dull, colorless, and lacked a beloved franchise anchor. Uninspired. Generic. Boring. Were the people really clamoring for this?
At a Glance: A group of migrants illegally crossing the United States border are hunted by a murderous vigilante.
Por Eso Que Estoy Excitado: This is nakedly political horror and I love it. The trailer is really well cut, though the movie itself has gotten mixed reviews over its international run. Please note, this is a Mexican film and may only be available in limited release.
In Theaters October 21
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
At a Glance: Jack Reacher returns to unravel a conspiracy inside the government after this former unit leader is charged with treason.
Why I'm Excited: Reacher is the clear second stringer to Tom Cruise's other, bigger, better franchise, "Mission: Impossible," but still could deliver enough to be worth the price of admission. Cruise may be bat-shit crazy but he's also America's Action Star, undeniably talented and a blast to watch on screen.
Keeping Up With the Joneses
At a Glance: Jeff and Karen Gaffney are an average suburban couple thrown into the middle of a battle of spies when their new neighbors, the Joneses, turn out to be more than they seem.
Why I'm (Not) Excited: The trailer covers a lot of ground, none of which feels particularly new or inspired; I've seen it called a cross between "Date Night" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." The cast is good and director Greg Motolla's previous work has been solid ("Superbad," "Adventureland"). Still, comedies are very hit-or-miss and keeping expectations low has historically served me well.
Ouija: Origin of Evil
At a Glance: ::holding a flashlight to face:: A long time ago, in 2014, a film called "Ouija" terrified audiences everywhere with it's shocking twist ending: the realization that they had spent real money to see bad garbage. Two years and $100 million dollars later, it returns to again steal cash from unsuspecting movie-goers who should really know better! OooooOOOOOoooOOOoooohhh!!!
Why I'm (Twist Incoming) Excited: Okay I'm not actually excited, but "Ouija: Origin of Evil" has had a much more stable production history than it's predecessor. The original suffered from problems with its financing, production studios backing out and then rejoining, and the original cut of the film screened so poorly that according to star Olivia Cooke more than half the film was completely re-written and re-shot. There's zero chance this is nearly as bad as that mess.
Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween
At a Glance: Tyler Perry's Madea 9: Ninety Minutes of References to Other, Better Movies
Why I'm (Spookily Not) Excited: Trailers are often guilty of showing a movie's funniest moments. Is this the best of "Boo?" What a depressing thought. They show the same joke twice (punching the clown) and I groaned aloud at the "Saw" reference. But hey, these movies are cheap to make and easily make at least $50 million a pop, so what do I know?
In Theaters October 28
At a Glance: The third film adaptation of Dan Brown's Langdon series, "Inferno" stars Tom Hanks as symbologist Robert Langdon, who awakens in a hospital with no memories of a heist he appears to have carried out. As Langdon hunts for clues to unlock the truth, he finds himself on the heels of a global threat.
Why I'm Ambivalent: These movies are popular but I haven't seen any of them. Trailer looks silly in a goofy fun, "National Treasure" sort of way.
At a Glance: A middle class family is torn apart as their daughter embraces violent political radicalism in the 1960s. This is an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Philip Roth and is star Ewan McGregor's directorial debut.
Why I'm Excited: Of all the trailers in this month's round-up, this is probably my favorite. It's very well put together. I hadn't heard of this before and now I'm definitely intrigued. That said, early reviews have not been great; the film has a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes with 8 reviews. But as always, we end our round-up with optimism! Only 8 reviews means there's room for that score to go up, up, UP!
Thanks for checking out this month's movie preview! What are you most looking forward to seeing this October? Sound off in the comments!