Sorry to spoil the surprise, but the fall movie season is going to be dominated by a certain young-ish wizard embarking on his final adventure. Yes, the Nov. 19 release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1 is certain to dominate the multiplex through the Christmas season, but there will be plenty of other choice films headed our way in the next few months.
September gets things off to a slow start with the sure-to-be gore-tastic Machete (Sept. 3) the only real eye-catcher early in the month. Things get more exciting on Sept. 24 with the release of a pair of possible winners: Oliver Stone's hot sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps will feature Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan along side Michael Douglas as he reprises his Oscar-winning role from the 1987 original, and the bio-pic Howl, which stars James Franco as beat-poet legend Allen Ginsberg.
October 1 sees the much-anticipated sharing of David Fincher's The Social Network, starring Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook creator Mark Zuckerburg. Fincher's a true ace, and the movie looks well cast, including an interesting supporting turn from the decidedly not-nappy Justin Timberlake playing Napster founder Shawn Fanning. If a movie about a website isn't geeky enough for you, the big-screen adaptation of the best-selling Freakanomics should cook your noodle through with quality indie documentarians (Alex Gibney, Morgan Spurlock, etc.) bringing authors Levitt and Dunbar's heady, economics-based take on the world to stirring visual life.
The hits just keep on coming in October, as the month will also see the eagerly anticipated release of the third film in Stieg Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy," The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest (Oct. 15). Noomi Rapace reprises her role from the previous two films, and with serious Oscar buzz growing for her performance in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, maybe it's time you saw what all the fuss was about? If you'd rather stick with comic book movies and horror flicks, Hollywood still has you covered with Red (Oct. 15), which stars Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich in what will surely be the best-acted comic-book adaptation ever, and Paranormal Activity 2 (Oct. 22), which ups the scare quotient from last year's Halloween smash by adding a baby to the haunted house. Leave that kid alone!
November 5 (almost the last safe date before Mr. Potter swallows the multiplex whole) will see several big titles hit the big screen. Among the best should be Due Date, which reunites Hangover director Todd Phillips with breakout star Zach Galifinakis, who plays as an eccentric aspiring actor sharing a cross-country road trip with a stuffy businessman rushing home to see the birth of his first child. This would seem cookie-cutter if not for the great casting of Robert Downey Jr. as said stuffy businessman. What the Zach and Bob road show will look like is anyone's guess, but I'm sure it will be hilarious.
Also out Nov. 5 is 127 Hours, director Danny Boyle's follow-up to the Academy Award-winning Slumdog Millionaire. About as different from Slumdog as you can get, 127 Hours is the based-on-a-true story of a hiker (played by James Franco) who got his armed trapped under a boulder while alone in the woods and had to hack it off in order to make it back to civilization. It's tough subject matter, and it remains to be seen if audiences will give this one a hand.
There are plenty more good titles headed to theaters between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, including: Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis as warring ballerinas who make out (!) in Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan (Dec. 1); Jeff Bridges still trapped in a computer for the 3D sci-fi opus Tron: Legacy (Dec. 17); Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd as future lovers who meet on the worst day of their respective lives in James L. Brook's romantic comedy How Do You Know (Dec. 17), Ben Stiller et al. returning for more family fun in Little Fockers (Dec. 22); and the Coen Brothers remaking the John Wayne classic True Grit (Dec. 25) with Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Jeff Bridges.