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Trick or Treat: October Movie Preview

Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars in Matthijs van Heijningen Jr's remake of The Thing, opening Oct. 14.

Summer is officially over, but Hollywood is still churning out enough remakes (Footloose, The Thing), tech-savvy adventures (Real Steel) and physics-defying thrillers (In Time) to make the adjustment that much smoother. With the first weekend of October about to begin, let's take a look at what the month has to offer.



Real Steel
(Oct. 7)
The fighters: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Kevin Durand, Anthony Mackie
Calling the shots: Shawn Levy

The skinny: Rock’em Sock’em Robots come to life in Levy’s adaptation of Richard Matheson’s 1956 short story, set in a dystopian future where cyborgs have replaced humans in the boxing ring. Jackman, as a onetime pugilist turned small-time promoter, agrees to build a ’bot with his son that can contend for the heavyweight crown. It's a scenario familiar to fans of both The Twilight Zone (“Steel") and The Simpsons (“I, D’oh!-Bot”). 

Rated PG-13



The Ides of March (Oct. 7)
The politicos: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

Calling the shots: Clooney, behind the camera for the first time since the 2008 football comedy Leatherheads
The skinny: Based on Beau Willimon’s 2008 play Farragut North – itself loosely based on Howard Dean’s Democratic primary bid four years earlier – March stars Gosling as an up-and-coming press secretary ensnared in dirty politics on the campaign trail. Producer Clooney, who co-stars as a presidential hopeful, delayed releasing the drama for two years, not wanting to rain cynically on America’s parade during the (briefly) optimistic period following Barack Obama’s election.

Rated R



Take Shelter (Oct. 7)
The neurotics: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker

Calling the shots: Jeff Nichols
The skinny: Chastain, one of the year’s most prolific actresses (with The Tree of Life, The Help, The Debt and Ralph Fiennes’ upcoming Coriolanus), stars in this unbearably tense Sundance favorite about a young husband (Shannon) obsessively preparing for a storm that might be a figment of his paranoia.
Rated R



The Thing (Oct. 14)
The scientists: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Eric Christian Olsen, Joel Edgerton
Calling the shots: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
The skinny: Set three days before John Carpenter’s 1982 chiller – itself a reimagining of Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby’s The Thing from Another World (1951) – Heijningen’s story finds a team of Antarctic-bound researchers (led by Winstead, of Death Proof) struggling to contain an alien infestation that threatens mankind.

Rated R


 
Footloose (Oct. 14)
The dancers: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Ziah Colon, Miles Teller

Calling the shots: Hustle & Flow director Craig Brewer

The skinny: Eager to cash in on the success of High School Musical and, of course, the 1984 original starring Kevin Bacon and the 1998 stage musical it inspired, Paramount has been pushing another Footloose for four years. Now starring Wormald (Center Stage: Turn It Up), who replaces the departed Zac Efron and Chace Crawford, the not-so-eagerly awaited remake, about teenagers rebelling against a small-town ordinance banning dancing, is finally ready to kick off its Sunday shoes.
Rated PG



Paranormal Activity 3 (Oct. 21)
The spooked: Katie Featherston, Sprague Grayden
Calling the shots: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

The skinny: Directed by Joost and Schulman, whose bold, manipulative Catfish simultaneously captivated and polarized Sundance audiences last year, the latest Activity prequel seeks to explain further the cheap, forgettable thrills of its ho-hum predecessors.

Not Yet Rated



The Three Musketeers (Oct. 21)
The swashbucklers: Logan Lerman, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Matthew Macfadyen

Calling the shots: Paul W. S. Anderson

The skinny: Charlie Sheen starred in the big screen’s last Musketeers in 1993, but the self-aggrandizing warlock of yesterday’s news cycle is nowhere to be found in this umpteenth adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ 1844 novel – the first in state-of-the-art 3-D – featuring Lerman (Percy Jackson & the Olympians) as the hotheaded d’Artagnan and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) as the power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu.

Rated PG-13


 
Martha Marcy May Marlene (Oct. 28)
The players: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes, Hugh Dancy
Calling the shots: Sean Durkin

The skinny: Durkin’s stylish debut, involving a troubled woman (Olsen, younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley) who suffers a meltdown after fleeing an abusive Connecticut commune, earned him this year’s Sundance Directing Award. An alliterative mouthful, Marlene also seems primed to make a star of Jody Lee Lipes (Tiny Furniture), whose stunning cinematography has received early raves.

Rated R



In Time (Oct. 28)
The survivors: Justin Timberlake, Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy
Calling the shots: Gattaca director Andrew Niccol
The skinny: In the not-so-distant future, time is money – literally – allowing the obscenely rich to buy immortality while poor young go-getters like Will Salas (Timberlake) scramble to survive. According to the sometime singer, it’s his first chance to carry a movie on his own. If he’s lucky, his latest foray into science fiction will fare better than his first, the execrable Southland Tales.
Rated PG-13



The Rum Diary (Oct. 28)
The drinkers: Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi
Calling the shots: Withnail and I director Bruce Robinson

The skinny: Hunter S. Thompson’s second novel – his first, Prince Jellyfish, remains unpublished – is the basis for Robinson’s frenetic adventure involving a New York journalist (Depp) whose impulsive move to Puerto Rico thrusts him into the thick of a rum-soaked love story rife with jealousy, violence and betrayal.
Rated R