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Fall film preview: This is the slump season

It’s an unfortunate facet of show business that September and October are the slow months. Summer blockbusters are over and award season has yet to begin. Add that to the fact that everyone’s going back to school and the big studios are premiering their new seasons on TV, and you get the second round of “dump months” (after January and February). It’s the sad truth, but hey, at least you can stay on top of your class work.
“The Maze Runner” (Sept. 19)
Take “The Hunger Games,” add the myth of the labyrinth and subtract the Minotaur (maybe), and you’ve got one of the most popular young adult dystopian screen adaptations. However, rather than the neck-and-neck nature of “games,” here the competitors must work together to escape the puzzle and the Minotaur that (maybe) lives in its center.
“Tusk” (Sept. 19)
Kevin Smith returns to the big screen with a new genre under his belt. Justin Long stars as a man slowly morphing into…a walrus. At least it’s a relatively novel idea. The horror genre is one that Smith dabbled with in “Red State,” but expect a full exploration of the typical terror trappings. Justin Long also stole the show with a single scene in “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” so a re-teaming of the actor and director should prove interesting.
“The Boxtrolls” (Sept. 26)
If you’ve got any kids in town, Laika Studios’ (“Paranorman”) newest film might be the answer. Laika films are known for not treating kids like idiots by featuring complex themes and twists for children’s films. This one features, what is on the surface, a basic story: An orphan fights to save his adoptive monster parents from others who are frightened of the creatures.
“Gone Girl” (Oct. 3)
David Fincher (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Zodiac”) directs this adaptation of a popular mystery novel, starring Ben Affleck. After his wife is murdered, sympathy turns to suspicion of the widower as his grief turns into erratic behavior. It’s nice that after Affleck proved his acting chops in “Argo,” cinema fans can look forward to a new film of his. Meanwhile, comic fans can get a sense of the darkness and intensity he might bring to “Batman v. Superman” in 2016.
“The Judge” (Oct. 10)
Looking for more mystery fare? Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall play son and father in this drama about a city lawyer moving back to his country town as the local judge (his own dad) is brought up on charges of murder. The lawyer re-examines his familial relationships along with the evidence. Honestly, this one seems pretty cliché, but performances by the leads could raise it up.
“Book of Life” (Oct. 17)
If you want to celebrate Halloween without veering into straight-up horror, this Guillermo del Toro produced film might be up your alley. Zoe Saldana and Channing Tatum lend their voices to a yarn centered on Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos. Early impressions are positive, so it seems like fun for the whole family.
“Fury” (Oct. 17)
Brad Pitt leads an all-star cast who play soldiers behind enemy lines in World War II Germany. No, it’s not a sequel to “Inglourious Basterds.” This film actually seems like early awards-bait, but the release date was moved up a month at the last minute to a less competitive time, so the studio’s faith in it might be wavering.
“Paranormal Activity 5” (Oct. 24)
Vampire ghosts or something terrorize some people as part of a hidden camera show. Who really knows? Who really cares? These movies have a huge profit margin, and that’s all the studio cares about. If you want a scary movie in time for Halloween, you’ve got a choice between this and “Ouija.” Yeah…

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