After an explosive summer of major-event movies, things are cooling down as we head into fall.
By Christopher O’Keeffe
As usual there’s a noticeable absence of horror movies – Japan likes its horror served in the summer in order to put chills up sweaty spines. What October does have is just about every other genre catering for every taste. There’s a huge selection of films on release this month: sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, documentary, action, musical and more, not to mention the Tokyo International Film Festival. Check out our rundown below for six of the best on general release, and if you must see a horror movie this Halloween, well, there’s always ‘WolfCop’ (release September 24th)
Pan – October 31
Novel twists on classic children’s stories remain all the rage in Hollywood, as the timeless works of the world’s greatest authors are mined for movie material. After the likes of “Maleficent,” “Oz the Great and Powerful,” and “Alice in Wonderland” comes this inventive concoction that depicts the early life of Peter Pan. The story of the little boy who never grew up and his adventures fighting the dastardly Captain Hook in faraway Neverland are well known in both film and literature. In “Pan” the story is taken back to the beginning: we find out how young Peter arrives in Neverland and witness the origin of his relationship with the man who will become his most formidable enemy.12-year-old Peter lives a bleak existence in a grim orphanage when he’s whisked off to the fantastical kingdom one magical night. Trapped in the vast pixie-dust mining camp of dastardly pirate Blackbeard, the adventurous young boy teams up with roguish young pirate-in-the-making James Cook and fierce warrior Tiger Lily to escape the mine, learn to fly, fulfill a prophecy, and defeat the vile Blackbeard. Hugh Jackman camps it up as the villainous captain while “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”’s Rooney Mara, Amanda Seyfried, and model Cara Delvingne lend their support.
A Most Violent Year – October 1
Since his breakout role in the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis,” Oscar Isaac’s star has rapidly risen, and he’s set to hit the stratosphere later this year in the much-hyped “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Before shooting into outer space, the actor must slum it on the gritty streets of New York City for “A Most Violent Year.” In this brooding crime drama, Isaac plays Abel Morales, a heating oil company boss under pressure from competitive rivals, truck hijackings and the attentions of a tough Assistant District Attorney determined to expose the presumed illegalities in his violent business. After brokering a deal to buy an oil terminal, Morales finds himself increasingly under pressure and out of time. With his back up against the wall, will he succumb to his situation and answer violence with violence? Featuring a superb cast, Jessica Chastain plays Morales’s tough wife while David Oyelowo is the uncompromising D.A. Set in 1981—the Big Apple’s most dangerous year on record for robberies and murder—the crime and corruption of the city of New York itself provide the backdrop for this slow-burn thriller.
Fantastic Four – October 9
Featuring a fine cast of up-and-comers in Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell and helmed by a young director hot off the back of excellent indie hit “Chronicle,” what could go wrong with a gritty reboot for Marvel’s “first family,” the Fantastic Four? Well, alongside stories of studio interference, heavy rewrites, and erratic onset behavior from director Scott Trank and poor audience response to a downbeat, “dark” interpretation of the famously colorful characters, overseas reviews have not been kind to this superhero reboot. This latest interpretation sees a younger, angstier Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, Human Torch and The Thing gaining their incredible powers after being transported to an alternate universe. It’s not long before the similarly transformed villain Victor Von Doom also returns from the mysterious realm, forcing the team to put aside their problems and do battle for the greater good. See for yourself whether the film, like its super-powered bad guy, is really the monster it’s said to be—or whether it’s merely misunderstood.
Bakuman – October 3
Another month passes, another big-screen manga adaptation hits our screens. This time it’s the turn for writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata’s 2008–12 hit, “Bakuman.” The story follows the trials and tribulations of high-school student Moritaka Mashiro as he teams up with classmate Akito Takagi in order to put together and publish their first manga. Mashiro’s determined not to follow in the footsteps of his comic-artist uncle who died of exhaustion, but endeavors on the enterprise in order to fulfill a promise to the girl he loves. Takumi Satoh, star of last year’s smash hit—the live-action, two-parter “Ruruoni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno/The Legend Ends” takes the title role with fellow “Kenshin” alumni Ryonoukse Kamiki as his creative partner.
John Wick – October 16
With roles in “Point Break,” “Speed,” and “The Matrix” in his back-catalogue, Keanu Reeves has always done his best work in the action genre. Returning to the over-the-top fight choreography and frenetic gunplay of “The Matrix,” the laid-back actor is on top form in hard-hitting action thriller “John Wick.” A highly skilled but retired assassin in mourning for the death of his wife, John Wick is not a man to be messed with. When three Russian gangsters follow the ex-hit man home one night and murder his puppy, a gift from his late wife, it’s time to come out of retirement. An unapologetically violent and highly-stylized barrage of bullets ensues as our anti-hero returns to the underworld he fought so hard to leave behind. Willem Dafoe, John Leguiziamo and Ian McShane are just some of the fine cast of character actors appearing amidst the non-stop action for this ferocious, old school action ride.
The Intern – October 10
While its easy to pine for the days when a young Robert De Niro mesmerized audiences as unhinged loners and ice-cold mobsters, the acting great has proven himself a capable comedy actor when given the right role. In “The Intern” De Niro plays Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old widower who takes up the lowly position at a fashion based e-commerce company as part of a community outreach program. Anne Hathaway is the company founder and CEO under whom Ben must work. While Ben gets to grips with the fast-paced style of a modern dot-com firm, the driven young CEO and her internet-generation staff may just learn more about life, love, and work from the aging intern than he learns from them. With a producing career that stretches back to the 80s, and directing credits on acclaimed works like “What Women Want” and “It’s Complicated,” director Nancy Meyer has a solid history in the comedy field, and another possible hit on her hands with her latest.
The Best of the Rest
Finding Vivian Maier – Oscar nominated documentary that uncovers the life of a New York based photographer whose phenomenal body of work was only discovered after her death. (October 10)
Altman – Documentary that explores the life and times of legendary Hollywood filmmaker Robert Altman, director of MASH, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Nashville and many more. (October 3)
Turbo Kid – Retro 80s fun as a BMX riding kid rides around a post-apocalyptic earth and does battle with a scenery-chewing Michael Ironside. (October 3)
Pitch Perfect 2 – All-female singing group The Bellas return for another round of musical comedy. Breakout stars from the first film Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson return to head the ensemble cast. (October 9)
Magic Mike XXL – After three years out of the game, Channing Tatum’s Mike returns to the world of stripping for one last shot at glory in this comedy-drama sequel. (October 17)
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials – Sci-fi action sequel as the escapees from the first film enter the “Scorch,” a post-apocalyptic landscape filled with deadly obstacles. (October 23)