Ah, fall, that time of year when it's not just leaves that get grounded. Multiplex-wise, it's that time of year when you get a little breather from the superhero shenanigans of summer and get a little more gravity in your big-screen entertainment. Here's a preview of coming attractions from September to November.
Old and dangerous
In A Walk Among the Tombstones (Sept. 19) late-in-life action star Liam Neeson, 62, and director Scott Frank (The Lookout) hold the promise of finally doing movie justice to a Lawrence Block novel, with Neeson playing alcoholic gumshoe Matt Scudder on the trail of a kidnapper who has targeted a drug kingpin.
Based on the TV series of the '80s, The Equalizer (Sept. 26) stars Denzel Washington, 59, as a former covert ops agent looking to atone for his violent past by helping people in need, starting with a teen hooker (Chlo´ Grace Moretz) endangered by the Russian mob.
Fury (Oct. 17) looks to be an old-fashioned Second World War movie in which Brad Pitt, a sprightly 50, plays a tank commander showing the ways of the combat world to a green new recruit (Logan Lerman).
Tragedy plus time
This Is Where I Leave You (Sept. 19) stars Jason Bateman as a guy who simultaneously suffers the death of his father and the infidelity of his wife. At least he's given an opportunity to come to terms with his non-practising Jewish family (including mom Jane Fonda and sis Tina Fey) when he honours his dad's wish to sit shiva for a week with them.
The presence of Adam Sandler notwithstanding, director Jason Reitman's Men, Women & Children (Oct. 17) is a sober look at how the Internet and instant media have altered the family unit.
Simon Pegg plays a psychiatrist who decides to chuck it all and explore the world, looking to redefine happiness in the aptly titled Hector and the Search for Happiness (Oct. 3).
The talented folks who gave us the excellent stop-motion animated ParaNorman present The Boxtrolls (Sept. 26), about a lad who is adopted by some frightful but kindly trolls who happen to live in boxes.
Disney chooses live-action as the way to go with their adaptation of the children's book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Oct. 10) starring Steve Carell as the patriarch of a family enduring the titular temporal terror.
Mexican Day of the Dead imagery figures prominently in The Book of Life (Oct. 17), a computer-animated epic about a young man (voiced by Diego Luna) who must traverse three fantastic worlds to win the love of his sweetheart.
The only thing close to a Marvel movie this season is the Disney animated Big Hero 6 (Nov. 7), in which a juvenile computer whiz builds an impressive-looking but childlike robot to contend with a menace endangering San Francisco.
The sort-of prequel Penguins of Madagascar (Nov. 26) shows how that quartet of can-do penguins -- Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private -- got their derring-do mojo.
Teens save the world
Based on the young-adult novel of the same name, The Maze Runner (Sept. 19) is about a lad who wakes up in an amnesiac haze to find himself amid a group of other imprisoned teens attempting to solve the giant maze in which they find themselves.
The penultimate entry in the hit franchise, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1 (Nov. 21), the most cinematically challenging of the books, puts heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) at war with her totalitarian government.
David Fincher tends to get Oscar nominations, even when he doesn't deserve them (The Life and Times of Benjamin Button) and as he's at his best in thriller mode, we might expect a little Academy love for his film adaptation of Gillian Flynn's bestseller Gone Girl (Oct. 3), in which Ben Affleck plays a husband suspected of doing away with his mysteriously absent wife.
Playing an embattled father and son, Oscar-bait stars Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr. mix it up in The Judge (Oct. 10), the story of a son obliged to defend his cantankerous dad in a murder trial.
David Cronenberg directs an odd portrait of life in Hollywood with Maps to the Stars (Oct. 31), starring Julianne Moore as a frail star looking to play the role that made her mother famous back in the '60s. Also starring Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack and Robert Pattinson.
Trembling like a leaf
Remember that spooky doll in last year's The Conjuring? The horror chiller Annabelle (Oct. 3) tells her side of the story.
Dracula Untold (Oct. 17) professes to show how the real-life historical despot Vlad the Impaler became the legendary bloodsucker in this thriller starring Luke Evans.
A big-time exercise in product placement, Ouija (Oct. 24) attempts to inject supernatural scares into the innocent paranormal board game.
Dumb fun redux
Dumb and Dumber To (Nov. 14) is a long-delayed sequel to Dumb and Dumber, wherein Harry (Jeff Daniels) goes on the road to find the child he never knew he had, with pal Lloyd (Jim Carrey) along for the chaotic ride.
Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day go into business for themselves but still find themselves at the mercy of the title phenomenon in Horrible Bosses 2 (Nov. 26), also starring Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine.
Jeremy Renner portrays journalist Gary Webb, the guy who found a link between cocaine imports into the U.S. and the CIA in Kill the Messenger (October).
Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal) finds himself detained and brutalized in prison for 100 days in Rosewater (November), the directorial debut of The Daily Show's Jon Stewart.
A fraternal pair of Olympic wrestlers (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) find themselves in an awkward spot with paranoid schizophrenic team sponsor John Dupont (Steve Carell) in Foxcatcher (Nov. 14), directed by Capote's Bennett Miller.
The Imitation Game (Nov. 21) tells the story of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), the cryptologist who cracked the Nazi's Enigma code, helped invent the computer, and nevertheless suffered government persecution because of his homosexuality.