Autumn film preview 2013: The best mainstream releases

Hollywood Highlights: Big Shots

Thor: Dark World

Thor: Dark World, Gravity and The Counsellor among this autumn's finest big-budget upcoming movies

The biggest story in multiplexes this autumn is the continued development of Marvel’s Avengers universe with Phase 2 super-sequel Thor: The Dark World (30 Oct). Following on from the events in last year’s Avengers Assemble, the hammer-wielding Chris Hemsworth will step up to take on interdimensional beings ‘older than the universe itself’.

Gravity (18 Oct), Alfonso Cuaron’s long-awaited follow-up to 2006’s Children of Men, sticks with a sci-fi theme, but has a much starker sense of terror at its heart. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock star as astronauts cast adrift outside the Earth’s atmosphere; the slew of trailers released so far suggest a truly nail-biting 90 minutes.

Tom Hanks builds on his history of being marooned (a la Cast Away, Apollo 13 and, er, Joe Versus the Volcano) with another trip on the high seas, this time as the titular character in Captain Phillips (18 Oct). A modern-day piracy thriller based on a true story, Phillips has Cap’n Hanks and the freighter under his control held to ransom by Somali pirates.

An all-star cast have lined up for Cormac McCarthy-penned thriller The Counsellor (15 Nov), directed by Ridley Scott. Michael Fassbender takes the lead role as a lawyer who gets in too deep after becoming involved in drug trafficking; Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt are among characters he encounters.

Horror-wise, the autumn release that’s attracting most attention is the reboot of Carrie at the hands of Boys Don’t Cry director Kimberly Peirce. Peirce is an interesting choice to helm a story that’s been the subject of numerous feminist critiques in the past; on the other hand, the casting of Kick-Ass star Chloë Grace Moretz as the vengeful girl on the edge of puberty fits perfectly.

Tackling more post-adolescent urges is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who’s making his directorial debut with Don Jon (15 Nov). It looks to be a solid, character-based romantic drama about a regular guy who only cares about certain things in life: his body, his pad, his ride, his family, his church, his boys, his girls … and his porn. How this works out with new romantic interest Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) remains to be seen.

Finally, the finest family release of the fall is a follow-up to 2009’s funniest food fight. The trailer for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (25 Oct) suggests a return to the warm, witty, pun-filled antics that made the original film such a resounding success.


  • 2 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 40min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Kimberly Peirce
  • Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Celal Taskiran
  • UK release: 29 November 2013

Kick Ass's Moretz stars as the titular teen harbouring dark powers in this remake of the Brian De Palma classic.

Captain Phillips

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 2h 14min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Paul Greengrass
  • Cast: Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, Max Martini
  • UK release: 18 October 2013

Bourne helmer Greengrass directs the true story of Captain Richard Phillips and his crew's encounter with Somali pirates aboard the Maersk Alabama.

Thor: The Dark World

  • 2 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 52min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Alan Taylor
  • Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman
  • UK release: 30 October 2013

Thor (Hemsworth) returns to Asgard to find the peace threatened by the re-emergence of old enemies the Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Eccleston). Despite experienced director Taylor, it's less satisfying than Branagh's original; Thor has become one-dimensional and the greater emphasis on humour makes for a more uneven style.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2: Revenge of the Leftovers

  • 2 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 35min
  • U
  • Directed by: Cody Cameron/Kris Pearn
  • Cast: Voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Will Forte
  • UK release: 25 October 2013

In the aftermath of the original film's food storm, Flint Lockwood (Hader), Sam (Faris) and the others join corporate scientist Chester V (Forte) as part of a team to clean up the town, only to find that Flint's food replicator is merging food with animals. Busy but unappealing rehash.

Don Jon

  • 3 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 30min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore
  • UK release: 15 November 2013

Jon (Gordon-Levitt) is a porn junkie whose shallow attitude to women is challenged when he meets Barbara (Johansson). Gordon-Levitt is a likeable actor and as a writer-director he shows promise, but there's a lack of balance between the laughs and bravado of the first half of the film and the more sensitive approach taken…