Adaptations of “Lovely Bones,” “Where the Wild,” “Mr. Fox” bode for a lively fall and winter

    The fall season usually brings a mixed bag for moviegoers, as the leftover blockbusters, big-studio award bait and small indie films finally make their way onto the big screen.
    Compared to last fall, this particular season has stirred up a lot of anticipation for more than a few films. Whether or not these films can live up to their frenzied hype will be the main question for audiences during the next couple of months.
    Starting with the biggest and the boldest: James Cameron’s “Avatar” will finally be released on Dec. 18. The film has been Cameron’s pet project for nearly two decades, and he’s spent a lot of that time building new cameras for its 3D technology and raising the nearly $250 million that the film’s budget required. Initial footage Cameron displayed at Comic-Con left some viewers lukewarm.   
    Another big-name director returns this fall on Dec. 11 with “The Lovely Bones.” Director Peter Jackson based this film on the dazzling, melancholy book of the same name. The story follows a young girl who is murdered and watches her family from heaven. “The Lovely Bones” promises a balance of grounded human emotion and fantastical imagery that Jackson knows well how to concoct.   
    One of the most publicized upcoming films is Guy Ritchie’s updated “Sherlock Holmes,” with Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law and Rachel McAdams. One might wonder why “Sherlock Holmes,” set for a Christmas release, didn’t fit in with the summer blockbusters. Hopefully it’s because “Holmes” will be a bit smarter than the average summer flick.
    Another favorite director, Wes Anderson, strays from his normal filmmaking path with an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” set for a Nov. 25 release date. With a precious trailer and a voice cast including George Clooney and Meryl Streep, the film should have no problem finding followers, even with Anderson’s polarizing reputation.
    Coming out the same day is director Rob Marshall’s newest musical, “Nine,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Dame Judi Dench and Kate Hudson. With a star-studded cast, fabulous music and costumes and an intriguing story focused on a tortured man and the women in his life, the movie is already rumored to be the front-runner at the Oscars.
    For those who like their weirdness prepackaged and pretty, Spike Jonze is releasing his take on Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book, “Where the While Things Are,” on Oct. 16. Taking a work of merely ten sentences and fashioning a feature film complete with dysfunctional families, nightmarish landscapes and loveable creatures, this film promises to be a must-see for more than just those with a penchant for the strange and unusual.
    A film that could be wildly entertaining or equally nauseating is Diablo Cody’s sophomore effort, “Jennifer’s Body,” premiering on Sept. 18. Starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried, the film is about Fox’s character, Jennifer, who starts eating boys after she is improperly sacrificed and a demon takes over her body. Considering Cody’s success writing “Juno” (2007), her newest film’s script is bound to be witty, but there has been some controversy over director Karyn Kusama’s interpretation of the screenplay.   
    Many moviegoers are also anticipating the second installment in the “Twilight” series. “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” is set for release on Nov. 20. While the first installment disappointed many fans, a larger budget and a new director may make “New Moon” bearable outside the preteen crowd. Director Chris Weitz has more experience with special effects than the previous director, something the introduction of Jacob (played by Taylor Lautner) and his pack of werewolves should put to good use. Once again, Kristen Stewart will star as Bella, a high school student in love with a vampire, but there will be a lot less of heartthrob Robert Pattinson as her love-interest Edward, since this novel focused primarily on the budding friendship between Bella and Jacob.   
    In terms of good comedy, the pickings are slim. One film that will hopefully not disappoint is “Couples Retreat,” coming out on Oct. 9, which is a story about four couples who go to an island in order to mend their marriages. Starring Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman and Kristen Bell, the film features a hilarious ensemble cast, but it remains to be seen if these stars can keep the laughs coming.
    A few other interesting films include Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, “Whip It!” with Ellen Page as a roller derby player, coming Oct. 9; an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” with Viggo Mortenson on Oct. 16; the story of Amelia Earhart, “Amelia,” starring Hilary Swank on Oct. 23; Richard Kelly’s “The Box,” with Cameron Diaz, on Nov. 6; and “Invictus” with Morgan Freeman starring as Nelson Mandela on Dec. 11.