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New in Theaters September 19: The Guest, Maze Runner, Walk Among the Tombstones, Where I Leave You

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By Chris Kavan - 09/18/14 at 09:44 AM CT

After a rocky start to the month, September looks to ramp things up, if not be quality, then by sheer volume. No less than four new movies are opening - not to count the limited release movies from last week (like The Drop), that are likely to expand wide. But bunching up so many movies is a gamble, especially when you have clashing genres. Luckily, there is quite a bit of variety going into the weekend, still, we are going to see some definite winners and losers, and here are your contenders:

THE MAZE RUNNER Ah, the highs and lows of adapting a literary best seller that targets a teen audience. And let's face it - it has been mostly lows. We have Twilight, The Hunger Games and Divergent on the winning side and on the losing side - so many more, Beautiful Creatures, Mortal Instruments, The Giver, The Host, Vampire Academy - I could go on, but you get the picture. What it boils down to is a popular book does not translate to a popular movie - and Maze Runner may be the latest in that line. But, it has one thing going for it - it's the only movie in theaters right now that will be going after the tween to young-adult crowd. That may be enough to give it the edge and, I have to say, what I have seen does may the movie look interesting. The movie is made up of a mostly unknown cast - Dylan O'Brien is mostly known for Teen Wolf - and most of the rest of the younger, male cast also has mostly TV roles. It's a gamble, but likely helped keep the production cost down (though they have obviously spent a lot on marketing). We'll see if this can buck the trend and actually become the next successful book-to-film adaptation, or if we're going to be looking at yet another mediocre to poor showing for this particular brand of film.

A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES When in doubt, cast Liam Neeson. It's almost a given that anything he stars in is going to crack the $50 million mark. In fact, since Taken launched him as the go-to elder statesman badass, only one of his action films (The Next Three Days) has failed to crack that mark (and I don't know if you can really count that since he wasn't truly the "lead" in that one anyway). Non-Stop? $91.7 million. Taken 2? $139.85 million. The Grey? $51.58 million. Heck, even his voice is enough to inspire - The Lego Movie grossed over $257 million (okay, so Neeson probably didn't have a lot to do with that one...). Anyway, the point is action movie + Liam Neeson = at least $50 million. Even if A Walk Amongst the Tombstones doesn't seem to offer much in the originality department, I have no reason to think this won't wind up in the same ballpark - even if he does seem like the only truly recognizable name in the cast. On his name alone, the movie should coast to a nice opening - maybe even giving The Maze Runner a run for its money.

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU So far, we have a solid action film and a movie targeting young adults - now we're moving on to a well-rounded comedy. The ensemble cast for This is Where I Leave You looks fantastic: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda, Connie Britton, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Dax Shepard and Timothy Olyphant - a great mix of some outstanding comedians - both new and seasoned - along with some great personalities. Even if the plot seems a bit trite (siblings forced to live together once more following their father's will) - the fact it's this good of cast might make the viewing worth it. Once again, there hasn't been a decent comedy since Let's Be Cops hit five weeks ago - so if moviegoers are aching for a smile, this could propel the film to a nice return.

THE GUEST It's a good thing The Guest is opening a couple days early - because I believe it's going to be the odd man out over the weekend. Mumblegore veteran Adam Winegard (You're Next) directs this story about a son who dies on the battlefield only to have a fellow solider "friend" show up at his house - followed by a series of mysterious deaths. Dan Stevens (looking like he's channeling a bit of Ryan Gosling) is the soldier friend who causes not end of trouble for the Peterson family. Also, I see Lance Reddick is on board, so it can't be all bad, All in all - it actually looks interesting, but I think it's going to be overlooked as Walk Among the Tombstones is likely to take most of its audience away. This is the kind of movie I will look for on Netflix - just to check it out. Winegard has been pretty good in what I've seen - it will be interesting to see what his take is here.

The month is going to certainly rev up with all the new offerings. With a bunch of different genres competing for audience attention, we'll see what people are really starved for. Hopefully we'll finally have a big weekend to combat the rather dull September we've seen so far.


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