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Fall movie preview: A well-blended taste of Hollywood itself

David Germain Associated Press

Hollywood might be telling its own life story this fall, presenting a lineup of liars, phonies, smooth talkers, bloodsuckers and greedy old men.

Granted, there are heroes in the mix, including Robert Downey Jr. as the great detective in “Sherlock Holmes” and Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela in Clint Eastwood’s post-apartheid drama “Invictus.”

Still, rascals, rogues, beasts and baddies abound.

Vampires and werewolves spar in the season’s supernatural heavyweight, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” (Nov. 20), with Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson back for the second chapter of Stephenie Meyer’s vamp-schoolgirl romance.

Here’s a look at what else is in store, with scheduled release dates (subject to change):

Virtual people: James Cameron’s “Avatar” (Dec. 18) stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Cameron’s “Aliens” hero Sigourney Weaver in a 3-D saga in which human explorers embody clones of an alien race to explore their planet’s fantastic environment.

Bruce Willis’ “Surrogates” (Sept. 25) is a murder thriller set in a world where people live vicariously through robot replicas.

Living the lie: Ricky Gervais directs, co-writes and stars in “The Invention of Lying” (Oct. 2), featuring Jennifer Garner and Tina Fey in a comedy about an alternate reality where everyone tells the truth – until one man (Gervais) discovers the benefits of dishonesty.

“Ocean’s Eleven” collaborators Matt Damon and Steven Soderbergh reunite for the whistleblower tale “The Informant!” (Sept. 18), based on Kurt Eichenwald’s book about Archers Daniel Midland executive Mark Whitacre.

Money-grubbers: Crafted through the same motion-capture techniques and computer animation used on “The Polar Express,” Robert Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol” (Nov. 6) features Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts who show him the error of his miserly ways.

Michael Moore weighs in with “Capitalism: A Love Story” (Sept. 23), expanding the humor-and-heartbreak approach of his General Motors tale “Roger & Me” for an assault on corporations and financial speculators.

Cameron Diaz and James Marsden are forced into some serious money moralizing in “The Box” (Nov. 6), about a couple given a contraption that will deliver $1 million with the press of a button – at the cost of a stranger’s life.

Class acts: Hilary Swank stars as Amelia Earhart in “Amelia” (Oct. 23), co-starring Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor in the life story of the aviation pioneer.

“Invictus” (Dec. 11) reunites Freeman and Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby,” “Unforgiven”) for the story of Mandela’s partnership with a rugby star (Matt Damon) as South Africa’s team makes an underdog dash through the 1995 World Cup.

Downey and director Guy Ritchie inject some passion into cold-blooded rationalist “Sherlock Holmes” (Dec. 25), featuring Jude Law as sidekick Watson.

Joel and Ethan Coen return to their Minnesota roots with “A Serious Man” (Oct. 2), about the personal struggles of a physics professor in the late 1960s.

Jim Sheridan’s “Brothers” (Dec. 4) stars Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal in a drama about a U.S. Marine captain who returns from the dead to find that his black-sheep brother has stepped in with his wife and kids.

Peter Jackson adapts Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones” (Dec. 11), featuring Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg and Susan Sarandon in the saga of a murdered girl watching over her grieving family – as well as her killer – from beyond the grave.

Family fare: Singing rodents return in “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” (Dec. 25).

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are back as Woody and Buzz in 3-D versions of “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2” (Oct. 2), which play as a double-feature in advance of next year’s “Toy Story 3.”

Disney bucks the computer-animation trend with a throwback to its hand-drawn cartoon roots in “The Princess and the Frog” (Dec. 11).

The animated adventure “Planet 51” (Nov. 20) features the voices of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jessica Biel in the tale of an astronaut who discovers a world of tiny green aliens living the “Ozzie and Harriet” life of 1950s America.

George Clooney puts his silver tongue to use in Roald Dahl’s storybook “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (Nov. 13), about a chicken thief who battles nasty farmers.

With a voice cast including James Gandolfini, Forest Whitaker and Catherine O’Hara, “Where the Wild Things Are” (Oct. 16) casts an adventurous boy onto an island where he rules over an assortment of cuddly but unpredictable beasts in an adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic.

Singers and dancers: Rehearsal footage for the late King of Pop’s planned London comeback shows offer what’s sure to be one of the biggest music documentaries ever as “Michael Jackson: This Is It” (Oct. 28) hits theaters for a two-week run.

“Chicago” director Rob Marshall presents his next movie musical with “Nine” (Nov. 25), featuring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench and Sophia Loren in an adaptation of Federico Fellini’s “8 1/2.”

A new gang of young wannabes sharpen their talents in “Fame” (Sept. 25), an update of the 1980s film set at a high school for the performing arts.

Doomsday: The apocalypse hits in “The Road” (Oct. 16), adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel about a man (Viggo Mortensen) trying to fend for his young son.

John Cusack heads the cast of “2012” (Nov. 13) as survivors of worldwide cataclysms struggle on in the action tale from Roland Emmerich (“The Day After Tomorrow”).

Funny people: A rush of romantic comedies includes “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” (Dec. 11), with Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant as troubled spouses sent into witness protection; “Couple’s Retreat” (Oct. 9), featuring Vince Vaughn, Kristin Davis, Jon Favreau and Kristen Bell working out relationship kinks on a therapy vacation; and “It’s Complicated” (Dec. 25), about a woman (Meryl Streep) pursued by two men (Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin).

George Clooney takes to the skies in “Juno” director Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air” (Dec. 4), playing a corporate-downsizing specialist whose cherished life on the road is threatened.

“Old Dogs” (Nov. 25) features Robin Williams as a single guy forced to care for young twins he never knew he had.

AP Entertainment Writers Sandy Cohen and Ryan Pearson contributed to this report.
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