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Fall movies promise a good dose of sci-fi

Matthew McConaughey in

Matthew McConaughey in "Interstellar." Credit: Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. / Melinda Sue Gordon

An outer-space mission to save mankind, the inner thoughts of Stephen Hawking and the dystopian rage of Katniss Everdeen are all heading to movie theaters this fall. If there's a dominant theme in this season's lineup, it's an ongoing obsession with science and technology, be it fictional ("Interstellar," in which Matthew McConaughey takes one giant leap) or real ("The Imitation Game," about the godfather of modern computing, Alan Turing). Perhaps somewhere in between is Jason Reitman's drama "Men, Women and Children," about social interaction in the Internet age.

This eclectic fall season offers some old-fashioned fare, too, including an unusual number of mystery-thrillers, most notably David Fincher's "Gone Girl," starring Ben Affleck as a could-be killer, but also "The Judge," with Robert Downey Jr., and "Before I Go to Sleep," with Nicole Kidman. Rounding out the roster are animated features ("The Penguins of Madagascar"), self-improvement stories ("Hector and the Search for Happiness") and Oscar hopefuls such as the drama "Foxcatcher," starring an against-type Steve Carell.

And, finally, the 20-year wait for "Dumb and Dumber To," the comedy sequel starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, is over.

Here's a guide to this fall's major movies:

NEXT FRIDAY

Hector And The Search For Happiness A psychiatrist (Simon Pegg) travels the world to learn what makes people happy. With Rosamund Pike and Christopher Plummer.

The Maze Runner A teenage boy wakes up in a giant maze with no memory of what happened before. Based on James Dashner's young-adult novel. With Will Poulter ("We're the Millers") and Kaya Scodelario.

This Is Where I Leave You Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver and Jane Fonda play members of a dysfunctional family mourning a patriarch. Filmed largely on Long Island by director Shawn Levy ("Night at the Museum").

Tracks The true story of Robyn Davidson, who traveled the deserts of West Australia in 1977. With Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver.

Tusk Kevin Smith, of "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy," returns to theaters with a comedy-horror flick about a podcaster (Justin Long) who goes missing. With Johnny Depp, Haley Joel Osment and Genesis Rodriguez.

A Walk Among the Tombstones Liam Neeson plays Matthew Scudder, a former cop hired to find a missing woman. Based on a novel by the prolific detective-fiction writer Lawrence Block.

 

Sept. 26

Jimi: All is By My Side Andre Benjamin plays the legendary Jimi Hendrix in a biopic written and directed by John Ridley ("12 Years a Slave"). With Hayley Atwell and Imogen Poots.

The Boxtrolls From the stop-motion animation studio Laika ("Coraline") comes this story of an orphaned boy raised by underground- dwelling trolls. Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning and Tracy Morgan provide voices.

The Equalizer Denzel Washington, as a problem-solver for hire, reteams with director Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day") in a film inspired by CBS' hard-hitting television show. With Chloë Grace Moretz.

 

Oct. 1

Men, Women & Children The stories of modern-day folk grappling with Internet-based interaction. With Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner and Emma Thompson. Directed by Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air").

 

Oct. 3

Gone Girl Ben Affleck plays a man suspected of killing his wife (Rosamund Pike). Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay from her twisty-turny novel; David Fincher directs. With Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry.

Left Behind Nicolas Cage is Raymond Steele, a jumbo-jet pilot caught in the turbulence of the Rapture. It's a reboot of the Christian film franchise that initially starred Kirk Cameron. Directed by Vic Armstrong.

 

Oct. 10

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day A Disney version of the 1972 children's book starring Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Bella Thorne and Ed Oxenbould.

The Judge A successful lawyer (Robert Downey Jr.) returns to his Midwestern hometown and learns that his father, a prominent judge (Robert Duvall), is suspected of murder. With Vera Farmiga.

St. Vincent A drunken, dissolute war veteran (Bill Murray) reluctantly agrees to watch his neighbor's preteen son (Jaeden Lieberher). With Melissa McCarthy, Chris O'Dowd and Naomi Watts.

 

Oct. 17

Fury During the last month of World War II, a five-man crew in a Sherman tank must go behind enemy lines. With Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and Michael Peña. Written and directed by David Ayer ("End of Watch").

Birdman Michael Keaton stars in this meta-comedy about an actor who once played an iconic superhero. With Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton and Emma Stone. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu ("Babel").

 

Oct. 24

Laggies A dissatisfied woman (Keira Knightley) gets more than she bargained for at her 11th high school reunion. With Chloë Grace Moretz and Sam Rockwell. Directed by Lynn Shelton ("Your Sister's Sister").

 

Oct. 31

Before I Go To Sleep Christine Lucas (Nicole Kidman) has no memory of her car accident, but those around her seem to know more than they're telling. Based on the mystery by S.J. Watson. With Colin Firth.

Nightcrawler Jake Gyllenhaal stars in a drama about freelance crime reporters in Los Angeles. With Bill Paxton and Rene Russo.

 

Nov. 7

Big Hero 6 Disney's Marvel adaptation is a little different, an animated 3-D feature about a young boy and his robot. With the voices of T.J. Miller and Maya Rudolph.

Interstellar Christopher Nolan's epic stars Matthew McConaughey as an engineer who leaves Earth to help save humanity. With Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain.

The Theory of Everything A biographical drama about the brilliant, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne). With Felicity Jones.

 

Nov. 14

Dumb and Dumber To Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels return as Harry and Lloyd, no smarter than they were in 1994's "Dumb and Dumber." Written and directed by the Farrelly brothers.

Foxcatcher A nearly unrecognizable Steve Carell plays the eccentric, murderous millionaire John DuPont. With Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Sienna Miller.

 

Nov. 21

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1 Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson return as teens trapped in a totalitarian regime. Also starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died Feb. 2.

The Imitation Game Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, a hero for his World War II code-breaking who was later prosecuted for homosexuality. With Keira Knightley.

 

Nov. 26

Horrible Bosses 2 Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis return as browbeaten employees, this time running their own business. With Jennifer Aniston and Jamie Foxx.

The Penguins of Madagascar The characters from the Nickelodeon cartoon series -- and the DreamWorks franchise "Madagascar" -- get their own movie. With the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch and Ken Jeong.

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