June is a monster month at the movies! There’ll be dinosaurs, Minions, space rangers and Elvis, with David Michael Brown bravely tackling all the biggest releases you’re keen to see below.
The casts of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World collide in a monster melee of teeth, claws and Jeff Goldblum. Steven Spielberg’s terrific original sent global audiences into a dino frenzy, spawning two sequels in the process. Then came Jurassic World which upped the frenetic action but lost that slow-burning sense of awe that made the first film so special. It also mucked around with dinosaur DNA.
So, who will win? Sam Neill or Chris Pratt? Laura Dern or Bryce Dallas Howard? The T-Rex or the hybrid horrors of the Indominus Rex? What we do know is that action takes place four years after the destruction of the remote island of Isla Nublar, the original location of the Jurassic Park dinosaur theme park and that humans and dinosaurs now co-exist, living and hunting alongside each other. What could go wrong?
A new film by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi is always a cause for celebration. It was his Oscar- winning A Separation in 2011 that made most Western cinemagoers stand up and take notice. The Past and The Salesman followed and then he made his first Spanish language film Everyone Knows in 2018 starring Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem. A Hero arrives not with a fanfare but with a court case.
Farhadi is being sued by documentary film student Azadeh Masihzadeh who claims the idea behind the film—inspired by the true story of Mohammad Reza Shokri, a man who returned a bag of cash he found while on a leave from a debtors’ prison—was hers. It’s a shame that this controversy will mire Farhadi’s brilliant film because once again he has delivered an enthralling and twisting morality play that constantly toys with audience allegiances.
Pixar goes meta in this Toy Story spin-off with a difference. Lightyear is the origin story of the fictional test pilot and astronaut whose daring escape from a hostile planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth inspired the Buzz Lightyear action figure featured in the Toy Story films. With a more realistic visual pallet and a voice talent line-up that boasts Chris Evans as the titular Space Ranger, James Brolin as Emperor Zorg and Taika Waititi as a member of Buzz’s task force. Hopefully, the Kiwi comic will keep his accent.
Directed by Finding Dory helmer Angus MacLane, a filmmaker who has already played in the toy box making Toy Story of Terror and the short Toy Story Toons: Small Fry, expect sci-fi tinged square-jawed heroics aplenty, to infinity…and beyond.
Bello! The sequel to the spin-off that itself was a prequel to the hugely successful Despicable Me films, Minions: The Rise of Gru starts where Minions left off. While the Despicable Me films focused on the master criminal Gru voiced by Steve Carell, the Minions films focus on his legions of diminutive underlings. It’s the 70s and the little yellow minions have finally met the friendly felon Gru: a 12-year-old trying to join a group of supervillains called the Vicious 6.
The vocal talent will have to be heard to be believed. As well as Carell, we will hear Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, the RZA, Alan Arkin, Danny Trejo, Lucy Lawless, Michelle Yeoh and Julie Andrews all lending their dulcet tones to proceedings. Here’s hoping we get to hear the Dame say, “banana!”
Men (June 16)
Not content with writing best-sellers like The Beach, scripting Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and the ultra-violent Dredd and adapting Kazuo Ishiguro’s sublime sci-fi Never Let Me Go, Alex Garland has proven himself to be a director of some talent. With an eye for a deft visual flourish and a willingness to unsettle his audience, his films have confounded and amazed in equal measure. Now, following the brilliant Ex Machina and the mind-bending Annihilation, comes the twisted folk horror of Men.
The Lost Daughter star Jessie Buckley stars as Harper Marlowe, a shattered woman holidaying to recover from a tragic incident. The always brilliant Rory Kinnear, best known for playing MI6’s Chief of Staff Bill Tanner in every Bond film since Quantum of Solace in 2008, is Geoffrey, the owner of the holiday house Harper rents. Kinnear also portrays the numerous “men” in the village that Harper visits.
Baz does Elvis in this lavish biopic of the King of Rock ‘n Roll. Knowing the Aussie director’s predilection for glitz and glamour, his version of the Elvis story, recently given the thumbs up by Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie, promises hip-swivelling and lip curling aplenty. The film will follow the “Hound Dog” singer’s career on stage and in the movies, and focus on his tempestuous relationship with his manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks under layers of latex).
Hot off the Jim Jarmusch zombie fest The Dead Don’t Die and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Austin Butler takes on the pivotal Elvis Presley and the film will rise or fall on his performance. We know that Luhrmann can deliver the bazz-a-matazz but can he rein in his extravagances to show us the story behind the rhinestone jumpsuits while a relative unknown struts his stuff on stage?
This Kiwi-Aussie co-production sees Flight of the Conchords star Jemaine Clement as a sexual healing talisman Bjorg Rasmussen—hopefully not channelling the Mike Myers flop The Love Guru—and Jackie van Beek (The Breaker Upperers) and Damon Herriman (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’s Charles Manson) as a suburban couple who visit a new-age retreat as a last-ditch attempt to save their failing marriage.
Experimental comedy Nude Tuesday looks to tell the naked truth about relationships in a unique, if bonkers, way. The comedy conceit is certainly a quirky one. All of the actors, oblivious to what they meant to be saying, talk improvised gibberish subtitled by Julia Davis (Love Actually), Ronny Chieng (Crazy Rich Asians) and Aussie funny lady Celia Pacquola. Here’s hoping that hilarity ensues.
The movie poster has always been an essential part of the modern publicity campaign for any films, an eye-catching image designed to lure the punters into the cinema. One hopes the disturbing poster art for The Black Phone featuring a masked Ethan Hawke’s toothy maw does not scare potential viewers away because, on the strength of the trailer, this looks terrifying.
Directed by Marvel alumni Scott Derrickson and based on the story by Joe Hill aka Stephen King Jr., the twisted plot is certainly intriguing as a 13-year-old boy abducted by a child killer known as The Grabber (Hawke) starts to receive calls on a disconnected phone from the killer’s previous victims. After his muscular performance in The Northman and a featured role in Moon Knight, it looks like the Before Sunrise actor is having a career renaissance of sorts with his chilling serial killer turn.