Including Elemental, The Flash, Indiana Jones and Spider-Man – Nicholas Barber lists this month’s unmissable releases.
(Credit: 21 Laps Entertainment)
1. The Boogeyman
The Boogeyman is all about slimy creatures that burst out of bedroom cupboards to prey on children – but don’t get it confused with Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. It’s adapted from a Stephen King short story, and directed by Rob Savage, whose Zoom seance chiller, Host, was one of the best films of 2020. If that weren’t recommendation enough, The Boogeyman is apparently so scary that it had to be re-edited because viewers at test screenings were screaming too much. “The first time you see the creature, the audience screamed so loud, and then immediately started talking with their neighbours and chattering, that they completely missed the next lines,” Savage told Empire magazine. “We had to recut it and build in 45 seconds of padding, just so they didn’t miss any vital information.”
Released globally from 1 June
(Credit: Paramount Pictures)
2. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
Five years on from the last Transformers film, the alien robots are back to cause more property damage, although this episode in the Hasbro toy franchise is something of a reboot. The first five films were all directed by Michael Bay, whereas this one is directed by Steven Caple Jr, who made Creed II. He has brought in the Maximals, who disguise themselves as animals rather than cars and trucks, added some new human companions (Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback), and set the action in 1994, when Optimus Prime, the Autobots’ leader, was still learning the ropes. “The thing that is unique to this movie is, we actually have a Transformer that has a character arc, and that’s Optimus,” the film’s producer, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, told Tamera Jones at Collider. “We’ve watched it with audiences and we’ve heard them talk about it – they’re like, ‘It’s definitely Optimus, but there’s something a little different…’ And by the end of the movie, Optimus has become the guy that you’ve recognised from the Bay movies.”
Released globally from 7 June
Pixar’s latest cartoon is set in Element City, a metropolis where everyone is made of one of the four classical elements: earth, water, air and fire. But what happens when a watery man (voiced by Mamoudou Athie) is attracted to a fiery woman (Leah Lewis)? Could things get steamy? The clever anthropomorphic concept is typical of the studio that made Inside Out, but the director of Elemental, Peter Sohn, says that his culture-clash romance is really about being the son of Korean immigrants in the Bronx, and then going on to marry a woman who wasn’t Korean. “I have so many memories of growing up in this shop,” Sohn told Sarah El-Mahmoud at CinemaBlend, “and all my dad’s customers came from everywhere and… left their homes to come to a new land, and they all were mixing into beautiful little neighbourhoods with their cultures and the languages. And so from that came this.”
Released on 6 June in the UK; released globally from 14 June
4. The Flash
There are two superhero blockbusters coming out this month in which the characters flit between alternate universes. Marvel’s offering is Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. DC’s is The Flash, in which the speedy Barry Allen accidentally creates a reality in which the Earth has no superhumans. Can he defeat General Zod (Michael Shannon), the Kryptonian villain from Man of Steel, who is alive and well in this new reality? The Flash is controversial, because its star, Ezra Miller, had legal and mental health troubles last year. That could be why the publicity has focused on his co-star, Michael Keaton, who is playing Batman again, three decades after he wore the black mask in Tim Burton’s films in 1989 and 1992. “Frankly, in the back of my head, I always thought, ‘I bet I could go back and nail that [character]’,” Keaton told Rebecca Keegan at the Hollywood Reporter. “And so I thought, ‘Well, now that they’re asking me, let me see if I can pull that off’… What’s really interesting is how much more I got [Batman] when I went back and did him. I get this on a whole other level now.”
Released globally from 14 June
5. Stan Lee
Stan Lee left a deeper imprint on today’s popular culture than almost any other single figure. As a writer and editor for Timely and then Marvel, he brought his own brand of energy, modernity, knowing humour and social relevance to the superhero genre, and he co-created dozens of characters who would redefine comics in the 1960s, before going on to dominate cinema in the 2010s: Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, The X-Men, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Black Widow and many more. He also made cameo appearances in nearly every Marvel film until he died in 2018. To celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday, this documentary, directed by David Gelb, charts how Stanley Lieber, the son of Romanian Jewish immigrants in New York, went on to create a universe.
Released on 16 June on Disney+
6. No Hard Feelings
A throwback to the days when raunchy Hollywood comedies regularly had cinema releases, No Hard Feelings stars Jennifer Lawrence as an Uber driver who is so broke that she loses her car, and could well lose her house. Her only hope is to answer a Craigslist ad from a couple who promise to give her a Buick if she will go out with their socially awkward 19-year-old son (Andrew Barth Feldman), and bring him out of his shell before he leaves for college. The strange thing about this premise is that it was inspired by a real ad which the producers sent to the director, Gene Stupnitsky. “Gene read the Craigslist ad to me, and I died laughing,” Lawrence told Lauren Huff at EW. “I thought it was hilarious… And then a couple years later, he handed me the funniest script I’ve ever read in my life.”
Released globally from 14 June
(Credit: Universal Pictures)
7. Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken
Is it a coincidence that this DreamWorks cartoon, in which a beautiful, red-haired mermaid is a savage villain, is coming out so soon after Disney’s The Little Mermaid? Well, yes, it probably is. But the makers of Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken must have had Ariel in mind when they were designing their tale of a 16-year-old schoolgirl who joins her mother (Toni Collette) and grandmother (Jane Fonda) in a war against the evil mermaids. “But at its core, it’s a story of a teenage girl who is trying to find her place in the world,” the film’s co-director, Kelly Cooney, told Nick L’Barrow at Novastream. “She has a secret that she has to keep and she’s not fully able to be herself in front of her friends and classmates. Eventually, she makes a leap that awakens a part of her and she turns into a giant kraken!”
Released globally from 28 June
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Credit: Lucasfilm)
8. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Harrison Ford may be two decades older than Sean Connery was when the latter played Indy’s doddering dad in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, but the 80-year-old Ford has plopped on his brown fedora for a fifth and final archaeological escapade. This time he’s accompanied by his god-daughter, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, as he races around the globe, desperate to find an ancient mathematical device before it falls into the hands of the villainous Mads Mikkelsen. “Fans of the adventure series are given a film replete with Indy staples: action, humour, mystery and his old foe, the Nazis,” says James Mottram in the South China Morning Post. “Director James Mangold, stepping in for Steven Spielberg, brings the character’s adventures to a satisfying close, while Ford revels in reprising the role for one last hurrah… With genuine emotion sewn into the story, it’s not just John Williams’ instantly recognisable score that hits the right notes.
Released globally from 28 June
9. War Pony
Riley Keough is best known for starring in Netflix’s Daisy Jones and The Six – and for being Elvis Presley’s granddaughter – but she has considerable behind-the-camera talent, too. Her debut film as a writer-director, War Pony is a tough but tender indie drama set on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Bill (Jojo Baptiese Whiting) gets a job as a chauffeur for a rich white poultry farmer, while 12-year-old Matho (Ladanian Crazy Thunder) takes up drug-dealing. Co-directed by Gina Gammell, and co-written by Franklin Sioux Bob and Bill Reddy, two Native American actors whom Keough met when they were extras on American Honey, War Pony won the prize for best first feature in the Un Certain Regard category at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. “War Pony is unhurried, naturalistic and heartbreaking,” says Steve Pond at The Wrap, “taking its rhythms from the lives of characters in a situation where the lack of options can lead to desperation or to resignation… [It has] the intimacy of a story told from the inside, not the outside.”
Released on 9 June in the UK & Ireland
10. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
In 2018, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse brought together numerous different animation styles to form a mesmerising pop-art masterpiece. It also brought together numerous different Spider-People. The wall-crawlers from various alternate realities included a new Spider-Man, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a familiar one, Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), and a Spider-Woman, Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld). And that was just the beginning. The sequel is due to span six parallel universes, and to feature 240 characters, many of them Spider-related: Oscar Isaac, for instance, provides the voice of the Spider-Man of the year 2099. “Keep in mind, Miles, right out of the gate, saved the whole multiverse in the first film,” Kemp Powers, the co-director, told Rafael Motamayor at IndieWire. “Now he’s having to step back and manage life and family, and realise he was never the ‘friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man,’ he was ‘the save-the-multiverse Spider-Man’.”
Released globally from 1 June
11. Asteroid City
Wes Anderson’s latest postmodern comedy is set at a stargazers’ convention in a US desert in the 1950s – and it has no shortage of stars to gaze at: the stellar cast features Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Tilda Swinton, Jeffrey Wright, Steve Carell, Edward Norton, and many more. Anyone resistant to Anderson’s signature style might feel that the cast is not enough to keep them watching, but fans of his pastel colour schemes, symmetrical compositions, and deadpan dialogue will be over the moon. “Asteroid City’s eccentricity, its elegance, its gaiety, and its sheer profusion of detail within the tableau frame make it such a pleasure,” says Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. “So, too, does its dapper styling of classic American pop culture. With every new shot, your eyes dart around the screen, grabbing at all the painterly little jokes and embellishments, each getting a micro-laugh.”
Released globally from 8 June
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