Prometheus (June 8th) – In 2004, when Alien vs. Predator was the next instalment of anything remotely related to the Alien franchise, I became one of the many Alien fans who thought that they would die before ever seeing another truly Ridley Scott/H.R. Giger influenced Alien film. But when talk and teasers of the decade long ‘in the works’ Alien prequel Prometheus began to hit the web about a year ago, I was absolutely astounded.
Prometheus is about a research team that travels to the farthest corner of the universe to uncover the dark secrets of our origins. That is really all I can say for certain is happening in the film, as the other snippets of alien spacecrafts (a simultaneously dazzling and haunting nod to Alien and Aliens) and sweaty men and women screaming are all part of the fascinating enigma that is Prometheus. With an all star cast that boasts names like Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, and Idris Elba, it seems like Scott isn’t taking any chances with a cast of unknowns.
To really grasp the awesomeness that Prometheus promises, let’s go back to 1979 when Scott directed Alien which would become one the most integral and innovative space travel films since Stanley Kubrick’s symphonic sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The mould Kubrick set in place envisioned a bright and polished future where space travel happens on neat commercial spacecrafts with super intelligent sentient A.I. Scott’s Alien ripped this crystalline vision in two as Ellen Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) commercial mining spacecraft the Nostromo is depicted as a grey, industrial monstrosity where every command is painstakingly manually inputted into clunky and beaten up computers. Scott created the first remarkably unique hybridized film that has sci-fi proclivities but operates with all of a slasher’s intentions.
In what some diehard fans are calling a gutsy move, Scott has said that although Prometheus’ events precede Alien, Prometheus will not be directly connected to any original characters; there will be no alien creature, and no Weaver cameo. Instead, Prometheus’s mysterious nature suggests long awaited answers to the questions burning in the minds of fans since 1979: what are the origins of this mysterious Xenomorph species, where did they come from, and what does their existence have to tell us about ourselves? (Brandon Bastaldo)
Moonrise Kingdom (June 1st, limited) – Ahh, summer camp. The time where little boys and girls become young adults, fall in love, and get into wacky misadventures. Granted, I was never a scout like the youngsters in Moonrise Kingdom, but I did go on enough camping trips to know what the woods are like. I’ve also seen enough films about summer camp to know just how wacky and whimsical the whole thing could be.
Speaking of wacky and whimsical, this latest charmer from Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums director Wes Anderson looks to fall nicely in line with his previous canon of films about misfits and outcasts searching for their place in the world. The blurb for this film pretty much writes itself. An all-star cast – including Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, and Anderson staple Bill Murray, just to name a few – stars in this tale of two twelve year olds in a coastal New England town who fall deeply in puppy love with each other and decide to run away together while the adults begin the frantic and comedic search for them before a big storm hits.
Anderson might be a “love him or hate him” name amongst filmgoers, since his portraits of affluence and whimsy might rub people the wrong way, but with a summer release date and some new blood in his cast of usual actors, Moonrise Kingdom might be the first film to garner Anderson some widespread box office acclaim. Then again, I thought the same thing about the delightfully underrated Fantastic Mr. Fox, but at least Anderson has something this year to appeal to the art house crowd looking to have their heartstrings tugged at with a few laughs along the way.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22nd) – There hasn’t been a more surprising trailer this season than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Its mix of early American gothic mixes perfectly with a vampire tone, young Lincoln spins a silver-edged axe like a badass ninja, and the whole thing avoids any irony whatsoever. This is unexpected if you, like me, haven’t read the book and assumed the title indicated that this was a pretty funny joke. It’s not. Time to man up.
Hunter tells the secret story of America’s 16th President. The plot follows Lincoln’s real life moments, like his struggle to become president and the Emancipation Proclamation (which freed the slaves), but the twist here is that Lincoln spent his early years hunting vampires and only became involved in politics to stave off a massive vampire rebellion.
In the role of Lincoln is Benjamin Walker who, amazingly, already has some experience playing reinvented cross-genre presidents. Walker received accolades for the off-Broadway musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson where he plays the emo-rock President Jackson struggling to form the Democratic Party. Director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) obviously saw value in a man who understood such a challenge. But this is no musical, Bekmambetov is aiming his movie directly at hardcore action fans. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the popcorn movie of the year. (Brian Crosby)
Brave (June 22nd) – As long as the word “cars” isn’t in the title, the release of any Pixar movie is cause for celebration. With the freedom only a string of over $600 million hits can provide, they are a studio driven entirely by creative impulses. Granted, they still have to cater to a family friendly demographic, but they seem driven to tell the best possible story within those G-rated parameters while hitting on universal themes and jokes that will connect just as well with an ADD-addled toddler as an elderly malcontent or a stoned college freshman. This year Pixar will dip their toes into the fairytale pool for the first time in what looks to be a gorgeous eyeball-tickling spectacle.
Initially announced in 2008 as The Bear and the Bow, the film will be something of a Scottish fable. It’s about a defiant princess and skilled archer who is determined to find her own path in life. After showing up all the guys competing for her hand in marriage in an archery competition, she somehow unleashes chaos and fury and has to use all her skills to save the kingdom. Or something like that. Pixar is pretty good about playing their cards close to the chest, so we won’t really know the full extent of the story until it’s released. In a world where countless websites reveal as much information as possible about every film before trailers are even premiered, that’s a good thing. It’s also nice to know that Pixar have earnestly embraced their fairytale format and this won’t be yet another one of those pop-culture fueled “fractured fairytales” that have packed theaters with children and disinterested parents since Shrek.
As a displaced Scot in love with the motherland, I also can’t pretend I’m not excited about a voice cast packed with the likes of Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Kevin McKidd, and Robbie Coltrane unleashing their accents at full force. With it being a Pixar joint, we can guarantee they’ll all have characters worthy of their talents as well. On a technical level, everything that has been seen from the movie looks set to stunningly fill a big screen, both true to the Pixar house style and featuring a painterly attention to the details of the lush landscapes. With the studio’s multi-Oscar-winning stalwarts Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton having left the fold to pursue live action endeavors, this will also be the debut of one of the first projects from the new generation of Pixar directors allowed to play in their digital playground, so it should be interesting to see how that works out. All-in-all, there’s plenty about Brave to get your inner-child all riled up. Oh and did I mention that Larry The Cable Guy will absolutely not be involved? That’s important, too. (Phil Brown)
Piranha 3DD (June 1st) – The first promise of Piranha 3DD is that it has more boob in it. Seriously, the extra dimension is not for Smell-O-Vision (probably best for a fish movie) but for bust size; the way you read the title is ‘Piranha 3 Double-D’. But if you’re already a fan of the Spring Break horror send-up Piranha 3D, then simply ‘more boob’ is a hard sell.
In the last movie, the monstrous paleo-piranhas were released from their aquatic ‘Land Before Time’ by an earthquake. They ravaged a lake-side town during party week and were clearly not destroyed as believed. This time, the piranhas have returned in force and are winding their way through the town’s plumbing and into the bathtubs of beautiful naked women.
One of the great draws of this series is the cast. The first movie starred Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd who was basically playing Doc Brown. This time Rhames and Lloyd are back along with waterpark owner David Koechner and David Hasselhoff playing an asshole version of himself (so, himself).
If you’re still on the fence about this, worried that Piranha 3DD is a lame, tame Spring Break monster movie, there is one shot in the trailer that will probably decide it for you. The trailer implies that that beautiful bathtub woman doesn’t get eaten by the piranha but instead it enters her vagina without her knowledge (or consent) and later the fish bites off a man’s penis during coitus.
Now, call me disturbed, but that’s a movie I want to see. (Brian Crosby)
Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1st) – To get a good idea of how very epic Snow White and the Huntsman will be you need only compare its promotional poster to Mirror Mirror, a recent film of the same source material,. Clutching a ruby red apple with a quaint smile, Julia Roberts’ rendition of the Evil Queen (one of the most sinister and enduring villains from well known fairy tale Snow White) was a sugar coated version of the witch to top all witches.
I mean seriously, before the Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West, the Evil Queen played host to the worst nightmares of kids across the globe, and this is why first time director Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman looks so damn good. Starring the glamorously pale Kristen Stuart as Snow White, Aussie hulk-hunk Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman, and the beautifully ardent Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen Ravenna, it’s quite clear that Snow White and the Huntsman has a bedazzled roster. Putting a twist on this classic tale, we see the Evil Queen conquer several kingdoms only to find out that Snow White, prophesied as being the future ruler and ‘fairest of them all’, is the only obstacle standing between Ravenna and complete domination. The Evil Queen sends the Huntsman into the woods to kill Snow White, but he soon finds out that Snow White is the key to the salvation of the oppressed masses now living under Queen Ravenna’s tyrannical reign.
Sander’s envisioning of the Dark Ages looks like a mash up of Middle Earth and scenery from any Harry Potter film, and I really couldn’t be happier about this. Finally, someone has decided to hack away the thick layers of candy gloss that the 1937 Walt Disney adaption of this generally bizarre and macabre source material has been coated in for the last 70 years. I mean, the Brothers Grimm have the Evil Queen wanting to eat Snow White’s heart and after seeing Theron’s authentic transformation into serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, I think that we’re in for one hell of a ride. (Brandon Bastaldo)
Rock of Ages (June 15th) – Adapted for the screen, Rock Of Ages is a jukebox musical that uses 80s hair metal to piece a story together. You’ll find the plot familiar: the mayor introduces his town to clean living after deciding there is too much sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. The free-living teens have a different opinion which they express in several reprises of ‘We’re Not Going To Take It’.
The film version has a lot going for it. It was written by Justin Theroux (Tropic Thunder) and directed by Adam Shankman. Shankman is a choreographer turned director who started with Rom-coms like The Wedding Planner. He has hit his mark recently with projects like Hairspray, Prop 8: The Musical, and episodes of Glee.
The cast is outstanding. Bryan Cranston plays the rock-n-roll hating mayor, Alec Baldwin plays the forever young club owner, and Tom Cruise does that funny/asshole thing he does as Stacie Jaxx, the biggest rock star on the planet (Can he save Rock-N-Roll?!?!). Ages also includes Catherine Zeta-Jones, Julianne Hough, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, and Will Forte. Christ! It shouldn’t even matter what this movie is about. If all those names don’t make you want to see it, you hate fun. (Brian Crosby)
Also out in June in limited release (meaning possibly not in all or any Canadian markets right away):
Battlefield America (June 1st)
Lola Versus (June 8th)
To Rome with Love (June 22nd)
Madea’s Witness Protection (June 29th)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (June 29th)
People Like Us (June 29th)
Take This Waltz (June 29th)