Summer 2014 is officially here, and as the kids prepare for three-odd months of freedom, the question of what to do with your free time arises. Temperatures start to soar and the air conditioned movie theater becomes your oasis. There’s quite a bit worth seeking out this month with a spate of big-budget blockbusters and smaller indie fare. Time to get a summer job, if you don’t have one already, to pay for these ten movies worth seeking out in June!
Synopsis: A vagrant (Jan Bijvoet) becomes enmeshed in the life of a wealthy family, drawing everyone into his world in order for him to take over theirs.
What You Need to Know: One of the weirder entries into this list is Dutch director Alex van Warmerdam’s “Borgman,” the story of a transient and the family whose life he infiltrates and corrupts. When our own Jessica Kiang saw it last year at Cannes, she compared van Warmerdam to other surrealistic directors like Ben Wheatley (“A Field in England”) and Yorgos Lanthimos (“Dogtooth”) with a little Michael Haneke (“Amour”) thrown in. All of these names situate “Borgman” as a wildly caustic film with humor as black as night, and the trailer presents a twisted story without giving too much away. Kiang gave the film an “A-” back at Cannes, calling it a “modern adult fairytale (Grimm Brothers rather than Hans Christian Andersen).” The buzz has stuck around as “Borgman” also secured the number 22 spot on our 40 Most Anticipated Movies of the Summer list. If you’re sick of family comedies or bombastic summer fare and want something messing with your mind, “Borgman” is for you.
Release Date: June 6th in limited release
“Edge of Tomorrow”
Synopsis: When an alien race invades Earth, Lt. Col. Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) is tasked with a suicide mission in order to defeat the enemy. Within minutes he’s killed and forced into a time loop where he reenacts combat and death, over and over again.
What You Need to Know: The easiest comparison to make regarding “Edge of Tomorrow” is the similarities to Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day,” one of the more iconic movies about time loops. Time loops also reared their ugly head in Duncan Jones’ 2011 thriller “Source Code.” If anything, those two movies are worthy beginnings for Cruise’s big-screen adaptation of the Hiroshi Sakurazaka “light novel,” “All You Need Is Kill.” Cruise’s best work of late has been in the action genre, and last year’s sci-fi actioner “Oblivion” secured Cruise his best North American opening outside of the “Mission: Impossible” series. (And there are several similarities between “Oblivion” and “Edge of Tomorrow.“) Cruise seems to be sticking to what works in light of his failures outside the action genre (“Rock of Ages,” “Valkyrie”). The trailers are certainly jammed with action, even if you start to wonder whether Cruise is rehashing “Oblivion.” Look for reviews to be highly divisive as evidenced by our Point/Counterpoint review of the film. Our own Drew Taylor gave it an “A-,” calling it an “outrageously fun thriller that sees the biggest actor of our age come back to vibrant life.” Unfortunately, Gabe Toro wasn’t feeling the same sentiments, giving the movie a “D,” for its “anti-movie” tone, “just another day at work for one of the world’s biggest stars…” Cruise’s name is deeply associated with “Edge of Tomorrow,” and the film’s success or failure is going to determine his own. Either way, this is a movie you’ll want to watch in order to debate its merits or flaws at the water cooler.
Release Date: June 6th
Synopsis: Aspiring comedian Donna (Jenny Slate) is confronted with serious life decisions after losing her job, getting dumped, and discovering she’s pregnant.
What You Need to Know: Director Gillian Robespierre’s debut feature, based on her short film of the same name, “Obvious Child” was a breakout hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The story of a comedian and her decision to have an abortion is being touted as one of the more realistic depictions of pregnancy with massive amounts of comedy providing levity. Our own James Rocchi found the film “tough and funny, true and snappy…well made and wickedly bold” in his “B-” review. Star Jenny Slate also garnered a spot on the Playlist’s 20 Breakout Actors, Directors & Talents From the 2014 Sundance Film Festival list. The trailer displays a movie with a healthy dose of humor and heart, and “Obvious Child” is prepped to be one of several fantastic offerings from the burgeoning A24 studio in 2014.
Release Date: June 6th
“22 Jump Street”
Synopsis: Detectives Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) go undercover at a local college. However, college isn’t the big party they imagined it to be.
What You Need to Know: Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s adaptation of the ‘80s cop drama “21 Jump Street” was initially labeled another money-grubbing “reboot” of a franchise with little to offer for movie audiences in this decade. Little did we know Miller and Lord’s adaptation would become a $200 million dollar juggernaut during the sleepy March season. A sequel was a given from the jump (pun intended), and despite not everyone returning—sorry Brie Larson lovers—the core group of Tatum, Hill, and directors Lord and Miller are ready with a sequel that, hopefully, lives up to the first. The various clips and red-band trailers are solid, taking the antics to the next level with the duo entering college. Since the first “21 Jump Street,” Hill’s received a second Oscar nomination and Tatum’s looking at serious critical acclaim for “Foxcatcher,” so new fans will want to see how they do in this sequel, especially if they skipped the original, while old fans will clamor for further adventures from Schmidt and Jenko. “22 Jump Street” also snagged a coveted summer release date compared to the first’s March release, possible proof of Sony’s belief in this sequel pumping up the box office.
Release Date: June 13th
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
Synopsis: Viking Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) teams up with his dragon, Toothless, for another adventure to protect the peace of their village from the villainous Drago.
What You Need to Know: A lengthy time between sequels can be the death-knell of your franchise, especially if too much time’s allowed to pass allowing the memory of the first film to fade. It’s been four years since DreamWorks’ smash, “How to Train Your Dragon,” hit theaters, becoming the fifth-highest grossing film of 2010 and DreamWorks’ top earner outside of the “Shrek” series. Two sequels were quickly greenlit after the near $500-million dollar earnings of the first, obviously. (You won’t have to wait so long for the third; the release date’s already set for June 17, 2016.) Oliver Lyttleton enjoyed the further adventures of Hiccup and Toothless at Cannes, calling it the “top tier of the studio’s output.” Considering there’s little out there for kids unrelated to superheroes, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” couldn’t come at a better time.
Release Date: June 13th
Synopsis: In a world where civilization has entirely broken down, Eric (Guy Pearce) loses his car to a gang of thieves. Unfortunately, said thieves leave behind a wounded member (Robert Pattinson) whom Eric forces to be his guide in order to find the gang.
What You Need to Know: Australian director David Michôd’s crime drama “Animal Kingdom” garnered quite the critical attention back in 2010. The Academy also took notice, giving Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations to “Animal Kingdom” star Jackie Weaver. After that, audiences waited with bated breath for what insanity Michôd would create next. His latest pairs Australian actor, and “Animal Kingdom” co-star Guy Pearce with “Twilight” heartthrob Robert Pattinson. The post-apocalyptic road movie is quite the experience, according to Jessica Kiang who took in the drama at Cannes. While it doesn’t reach “Animal Kingdom‘s” heights, it “shows Michôd can work with other genres and textures, and still make a film that is unmistakably his.” The word “auteur” is bandied about too often, but Michôd is cementing himself as one of the newest crop. If “The Rover” proves its mettle like “Animal Kingdom” did, the sky’s the limit for the Aussie director.
Release Date: June 13th in New York and Los Angeles; expands June 20th
Synopsis: After moving to New York with her boyfriend, who subsequently dumps her, musician Gretta (Kiera Knightley) finds herself alone with nowhere to turn. While performing a song one evening, she meets Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a down-on-his-luck record label executive seduced by Gretta’s talent.
What You Need to Know: Director John Carney serenaded audiences with his 2006 musical “Once.” Since then, “Once” has transformed into an awards darling, recently winning a Tony for its Broadway adaptation. Carney’s been deliberate in the creation and filming of his follow-up. The film originally started out as “Can a Song Save Your Life,” a mouthful of a title, with plans for an awards campaign in 2013. After bowing at TIFF last year, the movie’s release date changed to this summer with the significantly shorter, although somewhat more generic, title of “Begin Again.” Kevin Jagernauth wasn’t as enchanted by the film as other critics have been. His TIFF review praises the engaging cast, particularly Mark Ruffalo. If anything, Carney’s love for “sunnier skies ahead” in his optimistic musical, and the fact that musical fans finally have something to look forward to (between this and Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys”), negative press won’t detract fans from humming Carney’s new tunes.
Release Date: June 27th in New York and Los Angeles; expands July 11th
Synopsis: “Snowpiercer” tells the story of a world mired in an apocalyptic Ice Age. The only survivors are residents of the Snow Piercer, a train traveling the globe, powered by a perpetual-motion device. Unfortunately, an evolving class system on the train threatens the residents’ stability.
What You Need to Know: Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s “Snowpiercer” has had a long ride to the theaters, probably as long as the characters riding the train of the title! When The Weinstein Company acquired the title, a battle brewed between TWC head, Harvey Weinstein and the film’s director over the film’s running time. TWC contractually owned the U.S. rights and approval over final cut, declaring that at least twenty minutes needed to be excised from the finished product. Arguments, both for and against cutting it were presented, and both TWC and Bong came to an agreement with the company allowing for the release of a director’s cut to be put out in limited release only. It was this director’s cut that our own Oliver Lyttleton saw last October, calling it a “crystallization of Bong’s status as one of our most exciting filmmakers” and declaring an alteration as “something close to vandalism.” The director’s cut is set to open the L.A. Film Festival on June 11th, and from there the director’s cut goes into limited release with a possible simultaneous roll-out to VOD. Fans, at this point, are eager to see the project which so stressed out the company and the director; the controversy could also ensnare newcomers to Bong’s work.
Release Date: June 27th in limited release
“They Came Together”
Synopsis: A parody of romantic comedies, “They Came Together” follows Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) who get together despite Joel’s company’s plans to shut down Molly’s business.
What You Need to Know: David Wain (“Role Models”) and Michael Showalter (“The Baxter”) are well-regarded for their quirky films about growing up. Wain’s 2008 movie “Role Models” was a success upon release, grossing almost $100 million worldwide, and receiving fairly positive reviews. Showalter’s film career, both in front of and behind the camera, has been a bit spottier. Regardless, the two are commonly identified with the 2001 summer camp comedy “Wet Hot American Summer,” itself recently greenlit for a Netflix prequel series. As fans wait for that, the duo have crafted an anti-romcom starring “Wet Hot American Summer” stars Rudd and Poehler. The trailer introduces a movie whose hatred for romance films is starkly apparent (“You like fiction books? I’ve never met anybody who likes fiction!”). Our own James Rocchi effusively praised the movie during Sundance this year for its “sharp, savage bite.” “They Came Together” should aid new fans in discovering Wain and Showalter’s past features in time for the Netflix prequel. And if you already despise romantic comedies, this should be on your must-see list.
Release Date: June 27th in limited release
“Transformers: Age of Extinction”
Synopsis: Humanity is picking up the pieces after the last great battle between the Transformers and the Decepticons. The battle looks to start anew when a man (Mark Wahlberg) discovers Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) and his friends.
What You Need to Know: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” is the “biggest movie of 2014” according to star Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg returns to work with director Michael Bay after last year’s “Pain & Gain,” replacing past “Transformers” lead, Shia LaBeouf. Wahlberg’s appearance could be arbitrary, considering fans of the Transformers series both pro- and anti-Michael Bay are going for the robots in disguise. The previous three installments in the franchise have cracked the top 100 highest grossing films of all time list, with 2011’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” amassing over $1 billion worldwide, $350 million domestic. It was presumed Bay would move on to other things after the last installment, especially after LaBeouf and Megan Fox announced they weren’t returning. (Fox is set to star in Bay’s adaptation of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” out in August.) Either way, audiences better enjoy Bay’s participation in the series, since both Bay and Wahlberg are signed on for at least two more in this new trilogy. The appearance of Dinobots in the trailer should reinvigorate fans, but expect these to be just as bombastic and overstimulating as the last three.
Release Date: June 27th