Boom! There’s some big action exploding onto our screens in June, along with G.I. Joe: Retaliation and After Earth, listed here, you can see Sylvester Stallone getting back to his roots in Bullet in the Head and Gerard Butler’s save-the-President vehicle Olympus had Fallen (not half as interesting as the title suggests). If bullets and body-counts aren’t your thing, though, there’s enough to keep you entertained as the summer season begins.
by Christopher O’Keeffe
The Great Gatsby (out June 14)
One of the biggest releases this month is Baz Lurhman’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic, The Great Gatsby.
This isn’t the first time the book has been adapted for screen. There have been numerous versions over the years, the most memorable being the 1974 Robert Redford effort. This time around, the idiosyncratic Australian director whose last major release was Australia, back in 2008, takes the helm. Other past successes include Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge! (2001). The director has a flair for using striking visuals and a good musical sense, a useful blend when attempting to bring to life the lavish lifestyle and swinging parties of the Roaring Twenties.
In a novel twist, rapper Jay-Z provides the vintage-era inflected soundtrack. The story begins when Tobey Maguire’s First World War veteran Nick Carraway moves into a small house in an extremely affluent area of New York – the fictional town of West Egg. Young Carraway contacts his cousin Daisy, played by Carey Mulligan (Pictured above with Di Caprio), who is married to Tom, an old money playboy who cheats on his wife. It isn’t long before Nick hears of, and attends, one of the fantastically lavish parties, held weekly by the mysterious Gatsby, who lives right next door.
There are many questions surrounding this enigmatic individual, about his past and the source of his tremendous wealth, and his secrets and lies are revealed in the stirring conclusion to the tale.
Spring Breakers (out June 15)
If you didn’t catch Spring Breakers at last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, now’s your chance, as the film goes on general release this month.
The film is directed by auteur/provocateur Harmony Korine, who rose to fame after writing the script for controversial classic Kids at the age of 19. It stars former Disney channel golden girls Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez, alongside Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine, who is the director’s wife.
Helping the girls out of a tricky situation comes James Franco, who gives a wild performance as cornrowed drug dealer, Alien. The film has been as successful as it has been controversial on its release abroad, as it follows four college girls throwing themselves into a hedonistic orgy of sex, drugs and violence on their spring break vacation after having pulled an armed robbery to get the cash to do so. Not a film for Disney fans.
Maniac (out June 1)
Based on a 1980 cult slasher flick, Maniac follows serial killer Frank Zito on a murderous rampage that begins after the death of his mother. Frank is played by Elijah Wood, an actor better known for his boyish good looks and innocent persona, as portrayed in his iconic role as Frodo in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Wood has been seen before playing against type, with a small role in Sin City, and here he gives an immersive, terrifying performance as the story is told entirely from the killer’s point of view. Maniac first played at Cannes last year, causing much excitement amongst horror fans, and the stylish visuals and synth-heavy soundtrack from French composer ‘Rob’ makes it an interesting viewing – if you can stomach it.
After Earth (out June 21)
After last month’s Oblivion, with Tom Cruise, comes another sci-fi blockbuster featuring one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. This time it’s Will Smith, and he’s brought his son Jaden along for the ride. After Earth isn’t the first time the two have appeared alongside each other, Jayden’s first film role was in the The Pursuit of Happiness, again with his father, but while that was a modern tale of a father struggling with work and responsibilities, this time the pair are blasted into a post-apocalyptic future.
The Smith boys play, surprise surprise, a father and son – the unlikely named Cypher and Kitai Raige – who survive a crash-landing on earth 1,000 years after the human population abandoned it. The duo must now make their way across unchartered terrain in order to signal for help, fighting off dangerous animal species and an escaped, and extremely dangerous, alien along the way.
With the likes of I, Robot, I am Legend and the Men in Black series in his back catalogue, Big Willie is no stranger to sci-fi blockbusters, and if this can stand up to Oblivion and next month’s Matt Damon film Elysium, long may the trend continue.
Real (out June 1)
The most interesting Japanese film on release this month is the latest from director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Kurosawa made his name with horror films and crime based thrillers such as Cure and Pulse before changing tact and releasing the well-received family drama Tokyo Sonata.
That film won the prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes for the acclaimed director, and Real is his first film since. Based on the novel A Perfect Day for Plesiosaur by Rokuro Inui, the story is centred on a young brain surgeon named Koichi who is at a loss as to why his lover attempted suicide. Koichi finds a way to enter the subconscious of his coma stricken partner in an attempt to find answers to his questions and bring her back.
The film also stars Takeru Satoh, who played the lead in last years popular manga adaptation Ruroni Kenshin, and prolific actress Haruka Ayase, who starred in Ichi as the blind swords-woman.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (out June 8)
Children of the 60s, 70s and 80s will all have memories of G.I. Joe, whether those be of the toy, comic or cartoon iteration of the character. Fans had to wait until 2009, though, to see their beloved action figures in a big-budget live-action version, with G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Now, it’s time for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, where we again see the soldiers go up against the evil Cobra terrorist organisation, who have this time impersonated the President of the United States in order to blackmail world leaders and attain world domination (did you think of better than that when you played with the toys as a kid?).
With most of the team wiped out in an early attack, it’s up to survivors Roadblock, played by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Flint and Lady Jaye to save the day, with a little help from Bruce Willis’ ageing General Colton and a ninja, ‘Snake Eyes’. This first sequel sees most of the original cast jettisoned in favour of fresh faces, however original star Canning Tatum returns for a brief appearance along with a bigger role for evil ninja ‘Storm Shadow’, played by popular Korean actor Lee Byung-hun.
If you caught the first one you’ll know what to expect from this, big loud action and over-the-top, colourful characters. Perhaps best avoided by discerning adults but teenagers will get a kick out of the high-octane fight scenes and military action.