The June 2016 Movie Preview

Welcome to my monthly movie preview, where this month we're celebrating Sequel Month! Five of June's eleven nationwide releases are sequels for franchises of varying degrees of deservedness. Sharks, aliens, and Kevin Hart - these are just a few of the threats waiting to thrill audiences this month.

In Theaters June 3

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

At a Glance: Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island star in this mockumentary about Conner4Real, a pop superstar whose career is on the verge of ruin when his latest album flops. "Popstar" parodies the string of biographical films (of questionable necessity) released in the last few years by artists like Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and One Direction.

Why I'm Excited: Following last year's "What We Do In The Shadows," I'm ready for another hilarious mockumentary and The Lonely Island seems ready to deliver. The trio have proven comedy chops and not only star, but wrote and co-produced the film. In one way or another, their work has become a part of my daily life. I'm looking forward to seeing what they've come up with here.

Me Before You

At a Glance: Based on the best-selling romance novel by English author JoJo Moyes, "Me Before You" stars Emilia Clarke as Lou, a vibrant woman hired to care for a man struggling to find meaning in life after being paralyzed in an accident. Unshakably optimistic, Lou sets out to help him once again find happiness.

Why I'm (Maritally Obligated To Be) Excited: This is the first time I've seen my wife get excited about the prospect of seeing a romantic movie in theaters. When she learned I hadn't yet seen the trailer, it was a showstopper. She immediately consulted YouTube and we watched together. "Tear. Jerker," she exclaimed after. "We are totally going to see it."

Why My Wife Is Excited: "Me Before You" stars celebrities from some of her favorite worlds. Her favorites from "Game of Thrones," "Hunger Games," and "Doctor Who" all in one movie? Sign her up! Also I think she wants to see me cry in the theater because she's wicked.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

At a Glance: Everyone's favorite lean green fighting machines return in this Michael Bay-produced sequel to the critically despised 2014 money-maker. This picture sees the turtles take on a who's-who of fan favorites from the original cartoon including Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, and the alien Kraang.

Why (The Kid In Me) Is Excited: Growing up, there were three cartoons I really remember watching: X-Men, Spider-Man, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My obsession with the turtles was next level though. I wanted all of their toys. I played all of their games (including the one with that damned water level). My dad, a man always on the edge of technology, bought episodes of the show on ill-fated laser-disc.

Why (The Cynic In Me) Is Not Excited: I mean, come on. This is the definition of a "head-says-no, heart-says-yes" situation. Hopes for some nostalgia-fueled fun aside, there is almost no way this movie is anything more than terrible.

In Theaters June 10


At a Glance: The international hit video game franchise makes its big screen debut! As the orc homeworld crumbles, the sorcerer Gul'dan opens a portal to the distant world of Azeroth and launches a war of conquest for the human lands beyond. As the orcish horde ravages the world and the human kingdoms band together to repel them, heroes on both sides begin to question whether conflict between the two peoples is necessary.

Why I'm (Secretly) Excited: When I see this, I'll likely wear a disguise to avoid dying in shame if I'm spotted leaving the theater. Confession: I'm no stranger to the Warcraft universe. I've spent more than decade playing games in the franchise, including the juggernaut MMO World of Warcraft. Am I excited to see a movie translation of the iconic locations and characters? Sure. Just don't tell anyone.

But No Really, Why I'm (Not) Excited: I live by a set of rules. Rule number one is "Never get excited about video game movies." They're all garbage.

The Conjuring 2

At a Glance: Hot on the heels of their work in Rhode Island, Lorraine and Ed Warren to London to investigate another house with a bad case of the ghoulies.

Why I'm Excited: It's rare that a horror film does well both with critics and audiences, but the filmmakers behind the 2013's "The Conjuring" managed just that with critics giving the film a 86% on Rotten Tomatoes and CinemaScore audiences awarding it an A-. As this sequel boasts the same writing and directing team in addition to the same leads, I think it's chances are better than even.

Now You See Me 2

At a Glance: The Four Horseman are back for a second round of magic-meets-"Oceans 11" adventure. Threatened into pulling off their biggest heist yet by God and an evil Harry Potter, the team must do the impossible to expose the truth.

Why I'm Indifferent: The first film looked interesting but I never got around to seeing it. Nothing against this movie, it's just hard to get excited for a sequel to film I've never seen. I'll be sure to catch it on DVD before seeing this in theaters.

In Theaters June 17

Finding Dory

At a Glance: Perhaps the most anticipated Disney sequel since "Toy Story 3," "Finding Dory" follows the ever-forgetful Dory and her friends on a trans-oceanic adventure to reunite with her family. Ellen Degeneres and Albert Brooks reprise their roles as Dory and Marlin.

Why I'm Excited: Let's face it - Pixar doesn't make bad movies (let's just forget about that nasty "Cars 2" business). Audiences and critics alike have adored 15 of the 16 major films released by the studio since "Toy Story." While normally I'd be nervous about the tendency of sequels to over-reference the originals, or retread too much of the same ground, Pixar has earned trust with their phenomenal track record.

Central Intelligence

At a Glance: Kevin Hart is the high school hot stuff who grew up to be a boring accountant. Dwayne Johnson is the overweight loser who became a CIA killing machine. Together the unlikely (and accidental) partners embark on a mission vital to national security.

Why I'm Conflicted: The resumes of everyone involved with this (cast and production team) are a mixture of a few bright spots and a whole lot of bad choices. Dwayne Johnson is irresistibly charming and it would be great to see Kevin Hart star in a feature that isn't comic poison. File this under "Wishing for the Best, Prepared for the Worst."

In Theaters June 24

Independence Day: Resurgence 

At a Glance: Twenty years after their defeat at the hands of Earth's unified forces, the aliens return to launch a massive and devastating war of revenge. Humanity once again finds itself on the brink of extinction as faces new and familiar scramble to find a path to victory.

Why I'm Stoked: This is the dumbest movie that I'm super excited to see. While the first trailer delighted, each successive preview has looked more and more generic. Still, nostalgia is a hell of a drug and the 1996 original is an annual July tradition in my home. I'm looking forward to revisiting this world with eyes wide shut.

Free State of Jones

At a Glance: "Free State of Jones" tells the story of local legend Newton Knight. In 1863, at the height of the Civil War, Newton Knight led a group of fellow Confederate deserters to seize control of the area around Jones County, Mississippi. For the remainder of the war, Knight and his followers harassed Confederate forces in the area, effectively disrupting their control of the territory.

Why I'm Excited: This film presents a lesser known story from one of the most fascinating periods of American history and stars Matthew McConaughey, who has rapidly graduated from mere rom-com heartthrob to one of my favorite leading men. Despite the Oscar-bait feel to the trailers, I'm excited to see McConaughey once again take on a role unlike his previous work.

In Theaters June 29

The Shallows

At a Glance: Nancy, a pro surfer, is left stranded 200 yards from shore when a great white shark attacks her. Determined to survive, she plans her escape to safety while the shark lurks in shallows, waiting.

Why I'm Excited: As ever, we end on an optimistic note. I'm always ready for a good thriller. The premise is rock solid and could produce a tight, tense film if handled correctly. We haven't had a reason to be afraid to go into the water since 1975. I hope "The Shallows" gives us a new one.

Thank you for reading! Now tell me what you think. What are you most excited to see? Sound off in the comments!

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