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Fandom Recommends: What to Watch and Play in June

Here are our picks for the month.

Watching Outcast on June 3


Outcast has a lot going for it: Comic book adaptations are all the rage these days (just look at the hype around AMC’s Preacher), and writer Robert Kirkman’s last comic-to-TV translation — a little show called The Walking Dead — has done alright for itself. Outcast also tells a damn good story, with a creepy and mysterious meta-narrative (demons are possessing people at an alarming rate, and the protagonist has the unexplained ability to cast them out) grounded by strong character relationships and a surprisingly uncynical take on religion from the guy who created such a bleak worldview in The Walking Dead. The only downside is that it’s airing on Cinemax, which means it’ll never attain the same cultural dominance of a basic cable show like Preacher or The Walking Dead. Thankfully, Cinemax has made the first episode available to anyone with an Internet connection, so you can get a taste of what Outcast offers right now. [Brett Bates]

Watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows on June 3


It’s kind of miraculous how consistent the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise has remained in pop culture. Created as a parody of comics like Daredevil, the series has morphed into its own universe of intricate characters and universes. Most recently, the Turtles have been revived on the big screen thanks to producer Michael Bay. The first film came across as a little too gritty and the sequel looks to acknowledge that with its addition of multiple characters such as Casey Jones, Bebop, Rocksteady, and Krang. Die-hard fans will definitely want to check out how some of these characters are brought to life on film, especially if they’ve been hoping for a movie that fully embraces the zany nature of the original comics and the beloved cartoon series from the ‘80s. [Drew Dietsch]

Playing Paragon on June 7


It may seem a little late to get into the MOBA game when League of Legends, Dota 2, and Heroes of the Storm dominate the genre. But Epic Games isn’t approaching the task lightly. Paragon looks to refresh MOBA norms with a first-person perspective and a truly gorgeous setting and set of characters. If you can set aside Overwatch for a while, Paragon is absolutely worth your attention. [Jorge Albor]

Playing Mirror’s Edge on June 7


Perhaps 2008’s Mirror’s Edge was ahead of its time, or perhaps people were more in love with the idea of a free-running parkour simulator than with how it actually played. Whatever the case, the franchise was stopped in its tracks before it had time to really get up to speed, so to speak. In the years since, the game has developed a bit of a cult following, so it was a pleasant surprise when the reboot was revealed at E3 2013. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst seeks to address the main issues people had with the first game. Linear levels are replaced with open-world environments, giving the player more freedom to choose their own path to accomplish objectives. The game’s combat system has also been revamped to meld more smoothly with the game’s movement and traversal systems. The awkward shooting and hand-to-hand combat sequences of the original have been replaced with quick melee attacks and evasions, including a focus mode that allows the main hero Faith to dodge bullets. Hopefully, this one won’t evade too many gamers this time around, as it would be nice to see a game that tries so many new and novel things get rewarded for its efforts. [Matthew Allen]

Watching The Conjuring 2 on June 10


After enduring a grueling blockbuster experience with Furious 7, director James Wan has returned to the genre that made him. Wan’s direction on The Conjuring took a highly derivative premise and elevated it. The film’s buzz was formidable, and audiences filled seats (only to leap out of them in fright). This sequel takes demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to England, where they encounter a deadly foe that has terrified paranormal enthusiasts for decades: The Enfield Poltergeist. After the lackluster spinoff Annabelle, this series appears to be back on course. Carried on the winds of a strong (and scary) marketing campaign, The Conjuring 2 is poised to lure in adult audiences who need a break from bombastic CGI-laden blockbusters. [Travis Newton]

Watching Now You See Me 2 on June 10


This is a sequel no one asked for, especially the stars, who seem to be coasting on minimal energy during the majority of Now You See Me 2’s running time. But it’s somehow a nice bit of low-level counterprogramming in a Summer full of movies that are quite simply full of themselves. Seeing the likes of Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson (in two roles), Jesse Eisenberg, Daniel Radcliffe, and the surprisingly good Dave Franco together has value. Lizzie Caplan brings a great energy to her new role in the film and the end result isn’t half bad. It’s going to fizzle and get bad reviews, but it’s kind of a charming little movie. But it’s totally going to fail. [Nick Nunziata]

Watching Central Intelligence on June 17


The Rock finally got his buddy comedy. One of the funniest and most outrageous moments in 2010’s The Other Guys was Dwayne Johnson and Sam Jackson’s finest moment as not so invincible supercops. That scene alone got fans hyped up to see the hardest working man in show business star in an action-packed buddy comedy, and I can’t think of another comedian working today to better offset Johnson’s style than the hilarious and very entertaining Kevin Hart. Central Intelligence looks like a lot of fun. The plot seems solid enough to work as a foundation for putting these two together, but the real joy of this movie is going to be the jokes, gags and just seeing how these two polar opposites play off each other. The premise is fun, and the cast is a perfect choice for this kind of movie and Kevin Hart’s reactions to violence and danger are an instant selling point. This one is going to be good times.[Andrew Hawkins]

Watching Finding Dory on June 17


We successfully found Nemo, and now it’s time to embark on another underwater adventure. Finding Dory takes place a year after the events of its predecessor, but this time, we’re swimming to California in search of memory-challenged Dory‘s family and where she came from. Marlin, Nemo, and the Tank Gang are all back, and we pick up some new sea friends of all sizes and skills. As is the case with every Pixar film, expect extraordinary visuals, great voice talent, clever storytelling, and more than a few tears. Another thing to find: The John Ratzenberger cameo. [Lesley Chen]

Watching Orange Is the New Black Season 4 on June 17


The ladies of Litchfield are back: Piper is still running her underground panty empire, Alex is still alive, Sophia‘s in SHU, and Red has her kitchen back. A busload of new inmates (including a Martha Stewart-type celebrity chef) introduces new blood into the mix and throws everyone off their game. OITNB started as a cautionary tale of a privileged rich girl whose bad decisions finally caught up with her, and it has evolved into a complex story about everyone else in the show. It’s a darkly funny look at politics, diversity, power, and finding happiness in the most hopeless of places. The show has already been renewed for three more seasons, so we’re in for the long haul. Because there ain’t no drama like prison drama. [Lesley Chen]

Playing Mighty No. 9 on June 21


The anticipation for Mighty No. 9 is at such a fever pitch that it seems doomed simply because of unobtainable high expectations. The Kickstarter project from Keiji Inafune is being sold as the newest iteration of Mega Man and that’s a high bar to have to reach. Capcom’s mistreatment of the Blue Bomber over the last few years has made fans even more anxious for Inafune’s reimagining of the series he helped create, so it’s likely that Mighty No. 9 will be subjected to the most intense scrutiny right out of the gate. Speaking as someone who donated to the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter, all I want from the game is a return to the old-school action and colorful worlds that cemented Mega Man as my favorite game series of all time. Mighty No. 9 doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. It just needs to be a solid revival of the gaming style Mega Man fans have been enjoying for almost thirty years. If it accomplishes that, it’ll be a success worthy of its legacy. [Drew Dietsch]

Watching Independence Day: Resurgence on June 24


Has it been 20 years since Independence Day? Yes. Is Will Smith M.I.A. for Roland Emmerich’s latest? Uh huh. Have audiences tired of many special effect bonanzas since ID4’s debut? Yes again. Despite all that, there is still a lot of interest in Resurgence. Say what you want about the original sci-fi blow-’em-up but it’s definitely a cultural touchstone in American pop culture. If the sequel is even half as explosive and fun as its predecessor then we are in for a treat. It’ll also be interesting to see how the franchise aged after so much time and if people still have a soft spot for Jeff Goldblum’s nerdy, genius heroics. [Brandon Marcus]

Watching the Game of Thrones Season 6 Finale on June 26


Game of Thrones finally outpaced the novels the show is based on this year, meaning that for the first time, book readers were on equal footing with those who haven’t devoured Martin’s tomes. An exciting sense of the unknown gave the showrunners plenty of opportunities for surprises, even if they didn’t always land the mark (we knew something, Jon Snow). The HBO series’ sixth season has been immensely enjoyable thus far, with the characters who were children back in season one really taking the reigns and chasing their destinies. Daenerys’ dragons are getting huge, Arya has learned quite a few of the skills to take some names off of her kill list, Sansa is a true political player and ultimate survivor, and Bran is learning everything there is to know about… everything. The series is getting close to its ultimate climax with only two seasons left, so there’s plenty of bloodshed, nudity, and heartbreak ahead for fans of the fantasy juggernaut. [Danielle Ryan]

Watching Ray Donovan Season 4 on June 26


It’s less about the plot with Ray Donovan than it is about the vibe. Liev Schreiber has been a major talent for so long it only made sense that he’d shine when given the longform medium to build a role into something special. And he has. The last season ended rather dramatically and the stage is set for this fourth season to see a lot of things click into gear. Because the plots aren’t as intricately woven as other major drama shows, Ray Donovan may not need a binge watch (it’s actually not a great binge watch show for the same reason) to get a new viewer up to speed. It’s worth tuning it, especially if you love Liev like you should. It was he, not Ben Affleck, who was the bomb in Phantoms, yo. [Nick Nunziata]

Watching The Shallows on June 29


Exactly when did shark movies become the sole purview of ironic crapfests like Sharknado and Ghost Shark? The sub-genre that Jaws birthed has become a joke that needs to be retired. Here’s hoping that The Shallows will do just that. The summer thriller is releasing right in the middle of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week in an effort to capitalize on people’s fascination with the sea’s most feared predator. The first trailer promised an exciting and sincere adventure that doesn’t rely on tongue-in-cheek humor or stunt casting to draw audiences in. If The Shallows can give us a main character to root for in Blake Lively’s role and is able to craft some moments of genuine tension, we may finally have another reason to stay out of the water this summer. [Drew Dietsch]

Playing We Happy Few


We Happy Few looks like a dystopian psychedelic nightmare. The development team at Compulsion Games who brought us the surreal 1920s adventure puzzler Contrast have announced that their next project is in its final stages. Work on We Happy Few has been chugging along as the programming, animation, narrative and design crews work tirelessly to fulfill their commitments from last year’s Kickstarter campaign, and everything they’ve displayed so far looks excellent. The story of the game finds the player in a twisted alternate reality England in the 1960s. The option of choosing between three different characters, each with their own traumatic and dark backstories is intriguing, and the promise of full procedurally generated gameplay plus a high level of challenging difficulty makes We Happy Few sound perfect for multiple replays. I just wonder how hard it’s actually going to be to try and survive the twisted, drug-fueled dystopia they’re created. [Andrew Hawkins]


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