Friday, April 9, 2021

Thunder Force (2021)

Streaming Services: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Thunder Force (2021)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 106 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Marc Platt Productions, Netflix
Director: Ben Falcone
Writer: Ben Falcone
Actors: Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Jason Bateman, Bobby Cannavale, Pom Klementieff, Melissa Leo, Taylor Mosby, Marcella Lowery, Melissa Ponzio, Ben Falcone, Nate Hitpas, David Storrs, Bria Danielle, Tai Leshaun, Vivian Falcone, Mia Kaplan
Blurb from IMDb: In a world where supervillains are commonplace, two estranged childhood best friends reunite after one devises a treatment that gives them powers to protect their city.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’ve had a few people challenge my statements about what I expected from this film.
If you haven’t read my Top 20 for April 2021, you can read it here.
I basically said that Melissa McCarthy (St. Vincent, Mike & Molly, The Kitchen) strikes me as the female version of Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems, Murder Mystery, Hubie Halloween). She’s a great actor who chooses parts in lower quality flicks. Whether it’s because she has bad judgement or just enjoys playing those kinds of characters, I don’t think it matters.
As a result, I expected this movie wouldn’t be phenomenal, but I had to include it because of how much I enjoyed the trailer and the idea.
Thunder Force hit every pitfall that I thought it would.
This is one of those situations where some of the stuff in the trailer didn’t even make the film. The parts that I didn’t see in my watch-through seemed like they had been added to the trailer instead of being cut from the movie. I see this as a form of lying to the audience. It’s not something I can get behind.
A lot of the flick was tropey, but I can get passed that most of the time.

None of the tropes were of the deal-breaker variety. They were just things you expect from your run-of-the-mill superhero and/or comedy fare. Stuff like a comic book panel exposition opening or talking badly about someone who turns out to be within earshot.
A good movie can have those kinds of things in it without taking a quality hit.
Unfortunately, Thunder Force just wasn’t good.
The actors were fine, but the script was full of badly-done cringe and second-hand embarrassment comedy. A lot of the ‘laughs’ – I use that term loosely – were based on McCarthy’s specific brand of clumsy, too-obvious, humor.
I’ll admit that I enjoyed the origin of the friendship between the two main characters and I thought the ‘grandma’ character was way too good for the film. Also, the soundtrack was top-notch.
Other than that, I didn’t have a good time watching this one.
This is not something I’m ever going to revisit – if I even remember it exists.

Cat’s Point of View:
Thunder Force was a bit of a wild card for us this month. You never quite know what you’re going to get with a Melissa McCarthy movie. Some are excellent, and some are just bonkers. In this case, I’m happy to say that I found this film bonkers – in the most excellent way.
For a moment, I was wondering if there was an actual comic out there that formed the basis for this story. It was clear that comic superhero tales were a heavy inspiration for the framing of the movie.
Writer/Director, Ben Falcone (Tammy, The Boss, Life of the Party), brought this to life as an original stand-alone and I’m here for it. Hey Netflix – if you’re not planning on doing a sequel or series with this IP, you might consider dabbling in the graphic novel market with this team. Just saying.
That being said, I think it’s clear that I really enjoyed the slightly bumbling crime-fighting duo of McCarthy and Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, Ma, Onward). I was really feeling a Hancock (2008) meets a legit superhero movie mash-up. I also love how these 2 beautiful women weren’t forced to crash diet or whatever else it is that Hollywood does to rapidly shed weight for roles. They were phenomenal as their authentic selves and I’m glad that they were able to represent for those of us with ‘realistic’ body types.

As some of you know, I’m a bit of an action movie fanatic. I loved the physicality that was brought to the superhero and villain roles here. The stunts were well executed. For that matter, I didn’t mind the CGI, either. They didn’t have to try too hard to sell this spectacular satire.
Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses, Zootopia, Game Night) and Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire, Motherless Brooklyn, Mr. Robot) were also spot-on perfect for their respective character roles. I think Cannavale gets a bit type-cast, but he does what he does really well, so it’s not a complaint. Bateman’s character was absolutely ludicrous and added some of the cornier parts of the humor within the story; but, surprisingly, didn’t make the whole film feel hokey. (Though parts at the end were rather…strange.)
My daughter watched this one with me and we had a great time laughing together over this crazy tale of family, friendship, and ass-kickery. I actually got maudlin in a few places and she was engrossed with the movie so much that she didn’t even notice. I would caution that there are some mild language and adult situations in the film so this is generally not the best movie for the very young, but it should be fine for teens.
Thumbs up, Netflix. This was exactly what I needed after a miserable week of oral surgery pain. I might even watch this one again. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Thunder Force for anyone looking to de-stress and have a good time.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 23%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 25%
Metascore – 34/100
Metacritic User Score – 1.4/10
IMDB Score – 3.5/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Greenland (2020)

Streaming Services: Amazon Prime Video ($5.99)
Movie Name/Year: Greenland (2020)
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Length: 119 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: STX Films, Anton, Thunder Road Pictures, G-BASE, Riverstone Pictures, Film & TV House, GEM Entertainment, CatchPlay, Cinépolis Distribución, Diamond Films, Elevation Pictures, ErosSTX International, Golden Village Pictures, Impuls Pictures, Joyncontents Group, Kinomania, Metropolitan Filmexport, Pony Canyon, Roadshow Film Distributors (NZ) Ltd., Roadshow Films, STX International, Spentzos Films, Square Box Pictures, TGV Pictures, TOBIS Film, The Searchers, Top Film, Vertical Entertainment, Amazon Prime Video, Cinemundo, Encore Films, Eros Now, HBO Max, JL Vision Film, Leonine Distribution, TOBIS Home Entertainment, The Filmbridge
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Writer: Chris Sparling
Actors: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, Roger Dale Floyd, Scott Glenn, Randal Gonzalez, Scott Poythress, Claire Bronson, Madison Johnson, Gary Weeks, Tracey Bonner, Hope Davis, David Denman, Andrew Bachelor, Joshua Mikel, James Logan, Randall Archer
Blurb from IMDb: A family struggles for survival in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster.

Selina’s Point of View:
I have been looking forward to Greenland for a long time. Maybe even since the start of the pandemic.
It was delayed several times before being released to streaming in the USA. Sometimes, that’s a bad sign. It could indicate reshoots or post-production issues. I think it’s pretty clear that, this time, it was delayed solely because of COVID.
Apocalypse movies are my thing. No matter what ends the world in those films, they always draw me.
These days, apocalypse movies hit different. They just pack a lot more of a punch since the coronavirus shut down our world. I imagine this is because if everyone was as absolutely moronic as the anti-maskers & anti-vaxxers are, it very well could have been an extinction-level disease.

That said, I was happy to see a film like this that focused on comets. Most of the apocalypse flicks I’ve seen have involved zombies, aliens, ice ages, or Earthbound natural disasters – with a scattering of religion. It’s nice to see something different. There’ve been a few comet/meteor/asteroid/thing crashing into Earth movies, but not a whole lot that I can recall. That means the majority of them probably weren’t all that memorable.
Greenland is.
It did sport some of my least favorite apocalypse tropes. Among them are: a couple starting on the rocks (we all know they’ll bond over the trauma and be back together in the end) and a child needing access to meds (you just know they’re going to lose, or be separated from, the meds at some point). I feel like, in this case, those tropes (and a couple of others) could have been subverted easily.

If they were, Greenland would have gotten a perfect score from me. Even with the small plot holes that picked at me by the conclusion.
The rest of the film was phenomenal. All the serious, emotional scenes, were so well done that I wound up ugly crying in the middle of the movie. That kind of reaction is normally ear-marked for the very end.
I have to give props to director Ric Roman Waugh (Felon, In the Shadows, Snitch) and writer Chris Sparling (Buried, ATM, The Warning). They created something special. It’s difficult to make an apocalyptic film feel fresh, but they did. I do believe their project was elevated by the work of Gerard Butler (The Vanishing, 300, Angel Has Fallen), Morena Baccarin (Deadpool, Gotham, Ode to Joy), and even the child star, Roger Dale Floyd (Doctor Sleep, Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets, Kronos). The various side-actors also felt perfect.

The ladies in charge of casting, Mary Vernieu (Euphoria, Promising Young Woman, Knives Out) and Michelle Wade Byrd (The Photograph, Bird Box, We Can Be Heroes), damn well earned their paychecks.
Greenland dug deep. It told a terrifying, gut-punch, of a story. One that will stand out – even to someone like me. I watch over 300 movies a year and I forget roughly 80% of them. I don’t believe this will be one of those.  
It’s only $5.99 to rent Greenland on Amazon Prime Video. I think it’s totally worth it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 78%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 64%
Metascore – 64/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.3/10
IMDB Score – 6.4/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, April 5, 2021

The Power (2021)


Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: The Power (2021)
Genre: Horror
Length: 92 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Air Street Films, British Film Institute, Head Gear Films, Kreo Films FZ, Metrol Technology, Stigma Films, Shudder, VR Films And Studios
Director: Corinna Faith
Writer: Corinna Faith
Actors: Rose Williams, Emma Rigby, Charlie Carrick, Clara Read, Paul Antony-Barber, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Diveen Henry, Robert Goodman, Marley Chesham, Nuala McGowan, Shakira Rahman, Joe Haddow, Maria Major
Blurb from IMDb:  1973: a young nurse is forced to work the night shift in a crumbling hospital as striking miners switch off the power across Britain. But inside the walls lurks a terrifying presence that threatens to consume her and everyone around her.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was looking forward to The Power. The trailer seemed a little tropey, but I figured the setting and time period would elevate it.
I wasn’t completely right.
The Power did have some elevating factors, but it was – at its base – a recipe film.
For the majority of the movie, it delivered typical jump-scare fare. There were a few shocking moments, and I jumped a couple of times… but nothing really stood out as original. The setting and the period really didn’t alter anything. It could have taken place anywhere, during any time, and been exactly the same.
That said, it is not a bad film.
Any recipe flick can be good. It needs a creative team and actors that are on point, as well as something to make it stand out.

Rose Williams (Reign, Changeland, Curfew) did a decent job with the main character. I believed her performance and she helped those jump-scares land properly. On top of that, Corinna Faith (Nature, Ashes, 16 for a Day) did a good job with the script. Neither of those facts were the stand-out needed, though.
The real stand-out was the ending.
Now, the twist was relatively predictable. The foreshadowing was not subtle. How the movie treated the twist, however, made it worthwhile. Not just in the way that the paranormal aspect is realized, but in the way the title fits the flick.
The ending was special, and it made the rest of the film more rewarding. It’s a little difficult to go into without spoilers, so that’s the most I can say.
The Power comes out on Shudder, April 8th. 

Cat’s Point of View:
I was super jazzed to learn we’d gotten a screener for The Power, considering it had made it onto my Top 20 list for this month. The trailer gave me an ominous feeling which I hoped was a harbinger of good things for this scary story from yesteryear.
Many will laugh at those that are afraid of the dark. Some of us just can’t help it, though. Sometimes it’s trauma that makes the fear linger past childhood. Other times it could be sensitivity to things that are simply unseen. When you’re in tune with your environment to that degree, you know that sometimes you’re not alone in the dark – but that’s an entirely different story for another time. I digress… The point is, it’s hard-coded in our DNA from times of old when ancient people huddled around the fire for safety. Danger awaits in the dark where human eyes cannot see. It’s instinct. Of course, in this ‘modern age of reason,’ we can generally mind-over-matter the issue and move past it – most of us at least.
I have a confession. Darkness doesn’t scare me, but it makes me highly uneasy. I don’t like the unsettled feeling, and so I’ll beeline for a light source when available. It’s not even all darkness. It’s hard to explain. My rambling point is that I can identify with this movie’s protagonist on some level. I would not want to be in a hospital like that with all the lights off. Nope.

There’s more to this story than a potential boogeyman in the dark. As we learn more about our plucky main character, Val, we begin to understand why the darkness is extra scary for her. I think they handled expressing her PTSD rather well. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you, so I’m afraid I can’t get into that in detail.
The era of this story’s setting wasn’t that long ago, but there was still a lot of progress yet to happen for women’s rights in Britain in the mid-1970s. The story deftly highlights some of that rather well also.
If you asked me if there was anything about this movie that bugged me, I’d really be hard-pressed to give you an answer. The special effects were generally on point. The yawning expanses of deep darkness gave the appropriate sense of dread and foreboding. The puzzle pieces of the young nurse’s story and the mystery of the issue at hand came together nicely, and the ending was very satisfying. I had figured someone else for the story’s antagonist – but I was silly and fell for a red herring.
This is definitely a movie that should be watched in the dark, if at all possible. If you find yourself in a lighted situation, you should still be able to see what’s going on for the most part, however. The pitch black of my room only added to the ambiance of the film for me, leaving me on edge after the credits rolled. All the same, I’d definitely give this movie a solid recommendation if you find yourself searching for something to watch on Shudder starting April 8th. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore –None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – None
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 3/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer: