THUNDER FORCE (2021)

Written & Directed By: Ben Falcone
Cinematography: Barry Peterson 
Editor: Tia Nolan 

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Bobby Cannavale, Jason Bateman, Pom Klementieff, Melissa Leo, Taylor Mosby, Kevin Dunn, Ben Falcone 

In a world terrorized by super-villains, one woman has developed the process to give superpowers to regular people. But when scientist Emily Stanton accidentally imbues her estranged best friend with incredible abilities, the two women must become the first superhero team. Now, it is up to Thunder Force to battle the super-powered Miscreants and save Chicago from the clutches of The King.


It seems with most new comedic vehicles that Melissa McCarthy makes it seem to drag down the quirky of her stock. What is more digressing is that usually, these films are her own creation with her writer-director husband Ben Falcone. 

For every BRIDESMAIDS, SPY or even THE HEAT. There is a LIFE OF THE PARTY or TAMMY. At least THE BOSS was somewhat entertaining.

The bright spots of this film are few in-between. As at least the film becomes fun when it comes to the scenes with her and Jason Bateman as they still obviously have chemistry from the forgettable Studio film IDENTITY THEFT.

Like that film, this seems to want to be a forced buddy comedy. Where we how for the best. While two different personalities are forced to work together. While the stench of corporate studio movie making and synergy is pretty obvious. 

It’s almost like an Adam Sandler Netflix film which you know most likely will be bad. If they keep serving you and you take a chance and instantly regret it usually. As you remember how good they can be no how many better films they made than the one you are forcing yourself to watch. Hoping for something salvageable amongst the wreck. 

The other bright spot of the film is anytime the film deals with the villains and their hierarchy. Which isn’t the sharpest writing but some of the funnier material. That could have easily been a sketch more than anything.

The problem isn’t that the film isn’t inspired, it just does nothing with the idea or ideas it has Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer are friends in real life and used to do improv shows together and were nominated on the same year for Best Supporting actress at the academy awards McCarthy for BRIDESMAIDS and SPENCER for THE HELP which she won for.

Other than that you wish they could have chosen a better project. As this film most of the time comes off as pretty flat. The jokes come off as simple and weak and while this is meant to be a spoof or take off of superheroes. Nothing seems quite Inspired and the film comes off as tame.

This could easily be a family film with how inoffensive it is. It’s Predictable and you wonder about the intelligence of most of the characters. Such as why a successful mayoral candidate doesn’t suspect a thing when the person she beat all Of a sudden wants to throw her a victory party. 

You Can tell where the film and story are going constantly and the deepest character development we get from McCarthy is that her loser character obsesses about classic rock band music. Even a character they introduce when they are kids and have a crush on Spencer who we see as an adult goes nowhere. 

The film is a major disappointment especially when it seemed to be aiming pretty high. Though comes off more not as anything made for the big screen but almost purposely meant to be on streaming or television as it’s scope and aim seem so narrow but try to aim for bigger and better 

Though to be fair it’s rare that there has been a successful superhero comedy. 

Grade: D

THIS IS THE NIGHT (2021)

Written & Directed By: James DeMonaco
Cinematography: Anastas N. Michos
Editor: Keith Fraase 

Cast: Naomi Watts, Frank Grillo, Lucius Hoyos, Madelyn Cline, Chase Vacnin, Bobby Cannavale, River Alexander, Max Casella, Steve Lipman, Method Man, Lenny Venito, Jonah Hauer-King

A teenager living in Staten Island during the summer of 1982 embarks on a quest that draws in his family members.


This is a sweet coming-of-age film. It is earnest and tries to give you an overview of the neighborhood, families, times, and atmosphere. So that it feels more natural. Which in a way only exposes how false it is at times. The problem is that it feels way too familiar for the audience.

It tells the tale of a family throughout two days that will come to define them. Each member of the family has to deal with a challenge and we see how they deal with it and overcome it.

Even if most of the film is the adventure of the youngest son and his mission to tell the girl of his dreams happy birthday and that he loves her. With plenty of traps and roadblocks along the way.

The film works as far as nostalgia taking us to STATEN island during the 1980s and while that is fun. Even putting at the heart of the film is the debut of ROCKY III. Which inspired and ties the films and its character together.

The film still feels way too familiar. It’snWorth watching if not necessarily a film fan or for a younger audience, but it offers no surprises nor any reason to really stay invested.

As even when young ladies are willing to sneak them into a bar and give them plenty of drinks out of nowhere. You can tell something is not right and it feels too much of a scene from the warriors.

So that by the end this feels more like an Italian American inspired television movie and while it might be more autobiographical for the writer-director James DeMonaco

It also feels more like a movie that has a checklist and makes sure it goes through the list one by one and on schedule. As the teen adventures Seem a bit like an homage to THE WARRIORS.

Even when it comes to the bully getting their comeuppance you can’t wait. Even if the film makes you wait a bit too long and his girlfriend gives him up a little too easily. It just makes her seem that much more innocent despite her father being the local heavy 

Even in the part that involves a character coming out of the closet while it’s Appreciated that the character is confused and not sure about who they are exactly. Was it necessary for them to do it in drag? Maybe that was the truth for the character and how they choose to express themselves, but it offers up a bonding Experience. It also feels a bit stereotypical.  Especially when it comes to acceptance from others who are just a little too quick. So the true film feels cookie-cutter. As everything is resolved in the end a little too neatly and finally.

The cast is impressive and the bigger names get a chance to show off in certain roles we might not expect. Especially Method man who seems like he is playing a minor role but is one of importance later on and as a known resident of STATEN island it is nice to see him represent. 

It could easily be seen as ironic that the film in question At the center of this film is ROCKY III, but it shows no matter what might be universally thought of Something. If you can identify with characters that bring you peace, pride, or inspiration that is all that matters, and how some characters are icons to communities and bring them together on the same wavelength. 

Though Bobby Cannavale is left with a more stereotypical role. That can be said of half the cast. Though Frank Grillo gets to play a more dramatic role it still has him involved in a fight scene. 

In the end, the film can be entertaining. It just feels like you have seen it before and has been built off of other films you have seen and never quite feels itself or fresh. Even if it has its heart in the right place.

GRADE: C

JOLT (2021)

Directed by: Tanya Wexler
Written By: Scott Wascha 
Cinematography: Jules O’Loughlin
Editor: Michael J. Duthie & Carsten Kurpanek

Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Bobby Cannavale, Laverne Cox, Jai Courtney, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Ori Pfeffer, David Bradley, Lewis Bray 

A bouncer with a slightly murderous anger-management problem that she controls with the help of an electrode-lined vest she uses to shock herself back to normalcy whenever she gets homicidal. After the first guy she’s ever fallen for is murdered, she goes on a revenge-fueled rampage to find the killer while the cops pursue her as their chief suspect.


This film Has a high concept but isn’t very inspired nor does it feel like it has many high stakes. 

It might remind the audience of the recent female-driven action film GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE. While both are over the top in places. This film feels like it has less waste and is less flashy. 

As it is not as intense and is smaller scale, but enjoyable. Even if it comes off as more common and less ridiculous. It offers plenty of action that is of the hand-to-hand quality more.

As the film is driven by a mystery only the lead seems to care about. Though we in the audience don’t understand much. It seems more needed just for the story to move forward. 

Also with this message film, each bigger name or recognizable cast member actually has something to do and a reason to be here. In other words, less like money is being thrown at whatever problems the film might have to distract from its shortcomings. 

There is nothing too memorable in the film. It’s good popcorn entertainment. Not necessarily polished and pretty basic. Though it tries to add intrigue. 

Happy to see Kate Beckinsale in an action-oriented film again. Though this film works with fewer weapons and firepower. As well as giving the character a problem that works as a superpower but keeping the film from going down that road.

A sustainable high concept modest action movie with a central star performance and vehicle for them. 

Grade: C

DANNY COLLINS (2015)

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Written & Directed By: Dan Fogelman 

Cinematography: Steve Yedlin 

Editor: Julie Monroe 

Cast: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Christopher Plummer, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Garner, Nick Offerman, Melissa Benoist, Josh Peck, Katarina Cas, Giselle Eisenberg, Brian Thomas Smith, Scott Lawrence 


Inspired by a true story, Al Pacino stars as aging 1970s rocker Danny Collins, who can’t give up his hard-living ways. But when his manager uncovers a 40 year-old undelivered letter written to him by John Lennon, he decides to change course and embarks on a heartfelt journey to rediscover his family, find true love and begin a second act.


Inspired by the story of singer Steve Tilston, who learned of the existence of a letter that John Lennon had written to him 34 years after the letter was written.

The film is a feel good film that feels a little like a fantasy but is a heart warmer and feels lived in. Will admit this is an easy film to overlook. as once you see the trailer you feel like you have it all figured out. Though once you watch it you are shocked at how much it grabs a hold of you and moves you.

Al Pacino shines in his role her where he gives a heaviness to a role that could be easily written off as lightweight. He gives it his all and makes a charismatic sympathetic character who could have been more comedic. Though the fact that he isn’t makes us pay attention and wonder.

The previews for this film focused more on the romantic angle between him and Annette Bening’s Character but as the film progresses that is only one part of this character study. As most of the drama revolves around him and his estranged son’s relationship.

There are plenty of isn’t that convenient moments but in the end the film leaves you with a smile on your face. As it is a film that could be a family film Except that is some scenes it goes out of it’s Way to show you the material is more adult with drug use and a scene of nudity.

The film lightly explores being afraid of challenging yourself and taking the easy way out. While also asking not o hard if you have built up a reputation for making others happy but it doesn’t make you happy anymore. Do you still owe the people what they want or are you allowed to let yourself be happy and express yourself even if it’s it in a way that others are used to or might not even approve of and try to deny.

Christopher Plummer is good as always and it’s fun to see him play more of a tough guy.

For such a noted cast this is actually kind of lightweight material. Though for the most part they are the true reason to watch this. As they give the material the respect even though they are above it to a certain aspect.

Though in the end this is feel good entertainment with a little bit of an edge and basically gives the cast an easy walk with letting them play characters who are more lived in and having the younger cast members play smaller roles that are more like sketches of characters.

It also asks how much do you owe your audience as they are the ones who supported you and admire you, but ho much do you owe them when you want to express yourself more truthfully and honestly though that stands at odds with what your audience wants or will even let you do. Who is more in control especially when you have given them years and been made rich off of it but aren’t being true to yourself.

Grade: C+