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

VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA (2008)


Written & Directed By: Woody Allen 
Cinematography By: Javier Aguirresarobe 
Editor: Alisa Lepselter 

Cast: Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Dunn, Zak Orth, Chris Messina

 

Sexually adventurous Cristina and her friend Vicky, who is bright but cautious, holiday in Barcelona where they meet the celebrated and wholly seductive painter, Juan Antonio. Vicky is not about to dive into a sexual adventure being committed to her forthcoming marriage. But Cristina is immediately captivated by Juan Antonio’s free spirit and his romantic allure is enhanced when she hears the delicious details of his divorce from fellow artist, the tempestuous Maria Elena. 


This is a partially unusual film for Woody Allen maybe it’s because it is set in Spain and the country is both artistic and romantic and sensual. This film is one sexy movie now all the leads are of course good looking and have been in tons of other films. Where they have been sex symbols and objects and that is what most films are there to do to make the actors look the best they can but in this film, they practically sizzle the film shows them at their best. 
 

Now in the Woody Allen canon of movies, it’s not the best but it is better than some of his others but it still seems slight this one as usual revolves around artists and muses and the philosophy of relationships. As Rebecca Hall’s character goes to Barcelona to finish her thesis and is engaged she brings her friend Scarlett Johansen who is a flight sexy beauty and they meet Javier Bardem and both end up falling for him though Rebecca Hall tries very much not to so Scarlett Johanssen ends up staying with him trying to find her own identity but problems soon arise as his ex played by Penelope Cruz comes back into his life.  

This is pretty much Penelope Cruz’s movie even though her character comes is not in the film until halfway in. She is talked about so much that when she finally shows up she is everything you expect and worse. Javier Bardem is good as the lothario with sex appeal. Which he should be since Woody specifically wrote the role with him in mind and had no other choice lined up to play the role. 


Scarlett Johansen gives a good experience but she still suffers from the Rosario Dawson syndrome. Where a star actress is always stuck in the girlfriend role. Only here Scarlett is sexy given tons of screen time but not too much to actually do other than be almost a prop in the background always she isn’t given a real character to play. On the other hand, Rebecca Hall makes a deep impression maybe it’s because she is in a way playing the Woody Allenish character the nebbish only this time female. The film is the best-looking cast Woody has ever worked with. 

This is a film that shows the bohemian ideals that seems to be at war with the nouveau riche the establishment represented by Patricia Clarkson and Kevin Dunn. Clarkson’s character is a romantic dreamer who always wonders what if she would have run off with a poor lover years ago. She imagines her life could have been more exciting and fulfilled, Whereas now she has money but is bored she loves her husband, but he doesn’t seem to return the favor he cares more about business than objects. He views her as just another possession I don’t know if that was intended but that is how I felt watching the film. 


 In essence, this is a film about the What If. The ideals and problems you could have by running off with that smooth talker. It is also the nightmare story of the ex-girlfriend who never leaves and haunts and stalks you who takes things to the extreme to try and get you back and intimidate your new girlfriend. Though the film doesn’t go the thriller way it chooses to be a little more realistic in a dramedy romantic comedy way.


The film is a good movie to watch it is a good time waster. I’d say it is worth buying if it was 14.95 and would be a lot more interesting if Woody Allen gave a commentary just to see what his thought process was since this is such a big departure from his other films around that time. Which at that point was an improvement. 

 GRADE: B

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONSES (2016)

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES

Directed By: Greg Mottola
Written By: Michael Lasieur
Cinematography: Andrew Dunn
Editor: David Rennie 

Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm, Isla Fisher, Gal Gadot, Patton Oswalt, Ming Zhao, Matt Walsh, Kevin Dunn, Bobby Lee, Ari Shaffir 


A suburban couple becomes embroiled in an international espionage plot when they discover that their seemingly perfect new neighbors are government spies.

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