Thunder Force Review

Imagine a world much like our own, but with one key difference: nearly 40 years ago, after an interplanetary blast of cosmic rays, some people were gifted with superpowers. There’s just one nefarious twist: the only people who gained these powers were likely to be sociopaths. So, in essence, what if, 40 years ago, supervillains were created but without an opposing force of good to stop them? How would these cruel villains run rampant over the societies of the world? What nasty plans would they have for the rest of us, who would be hopeless to fight back? What dystopic horrors would be enacted upon us all?

These are among the very reasonable questions raised and promptly, bafflingly ignored by the new Netflix action comedy Thunder Force, whose very basic premise is a lot more interesting than its filmmakers are willing to explore. Aside from that setup, the real premise is “What if Melissa McCarthy got superpowers?” That must have been the elevator pitch for McCarthy and her husband/frequent collaborator, Ben Falcone (who wrote and directed Thunder Force). That setup is all well and good, but this whole film feels like an elevator pitch: tossed off without any detailed thought. It’s true that this is, compared to Falcone’s other directorial efforts, pretty much the cream of the crop. But that doesn’t make Thunder Force any good.

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the unholy review

In the 1990s, folks beginning to discover the internet also came across “internet screamers.” These were jump-scare-laden pranks that took the shape of videos or sometimes games. The set-up was almost always the same: you’d be instructed to turn your computer volume up before watching a video, and the video would start off utterly benign and innocuous – something resembling a car commercial, for example.

And just when you were beginning to wonder what the point of the video was, BAM!!, something (usually some type of ghoulish face) would suddenly pop onto the screen with a loud, blaring noise and make you fall out of your chair. These videos were cheap, deceptive, and ultimately effective – they weren’t scary, but they were startling. They also seem to have inspired an entire subgenre of studio horror film – the type of movie where there are no real scares save for the occasional ghoul face slamming into the camera. The latest entry in this internet screamers subgenre is The Unholy, a subpar religious horror flick that has the makings of something better.

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godzilla vs kong review

What do we want from the MonsterVerse, Warner Bros. and Legendary’s attempt to Marvel-ize the world of Godzilla, King Kong, and several other big beasties? The answer seems to be: big, loud, entertaining mayhem, and here comes Godzilla vs. Kong to hopefully deliver on that. Time and time again, when one of these movies comes out, they’re pilloried for their lackluster human characters. These criticisms are inevitably met with a defensive “Who cares?! I watch these movies for the monsters, not the people!”

This is a weak defense because ultimately, these movies are more about humans than they are monsters. It’s clear that the folks making these movies want the audience to care about the human characters. When 2014’s Godzilla arrived, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws was cited as an inspiration by several people close to the production. But no one ever says, “I only watch Jaws for the shark!” It’s the human moments – Brody, Hooper, and Quint sharing drunken scar stories; etc. – that makes Jaws so special. If your monster movie is going to be primarily focused on humans with occasional bursts of monster action, you better make sure those humans are at least slightly interesting and relatable.

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Luchadoras Review

Ciudad Juárez is notorious for its violence, especially against women. In the first four months of 2020, 987 women and young girls were murdered in Mexico. Of those deaths, 308 were categorized as femicide. Directors Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasim shine light on this deadly issue through a sympathetic and empowering lens with their SXSW documentary Luchadoras

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“Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” Bong Joon Ho’s incredible Golden Globes speech caused a stir in 2020, and yet for many, his words fell on deaf ears. Despite director Bong’s Parasite going on to win Best Picture at the Oscars shortly thereafter – the first time a foreign film has received that award in the Academy’s 92 years of existence – polls still revealed a resistance among Americans to enrich themselves with the task of watching a movie with subtitles. According to an online survey conducted in 2020, 59% of adults in the United States prefer to view a foreign film that is dubbed into English. Dilapidated thinking reigns supreme.

Enter Natalie Morales’ Language Lessons, a charming and engrossing dark comedy about two strangers connecting over a series of online tutorials.

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Into the Dark Blood Moon Review

There’s no luck of the Irish this March from Into The Dark, since Emma Tammi’s second directorial invitation is about shapeshifter folklore—St. Patrick’s Day was last year’s edition. With season 2 wrapping its slate, Hulu’s holiday horror anthology avoids any serious double-dipping by ignoring inebriated March madness for a second thematic instance. Adam Mason’s screenplay is more in line with last May’s Delivered (also Tammi), once again jeopardizing a mother-child relationship that’s consciously more heartfelt than other months doused in gore, humor, or approaches less dramatically dire. It’s Tammi’s wheelhouse dating back to The Wind, so why deviate? After a string of franchise lows, Blood Moon brings a little bite back into Blumhouse’s monthly program.

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Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched Review

Folk horror conjures up many images, both old and new. Pagan rituals, witches, and sprawling landscapes all set the stage for stories that tend to get passed down from generation to generation whether through word of mouth, literature, or film. Director Kier-La Janisse crafts a comprehensive collection and thorough analysis of folk horror films that span back to the early 20th century in her impressive SXSW documentary, Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror.

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Islands Review

Early in Martin Edralin’s stubbornly pensive and endearingly fragile directorial debut Islands, the painfully shy middle-aged loner Joshua (Rogelio Balagtas) spends yet another day in his childhood home helping his parents with the laundry, when a sudden spill down the stairs leaves him and his father (Esteban Comilang) alone without a matron. Forced to reconcile with the irrevocable progress of time, the pair do their best to move forward in the wake of their loss, only to find themselves stuck in the muck and the mire of their codependent grief.

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Here Before Review

Grief is fickle. Over time, it fluctuates in severity and painful memories can be summoned by anything from a song to revisiting a certain location. An omnipresent shadow of pain, grief is always lingering close by in one form or another. Writer/director Stacey Gregg explores mourning through a mothers perspective in her debut film, Here Before. A psychological thriller of longing and loss, Gregg mixes in supernatural elements that tease the idea of whether or not our loved ones truly ever leave us.

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nobody review

Bob Odenkirk has come a long way. After starting off as a comedic performer he’s blossomed into a strong dramatic lead thanks to his excellent work on Better Call Saul. Now he’s going even further, becoming a full-blown action star for Nobody, a new wham-bam shoot-em-up from writer Derek Kolstad, one of the creators of the John Wick franchise. And while Odenkirk is surprisingly great as a gun-toting ass-kicker, the film built around him ultimately amounts to little more than a pale imitation of the John Wick series.

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