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We might have passed the point of no return regarding superhero cinema.

Yes, there are plenty of folks who would argue that we long ago reached cultural saturation when it comes to superhero movies. But in the aftermath of the Snyder Cut and with multiple MCU offerings on the immediate horizon – plus the wide swath of recent and forthcoming streaming series drawing from superpowered source material both well-known and obscure – well … it’s a lot, not all of it good.

And this is coming from someone who LOVES this stuff.

Netflix’s latest foray into the realm of the superheroic is “Thunder Force,” a new film written and directed by Ben Falcone and starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer. It’s an effort to play the tropes for laughs and have some fun with the foibles inherent to the genre, relying heavily on the talents of its cast to carry the day.

It doesn’t quite work out the way they might have hoped.

What so many of these filmmakers forget is that while spectacle is at the forefront with superhero films, the story still matters. Without an engaging narrative, all we’re left with is a bunch of CGI nonsense that is difficult to invest in. And no matter how hard the actors try, they can’t salvage what ultimately becomes an effort to turn 45 minutes of story into 100-plus minutes of movie.

Published in Movies
Monday, 30 November 2020 14:47

‘Superintelligence’ not too bright

Creative collaborations between couples can be a wonderful thing. Two people taking advantage of their personal connection to enhance their creative work has vast potential. We’ve seen it a million times at the movies – think Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach or Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton, with one member of the pairing in front of the camera and the other behind.

Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone have this sort of collaborative relationship. Their latest team-up – their fourth with McCarthy starring and Falcone directing – is “Superintelligence,” currently streaming on HBO Max. However, this particular pairing, while robust in quantity, doesn’t quite live up to some of the others as far as quality is concerned.

This new film, the story of a newly self-aware AI deciding to use the most average person in the world to determine the ultimate fate of humanity, is a fairly lukewarm effort. The characterizations are thin and the story is needlessly convoluted, and while there are a handful of decent jokes and moments of physical comedy, the majority of the humor is built on a rickety foundation of pop culture references and overlong bits. McCarthy’s charm keeps it from completely collapsing, but her talents aren’t enough to fully salvage the experience.

Published in Movies

It seems as though we don’t get the same kinds of breakout comedies in the summer that we once did. The season has become overrun with blockbusters, and while I love superheroes and explosions as much as anyone and more than most, it’s nice to change it up once in a while. And occasionally, a comedy will achieve significant summertime success. A lot of factors have to line up for it to happen – timeliness, star power, subject matter, broad appeal and more – for a comedy to be that movie.

“Life of the Party” is not that movie.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 15:03

Exactly what I expected

What to Expect When You're Expecting' cliched and contrived

I've learned to be leery of films that trumpet their all-star casts. These ensemble rom-coms (they're always rom-coms unless Stallone is involved, anyway) feature more name talents than you can count on both hands, but they also run the danger of having too much of a good thing. The tendency with big-name casts is to try desperately to get everyone as much screen time as possible. This leads to multiple storylines with forced connections between them featuring a whole mess of characters that we as an audience simply don't have time to care about.

This leads to 'What to Expect When You're Expecting.'

Ostensibly based on the 1984 pregnancy advice book of the same name, the movie follows a number of couples as they feel their respective ways through the minefield that is pregnancy. There's Wendy (Elizabeth Banks, 'The Hunger Games') and Gary (Ben Falcone, 'Bridesmaids'), a couple that finally gets pregnant after years of trying. Celebrity trainer Jules (Cameron Diaz, 'Bad Teacher') met Evan (Matthew Morrison, TV's 'Glee') on a reality dance competition and wound up pregnant. Holly (Jennifer Lopez, 'The Back-Up Plan') and Alex (Rodrigo Santoro, 'Rio') can't conceive, so they're going through the adoption process.

Published in Movies

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