Netflix review: 'Love and Monsters,' 'Thunder Force'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Apr 17 2021 09:56 AM

 LOVE AND MONSTERS

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Because of the chemicals released by these bombs detonated to avert an asteroid disaster, all cold-blooded creatures were turned into giant monsters which soon wiped out all but 10% of the world's population. Joel Dawson (Dylan O'Brien) was in one of these survivors and he is the cook of his underground bunker community. One day, Joel was able to talk to his girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick) on the radio. Despite his tendency to freeze up in terror, Joel resolved to go to the surface to seek out Aimee's seaside colony to reunite with her.

Overall, the film was very entertaining and well-paced by director Michael Matthews, although for me the momentum sort of petered out a bit by the time it reached the climax. One of the cool things about this film was how they reimagined insects, crustaceans, amphibians and reptiles as man-eating monsters. 29 year-old Dylan O'Brien (best known as lead character Thomas in "The Maze Runner" films) gave a solid and engaging performance as Joel, that you'd root for him to succeed in his quest for his first love. Clyde (Michael Rooker) and Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt), whom Joel met en route, were also very likable characters, reminiscent of Tallahassee and Little Rock in the similarly post-apocalyptic "Zombieland" films. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."

 THUNDER FORCE

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In March of 1983, blast of cosmic rays from outer space. This radiation caused genetic mutations that gave certain sociopathic people special powers which they unfortunately used for evil, gaining them the nickname Miscreants. Ever since she was a child, genius Emily Stanton buried herself in her studies, always focused on her dream to fight these Miscreants who caused the death of her parents. She only had one friend who protected her from bullies, her best friend Lydia, her direct opposite both physically and in attitude.

Fast forward to the present, Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) grew up to be a crane-operator at the container facility, while Emily (Octavia Spencer) grew up to be the super-scientist. When Lydia came to pick Emily up for their reunion, her mischief caused Lydia to be accidentally injected with the super-strength serum that Emily invented to give super powers to regular humans. Along with Emily who took the pills which can cause her to be invisible, the duo faced the challenge of the Miscreants as the Thunder Force.

The Miscreants were led by a man running for mayor of Chicago calling himself "The King" (Bobby Cannavale). Laser (Pom Klementieff) was a violent, hot-headed Miscreant who can throw blue destructive lightning bolts, very far from her calm quiet MCU superhero Mantis. The Crab had crab claws for arms but no clear powers that I noted, but the fact that this rather silly Miscreant was played by a big name Jason Bateman, you could predict that he will have more to do than just petty theft in a supermarket. 

Octavia Spencer is more known for her dramatic roles in acclaimed films like "The Shape of Water" (2017), "Hidden Figures" (2016) and "The Help" (2011) where she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Here as Emily, Spencer underplayed to further contrast herself from the bombastic McCarthy, or did she just phone it in on purpose? In contrast with the single Lydia, Emily had family to further interact with, a loving grandmother Norma (Marcella Lowery) and a similarly bright daughter Tracy (Taylor Mosby).

Just like in "The Heat" (2013), Melissa McCarthy's Lydia was a brusque, foul-mouthed, uncouth character, the absolute opposite of her regimented, straight-laced partner made for good old-fashioned comedy trope -- the odd couple. It was practically an exact remake of that absurdly successful winning formula. However, in comparison, the writing of the jokes here were not as sharp or as funny as they were in "The Heat." McCarthy's jokes here felt like lazy ad libs, were generally lame and corny, falling flat most of the time.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."