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Film Review: 'Thelma' is the Sweetest Mix of Action, Comedy, and Senior Citizens You'll Ever See – Awards Radar

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Film Review: 'Thelma' is the Sweetest Mix of Action, Comedy, and Senior Citizens You'll Ever See – Awards Radar
Magnolia Pictures

An unlikely action hero can be a lot of fun. There might not be a more unlikely one in 2024 than June Squibb, but that’s just what she is in Thelma, a tale of a grandmother taking back what’s hers. An action-comedy hybrid that gives a senior citizen her very own revenge tale? Yep, it’s as good as it sounds, too. The film is a low level blast.

Thelma shows not just that a bit of cleverness can go a long way, but also that we should never put performers into a box due to their age. You wouldn’t expect a star vehicle for Squibb in her 90s to begin with, but a mix of action and comedy that explicitly references the Mission: Impossible franchise? It sounds like a dream, but once you see it, you’ll know that this movie is just a dream come true.

Magnolia Pictures

Thelma Post (Squibb) lives a fairly simple life ever since she lost her husband. Her grandson Daniel (Fred Hechinger) comes by a lot to help her with the computer, hang out, and just be a good egg. She doesn’t hear too well anymore and occasionally gets confused, but for a 93 year old, she’s doing just fine. One day, after Daniel heads home, she gets a call from someone pretending to be him, scamming her into thinking he’s been in an accident. Suspicious initially but too worried about him to really consider things, she sends off some money, scaring her daughter Gail (Parker Posey) and her husband Alan (Clark Gregg) in the process. When they all figure out that she’s been taken for a ride, they start to think if she needs to be put into a home. Embarrassed, Thelma has other plans.

While Alan and Gail are hounding Daniel about his life choices, Thelma takes the opportunity to begin an investigation. Stealing a ride from her friend Ben (Richard Roundtree), he eventually joins her on this mission. As they navigate the clues and begin to bond again, they actually manage to sniff out a lead or two. I won’t say what ends up happening, but it’s deeply satisfying, to say the least, and even touching.

Magnolia Pictures

June Squibb gets the role of a lifetime at 93 and runs with it. Getting to play age appropriate, she’s funny, sad, and always captivating. The late Richard Roundtree is just as good, with the two of them having impeccable chemistry. She’s relishing this opportunity, while he is having so much fun. It’s a pleasure to watch them in action, even if she’s in it more than he is. Clark Gregg, Fred Hechinger, and Parker Posey are less memorable, though Hechinger does get some nice moments with Squibb. Supporting players include Nicole Byer, Aidan Fiske, Malcolm McDowell, Ruben Rabasa, and more, but Squibb is the star.

Writer/director Josh Margolin puts such a lovely little spin on the genre here, clearly wanting to honor his grandmother, but also just wanting to tell a good story. It’s a revenge tale on par with any of late, but the action and comedy are all done in such a way befitting characters closer to the century mark than any other potential action heroes. Things run a bit long and there isn’t a ton of style on display, but Margolin has the goods with Thelma when it comes to fun. Entertainment value? That’s through the roof here.

Thelma is a delight. The premise certainly sounds appealing, with the execution landing in a big way. This is a genuine crowd-pleaser of the first order. As far as summer counter-programming goes, this is the kind of flick that deserves to be a hit. Don’t miss this one!

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SCORE: ★★★

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Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Twisters (2024) –

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Movie Review: Twisters (2024) –

A staff report

Genre: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
Release Date: Friday, July 19, 2024
Director: Steven Harper
Starring: Edgar-Jones, Powell, Ramos
Rating: ★★★★☆

As storm season sweeps across the silver screen in “Twisters”, director Steven Harper delivers a gripping tale of adrenaline-fueled action set against the tumultuous backdrop of Oklahoma’s tornado alley. With an impressive 80% fresh rating on the Tomatometer, this film promises a thrilling ride for audiences seeking heart-pounding suspense and breathtaking visual effects.

The story centers around Kate Carter (played by Edgar-Jones), a seasoned meteorologist turned cautious researcher in New York City, haunted by a traumatic tornado encounter from her college days. Drawn back into the tempestuous world of storm chasing by her friend Javi (Ramos), Kate finds herself confronting not only the fury of nature but also her own fears.

Enter Tyler Owens (Powell), a charismatic social-media maverick whose daredevil antics and thrill-seeking escapades with his crew make him a viral sensation. Together, Kate, Tyler, and their teams embark on a daring mission to test a revolutionary tracking system amidst unprecedented storm activity.

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Harper masterfully intertwines elements of action, adventure, and suspense as the storm season escalates to unprecedented levels of intensity. The visual spectacle is nothing short of breathtaking, with jaw-dropping tornado sequences and high-stakes encounters that keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

The cast delivers compelling performances, with Edgar-Jones portraying Kate’s internal struggle and determination with depth and vulnerability. Powell brings charisma and a hint of recklessness to Tyler, balancing the film’s emotional core with adrenaline-pumping excitement.

Supporting characters, including Javi and Tyler’s crew members, add layers of camaraderie and tension, enhancing the film’s dynamic ensemble. The chemistry between the leads feels genuine, grounding the narrative amidst the chaos of nature’s fury.

While “Twisters” thrills with its action-packed sequences and impressive visual effects, it also explores themes of courage, redemption, and the relentless pursuit of scientific discovery. The storm-chasing backdrop serves not only as a canvas for thrilling set pieces but also as a metaphor for confronting one’s past and embracing the unknown.

In conclusion, “Twisters” (2024) stands out as a must-watch summer blockbuster, blending pulse-pounding excitement with compelling storytelling and standout performances. Whether you’re a fan of disaster epics or simply seeking an exhilarating cinematic experience, buckle up for a ride through the eye of the storm with Kate, Tyler, and their fearless crews.

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Film Review: Operation Undead (2024) by Kongkiat Komesiri

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Film Review: Operation Undead (2024) by Kongkiat Komesiri

“Operation Undead” is an excellent zombie movie, both for the action and horror, but also for its anti-war and historic comments

As we have mentioned before, the zombie genre is one that has been done to death throughout the history of modern cinema. However, a number of filmmakers who still decide to deal with the concept, manage to find new elements to add, in one of the reasons zombies keep going (pun intended). Thai Kongkiat Komesiri is definitely among those. 

The film begins in 1939, during World War II in Chumphon Province, where Mek, a new sergeant, just learns that his girlfriend is pregnant. In the meantime, his younger brother, Mok, is in the Youth Soldier unit, and as war has not yet hit the area, spends his time having fun and shenanigans with his fellow soldiers. Alas, it is at that moment that the Japanese forces approach the area, and the whole population face death and destruction. The Japanese, however, apart from taking over the province for strategic reasons, they have also decided to test a new biological weapon on the locals. The result is a superhuman horde of Thai soldiers that function like zombies, but a number of them still retain their conscience. Not to mention they have a leader. Eventually, Thai and Japanese forces declare a ceasefire to deal with the threat, and Mek receives a special covert mission to clean up the area alongside a Japanese combat unit, unaware that this might include his own brother.

The uniqueness of Kongkiat Komesiri’s approach to the zombie trope is actually multifold. Evidently, the most obvious one is the fact that the zombies still have a brain and can think and feel, while the fact that they are organized under the leadership of a ‘commander’ adds even more to the threat they present to the humans. More impressively though, is the way the filmmakers use zombies to show the dehumanizing nature of war, or even civil war one could say, as this time brother faces brother. Furthermore, the accusation towards the Japanese for the experiments using humans they undertook during the various military expeditions, is also palpable.

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Lastly, and probably even more impressively, the parallel with Thai history during WW2 is quite eloquent in a rather intelligent approach. Thailand actually made an agreement with the Japanese that led to an armistice and military alliance treaty that allowed the passage of Japanese troops towards British-held Malaya and Burma. After the invasion, the cooperation continued, and eventually led to the government splitting into two factions, one Pro-Japan and and pro-Allies. As the actual war hit the country very briefly, the victims were very few but Thais suffered deaths due to diseases that reached more than 5,500 thousand. Evidently, the parallel with the story could not be more obvious. 

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All the aforementioned, as much as the impact of what the two armies and the zombies are doing on the area, to the locals, induce the movie with an intense sense of drama, which works quite well most of the time. Unfortunately, on a number of occasions, and more towards the end, the movie goes into intensely melodramatic paths, something that definitely detracts from its impact. At the same time, this element, the zombies, and the anti-Japanese sentiment is probably what will make the movie popular in Korea, with K-Movie entertainment already having purchased the rights.

The acting by the two main protagonists is quite good. Nonkul as Mek and Awat Ratanapintha as Mok are quite good in their antithetical roles, while handling the drama in a style fitting to the overall approach of the narrative. Supitcha Sangkhachinda as Mek’s girlfriend is also good, particularly in the dramatic parts. 

Expectedly, though, “Operation Undead” is also about the action, and in that regard, it definitely thrives. The zombies look as scary as possible, with the occasionally frantic editing that results in sequences of thunderous speed adding much to this element. The brutality is found in large proportions, adding to the entertainment the movie offers, in a style that zombie lovers will definitely appreciate. The sound is also greatly implemented, adding to the agony and tension, while the job done in the cinematography does not omit highlighting the beauties of the area.

Despite the fact that it definitely goes a bit too strong on the melodrama, “Operation Undead” is an excellent zombie movie, both for the action and horror, but also for its anti-war and historic comments that definitely deem it a stand out in the category. 

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Film Review: Kingdom: Return of the General by Shinsuke Sato

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Film Review: Kingdom: Return of the General by Shinsuke Sato

“Kingdom: Return of the General” continues in the same, rather high quality of the previous movies, while intensifying the drama

The fourth installment in what has come to be one of the best and most successful anime/manga adaptations is as epic as the previous parts, in the movie that concludes the first season of the anime (there are 5 by the way). 

The last chapter of the first season is actually the most dramatic one, with the focus changing, after a point, from Shin and his crew towards Ohki, in a rather well-deserved, as much as successful approach. The drama, however, starts essentially from the beginning of the film, with the appearance of Pang Nuan, aka God of War, who attacks the group out of the blue. Shin seems to pose no threat to him at all, while Qiang Lei, who does her best to counter him, soon realizes that she is no match either. The group suffers tremendous losses, with a number of Shin’s men dying and the rest barely making it out. 

Soon, and as flashbacks reveal Ohki’s tragic past, it becomes evident that Pang Nuan actually aims at him, as a fighter who seems to stand on equal level as the field leader of the country of Zhao. While he poses a threat to Ohki as a fighter, Li Mu, Zhao’s main general, does the same to him as a strategist, with Qin’s army eventually finding themselves in a tremendous binge. 

Up until now, the good guys were going from victory to victory, with Shin and his crew growing exponentially with each success, and the same applying to the Kingdom of Qin. This time, however, all the protagonists seem to find their matches, with the consequences being dire. In that fashion, the dramatic aspect of the movie, which has taken the place of the political one, is quite intense, essentially on par with the action. Ohki’s past adds even more to this sense, while the ending of the movie is probably the most tragic in the four parts. Add to that the loss of some of Shin’s comrades that have been following him since he left his village, and you have the backbone of the drama here. 

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Considering the focus is also intensely on Ohki, Takao Osawa, who reprises his role from the previous installments, gets to shine even more, in another impressive performance that has his theatricality being even more imposing. Furthermore, he is also the protagonist of the most impressive fight in the movie, with his rather prolonged one-on-one with the God of War being a wonder to watch. Even more so, since the two armies around them also continue to clash, with neither stripping anything from the impact of the other. This rather prolonged sequence is a testament to both Shinsuke Sato’s direction and the overall editing, with the succession between the two settings being truly astonishing. 

The same quality applies to the rather fast pace here, which, despite the 145 minutes of the movie, does not seem to lag at all, as it has enough story, characters and events to carry it fully. The cinematography and the SFX are also on a very high level, with the filmmakers taking full advantage of the different settings, forest, mountain, desert-like in order to present images of true epicness. 

Kento Yamazaki as Xin plays his character with an excessiveness that goes too far on occasion but actually mirrors the original. Kanna Hashimoto as He Liao Diao is quite good in the exact opposite style, with the same applying to Shun Oguri as Li Mu, who steals the show even if his role is brief. 

“Kingdom: Return of the General” continues in the same, rather high quality of the previous movies, while has enough elements, particularly regarding the permeating drama, to make it  stand out. 

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