‘Thunder Force’ Review — A Thundering Dud

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Thunder Force Review

Melissa McCarthy is nothing short of an incredible performer, one of the last remaining movie stars. She can kill the audience with gut-busting laughter or bring them to the verge of tears with tender emotion. With superheroes being the most ubiquitous commodity in movies these days, McCarthy headlining a superhero comedy seems like it’d be a slam dunk. However, Thunder Force, McCarthy’s latest collaboration with writer-director Ben Falcone (who is also her husband), is a thundering dud. Thunder Force takes an interesting concept – as well as a chance to change superhero body conventions with McCarthy teaming up alongside Octavia Spencer – only to let it slip away in a tediously predictable and unimaginative script.

In 1983, a cosmic event transformed the Earth, granting superpowers to a select few citizens. There’s a catch: the superpowers are bestowed upon people with sociopathic tendencies, effectively creating a whole new class of supervillains known as Miscreants. Before this idea can sink in and become tantalizing, Falcone’s script undermines itself by taking the long route with establishing its central premise. Emily (Spencer) and Lydia (McCarthy) are childhood friends who become superheroes to battle the Miscreant scourge, but Thunder Force starts by introducing these characters as children and teenagers, building a bond before having them fall out.

In modern times, Lydia is forklift driver who enjoys her beer and classic rock. Emily, on the other hand, has dedicated her life to researching the Miscreants and has become a successful tech entrepreneur. With a high school reunion looming (seriously), Lydia wonders about seeing her long lost friend again. When they eventually do reunite, Lydia doesn’t adhere to boundaries and accidentally injects herself with a special serum that Emily has been concocting. Soon, Lydia will have super-strength. Emily opts to take a treatment that will give her the ability to become invisible. Now this unlikely duo of superheroes will battle the Miscreants as Thunder Force.

Miscreant attacks led by nefarious villains such as The Crab (Jason Bateman, whose performance suggests he already checked out to the vacation house his paycheck purchased) and Laser (Pom Klementieff) are on the rise. Meanwhile, there’s a mayoral race underway in the city with the boisterous personality The King (Bobby Cannavale, the one actor who gets what movie he’s in) running to lead the city. Thunder Force must battle superpowered villains, a local political race, and media scrutiny.

What I found most frustrating about Thunder Force is the fact that it has absolutely nothing to say or add on the topic of superheroes. It’s the most dominant force in the culture for nearly a decade and all this film does is tread in the genre’s most tired tropes without any wit or insight. The film even tries to pull off some late twists and reveals that were beyond obvious from the film’s early frames. The plotting and direction to the film’s superhero angles is so pedestrian that the film relies solely on laughs that come sporadically at best.

Melissa McCarthy is one of the funniest people alive, but a successful comedy needs more than just riffing. And that’s really what Thunder Force has to offer for laughs. But Falcone has shown time and time again he’s not the best director for reining in the riffing to actually craft jokes. Scenes drag on and bits stop being funny in Thunder Force because the riffing just runs too long. Even the headlining duo feels more like stunt casting than anything else as the film lacks the biting commentary of other genre comedies like Spy.

Thunder Force isn’t the kind of bad movie that deserves scorn. It’s the kind of bad movie that is just a big nothing. It’s modestly amusing at times but it goes through you like junk food. Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy seem to be nice people in a loving relationship. Their working relationship, on the other hand, hasn’t produced any good films.

Thunder Force
  • Overall Score
2

Summary

Despite a dynamic headlining duo and a promising premise, the superhero comedy Thunder Force is short on laughs and quickly forgettable.

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