“Thunder Force” stars Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Jason Bateman, Bobby Cannavale, Pom Klementieff, Kevin Dunn, and Melissa Leo. Released on Netflix on April 9, 2021, the film has two best friends using their super abilities to save the world.
The film was written and directed by Ben Falcone, who also directed “Tammy”, “The Boss”, “Life of the Party”, and “Superintelligence”. Superheroes have been the pure dominant draw in film since the early 2000s, whether they’re from Marvel or DC. This weekend sees two new superheroes that are neither from those two popular brands. They’re pretty super, but the “hero” part still needs work. It didn’t take us long for Ben Falcone and his wife Melissa McCarthy to reunite once again to either make us laugh or bore us to tears. For their latest collaboration together, they’re taking on the concept of, you guessed it, superheroes. While I was curious to see McCarthy become a superhero, I was also cautious about the film giving Falcone’s track record as a filmmaker. His last film, “Superintelligence”, was a massive disappointment in my eyes in terms of its execution and story, and I feel that he might repeat his mistake with this one if he’s not careful. I guess the only way to know for sure is to watch the sparks fly for myself.
The story is set in an alternate reality where criminals with superpowers known as the Miscreants rule over the city. Luckily, one person has the solution that’ll help combat these dangerous threats. Enter Emily Stanton (Spencer), a scientist who created a serum that can give regular people incredible abilities. When her estranged childhood friend Lydia Berman (McCarthy) accidentally gave herself the serum, she and Emily will have to use their given powers to protect the city from the ruthless supervillain, The King (Cannavale). An unsurprisingly fitting plot for a superhero origin film, don’t you agree? This is another movie that combines two of my favorite genres: superhero action and comedy. I always find it fitting to see superheroes save the day and deliver some chuckles along the way. With the proper execution (and an appropriate budget), this could be another grand slam for McCarthy fans and people who want to watch powerful characters beat each other up. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. “Thunder Force” had a bunch of talented actors and plenty of super-powered potential under its utility belt, but it never got the chance to put them to good use. Admittedly, it seemed like the actors were having some fun working on this. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for me. Similar to what happened with “Superintelligence”, Ben Falcone took a promising concept and covered it with a script that’s painfully generic and characters that tried way too hard to be humorous and likable. His direction on the action sequences was okay for the most part, but everything else was lazily tame. I guess they should’ve called it “Blunder Force” instead because of how many blunders this film carried. If you enjoyed McCarthy’s brand of humor in her other films, which is physical comedy and awkward dialogue, chances are you might not be disappointed with her latest outing. I thought she did all right in her role as Lydia, even though her humor bits were pretty forgettable. It’s one of those cases where the script didn’t have enough clever material for a comedian to work with and just gave them some random junk to say or do and see what sticks. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t always work. As much as I appreciate Octavia Spencer in her other films, I felt that this wasn’t suitable for her. Out of all of the performances I’ve seen from her so far, I hate to say that her role as Emily was the weakest, in my opinion. She did what she could to carry the film, and I respect her for that, but the way she delivered some of her dialogue just sounded a bit wooden to me. Jason Bateman and Bobby Cannavale were also okay with their performances as The Crab and The King, respectively. But again, Falcone’s screenplay failed to give them enough good material to work with. The biggest upset that forced the film to hang up its cape so soon was the humor. Five movies in and Falcone still hasn’t cracked that comedy aspect yet. I think that may be his superpower. He can suck the laughs out of every film he touches. A couple of scenes almost got me to chuckle a bit, and that’s about it. Not only did the jokes rely way too much on the physical slapstick and corny dialogue to get some laughs, but it also failed to take full advantage of its concept. “Shazam” nailed the humor perfectly by poking fun at the superhero tropes and injecting some intelligence and charm into those jokes. Here, it’s just, “Oh, look at McCarthy falling in love with a criminal with crab arms. Isn’t that funny?” Short answer: I don’t think so, and I’m pretty sure almost everyone else will feel the same way.
Overall, “Thunder Force” is neither super nor heroic enough to stand alongside the likes of The Avengers or the Justice League. I honestly didn’t think that Ben Falcone could go that much lower than “Superintelligence”, but here we are. This is a mediocre imitation of every superhero film we’ve seen before that lacks three crucial qualities: comedy, wit, and, more importantly, fun. Despite a few okay moments here and there, its cliched screenplay, subpar cast, dull jokes, and Falcone’s poor sense of direction are the big pieces of kryptonite that quickly sent the film down to Earth faster than the Man of Steel himself. Now I’m not going to be the type of person who talks about how bad of a filmmaker Ben Falcone is because I’m better than that. However, I would say that he should go back to directing regular comedies and leave these types of films to someone who understands them better. If you like McCarthy and Spencer in their other films, this film may or may not be suitable to your liking. You’re better off waiting for “Black Widow” instead.