Review: Severely inept 'Thunder Force' has zero sizzle
Courtesy of Netflix
Not in my wildest dreams did I think Ben Falcone’s ill-fated spoof of the superhero genre “Thunder Force” would feature his wife/muse Melissa McCarthy downing buckets of raw chicken as a running gag and enlist Jason Bateman to play a supervillain named Crab which is a half-human/half crustacean hybrid, but the Lord works in mysterious ways. If 2020 didn’t punish our will and spirit to live, along comes “Thunder Force” which assembles an array of Oscar calibrated talent to question what sanity means in 2021. As someone who occasionally defends the McCarthy/Falcone cinematic universe (“Life of the Party” wasn’t awful) it’s remarkable how out of touch and woefully inept their latest venture is. Considering the onslaught of superhero fare that’s clogged the airwaves in the last decade, I’m not surprised “Thunder Force” exists, but the inspirational material isn’t that hard to poke holes through (“Deadpool” did it quite well) and the best joke Falcone can muster is McCarthy doing horrible impersonations of famous musicians?
“Thunder Force” opens with a quick comic panel montage plotting the origins of a massive pulse of interstellar cosmic rays that hit earth and turned a handful of random citizens into evil doers dubbed “Miscreants.” Enter Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer) who was a child when her parents were killed by Miscreants and has made it her life's work to create a hero serum that’ll give humans the chance to fight back. Though a brainiac in high school, Emily was balanced out by her slacker best friend Lydia (McCarthy) except their vastly different career paths pushed them in separate directions. Emily runs her own technology institute that specializes in genetic breakthroughs, and Lydia operates a crane for the local construction yard. Of course, they rekindle over a botched high school reunion some years later, and would you believe that Lydia accidently gets herself entangled in one of Emily’s hero serum trials?
Injected with “super strength,” Lydia undergoes a series of tests and skill-builders alongside Emily who is honing the power of invisibility. One of “Thunder Forces” prime jokes is how McCarthy must get jabbed with needles each morning whereas Spencer takes a singular pill. Ironic considering needle injection sound better than enduring this movie again.
After a tussle with some goons – notably The Crab (Bateman, who clearly needed a quick paycheck in-between seasons of “Ozark”) – the public is quick to accept Thunder Force as a beacon in the community, but with crime steadily rising and a crucial mayoral election coming up – where a notorious mobster kingpin played by a sniveling Bobby Cannavale is vying for the bid – their work is cut out for them. But instead of exploring the mortality play and finding humor within the superhero genre, Falcone devotes a good chunk of punchlines in the film’s latter half to lobster puns and fat jokes. It’s hard to imagine a more dynamite lineup succumbing to a worst script.
Then again studio comedies have been dwindling in stature since the rise of streaming and “Thunder Force” won’t have trouble luring an audience thanks to Netflix’s massive global reach and major movie stars. But, unlike movie theaters, at least folks at home can change the channel and find something better to do with their time.
THUNDER FORCE is now streaming on Netflix