Saturday, April 10, 2021

Thunder Force

♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

A galactic incident in the 80’s triggers a mutation in the human genome leading some earthlings to develop superpowers. Among them are the villainous Miscreants who use their abilities to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting population. Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer) loses her parents when she was young to a Miscreant attack and vows to continue what they started, a genome project that could give ordinary humans special abilities. Her estranged high school best friend Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) pays her laboratory a visit on the night of their high school reunion and accidentally injects herself with the serum for super strength. Emily then takes her pills for invisibility. As the two begin to train and revive their lost friendship, they form a superhero duo called Thunder Force to serve as Chicago’s defenders against Miscreants such as The Crab (Jason Bateman) and Laser (Pom Klementieff).

By now it seems to be a foregone conclusion that any film partnership McCarthy engages in with her director husband Ben Falcone is most likely to fail. Perhaps the guy just does not have what it takes to come up with a decent comedy. Given how Spencer has an Academy Award under her belt and McCarthy herself has already been nominated twice, this superhero misfire could only be blamed on either the screenwriter or the director, both of which happen to be Falcone himself.

Even with expectations lowered, the material does not really give anything of value to add to this saturated genre. Any superhero film outside the MCU and the DCEU are subject to intense scrutiny because of the standards they have set. The only way for a superhero comedy to work is for the screenplay to be awesome or to take the parody path. Thunder Force could have just gone for the latter. Instead, it tried too hard to compete but miserably failed.

The one-liners are not witty at all and the jokes that manage to make you chuckle a bit can be counted with the fingers of one hand. McCarthy and Bateman get to recover some of their leftover chemistry from 2013’s Identity Thief. In Thunder Force, their team-up comes across as a bit forced and does not really contribute much to the comedy aspect which is severely lacking. Her rapport with Spencer is there alright but the script just drags both of them down, preventing them from coming up with a hilarious buddy comedy in the same vein as her outing with Sandra Bullock in The Heat.

The storyline, as already mentioned, tries to milk the superhero genre but falls flat. Loopholes abound, one just wonders why this film has been developed in the first place. Had Spencer and McCarthy really wanted to produce a movie that would immortalize their real-life friendship, perhaps a different comedy genre would have sufficed. Even the presence of MCU alum Klementieff is squandered of its potential as she settles for smirks and glares on high heels while blasting everyone with her imaginary lasers. Bobby Cannavale as The King does lend a sinister air to the character but fails alongside Laser for being one-dimensional.

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