Sunday, 18 April 2021

Netflix And Chill: Thunder Force (2021)

I really like Melissa McCarthy. I am fed up of saying that to people who think that she does nothing more than fall over and swear. It gets more depressing when she then goes on to appear in a movie in which she seems to do little more than fall over and swear. Although he's done some good work with his wife onscreen, writer-director Ben Falcone is one person who misunderstands the best way to use McCarthy comedically. In her best roles, and two of those were starring in Paul Feig films, she is smart and competent, but with an ability to swear enough to make a sailor blush while everyone arounds her underestimates her.

Thunder Force is set in a world in which some people have suddenly received superpowers, leading them to a life of super-villainy. After losing her parents at a young age, Emily Stanton is determined to devote her time to creating a superhero worthy of taking on the villains. Unfortunately, after decades of working on this main goal, Emily has her work potentially ruined when her old childhood friend, Lydia Berman visits her place of work. Lydia ends up being given super-strength, while Emily continues a treatment schedule that should give her the ability to become invisible. Perhaps they can still protect people, but do it as a team. The Thunder Force. Or perhaps they won't agree on the best way to do things. Emily has always been very cautious, after all, while Lydia is the kind to act first and think later.

I am sure it's already obvious to you, but McCarthy plays the Berman character here. Stanton is played by Octavia Spencer, who has spent the past couple of years in movies that focus on delivering some fun (yes, that includes Ma). Neither lead is given good enough material, leaving both of them desperately trying to create some additional chemistry that, I'm sorry to say, doesn't ever appear. Taylor Mosby helps, playing Tracy (the daughter of Emily), she's a lively presence, but the rest of the fun here really comes from the other supporting players. Melissa Leo is Allie, a strait-laced head of operations, and is the butt of one or two good gags, Bobby Cannavale is The King, a candidate for mayor who has a plan involving the super-villains, Pom Klementieff is Laser, having a blast as she tries to blast people, and Jason Bateman is a highlight as The Crab, someone with crab appendages where his arms would be. 

I am sure that Falcone and McCarthy make each other laugh loudly many times each day, and I'm sure that happened while making this movie, but the former really needs to take a step back, or sideways, to remind himself of just how much better he could do behind the camera, in both the writing and direction, instead of resting so much of the film on his wife's shoulders.

It's not as terrible as many people will tell you it is, but Thunder Force doesn't do anything to make it truly worth your time. There are too few laughs sprinkled throughout, the superhero side of things is all too silly (although an exchange between the head villain and a henchman that he may have killed is very amusing), and it feels like everyone may have had so much fun behind the scenes that they forgot to capture any of it on camera.


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