Review: 'Thunder Force' (2021) Dir. Ben Falcone
A new Netflix Original bringing acclaimed comedienne Melissa McCarthy and star Octavia Spencer together for a fresh take on the superhero genre, with questionable results...
After a cosmic ray hits Chicago in 1983, a select few were gifted with superhuman abilities. But those affected soon became sociopaths and turned to crime, working under the title of Miscreants. In present day, the Miscreants still run crime across the city.
Geneticist Emily Stanton (Spencer) has spent a lifetime fulfilling her parents work and creating the ability to gift normal people with safe super powers to fight the Miscreants. But lifelong friend Lydia Berman (McCarthy) is exposed to the new genetics by accident.
Emily must oversee Lydia's transformation and both adjust to their new heroic roles. As "Thunder Force", the pair set about helping fight back against crime crime; namely a powerful Miscreant called Laser (Klementieff) and the evil leader known as "The King"...
'Thunder Force' feels like a Netflix platform for Melissa McCarthy to lead with her comedic extravagance, over-performing and her improv riffs. Octavia Spencer is the "rock" to McCarthy's juggernaut of daft comedy, but Spencer doesn't feel like is her vehicle at all. With her stand out work in Hidden Figures and The Shape of Water, we have this calibre of actress up against one who is given material such urinating when hit in the stomach or prat falling.
Given this is the fifth collaboration between McCarthy and husband (and director) Ben Falcone, it's hard to see this as nothing more than a vanity project for the pair to showcase her daft comedy in a script Falcone also wrote. There is no sharp observational comedy on display here - it's in your face, silly words, shouting, silly voices, moaning and groaning and often just puerile. Seeing people constantly surprised by said super powers and the effects it has on them also wears off quickly.
This makes it more difficult to see why Spencer is involved with her track record of non-comedy such as this. Spencer is watchable harmless in her role, but just plays second fiddle. And you can't help think some of the comedy is just based on their size being not the typical look for heroes such as awkward figure hugging outfits or awkwardly squeezing into sports cars.
With a mis-match of leads, the result is a mis-match of silly comedy, daft action and dial-in performances that fail to be anything like entertainment.
With support from MCU vet Pom Klementieff as badass villain Laser, Bobby Cannavale as The King crime lord and comedian-on-call Jason "The Crab" Bateman who makes this feel like a wider SNL skit, the thin as paper plot about villains taking over the city in the guise of politics, it's sadly the marmite lead of McCarthy who makes or breaks this.
You either find the low-brow comedy entertaining and funny from the mind of Falcone, or you don't. There is nothing new or overtly funny on offer with so much time spent on the sparring between McCarthy and Spencer.
The CGI is not too bad when offered up and ticks the boxes for the fantastical world of superheroes, but there's little of that to give us anything entertaining that something like 2016s Ghostbusters did with a decent blend of both.
This lazy effort is just a showcase for bad comedy.
An extended SNL sketch set in the world of the superheroes, this lazy comedy is less thunder and more drizzle.
'Thunder Force' is a co-production between On the Day Productions and Marc Platt Productions