Superhero movies are everywhere these days. With the prevalence of Marvel and DC films, including Zack Snyder’s Justice League just last month, it seems that everyone wants to jump on the superhero cinema bandwagon. It was only a matter of time before Melissa McCarthy got hers.
Ben Falcone writes and directs the superhero comedy, Thunder Force, yet another comedy film with a starring role tailor-made for his wife, Melissa McCarthy. This couple has given us movies such as Tammy, The Boss, and last year’s Superintelligence, so with a track record like this, you should lower your expectations.
This film features McCarthy as a woman named Lydia who teams up with her estranged best friend, Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer), to become a superhero duo named Thunder Force. The two must stop supervillains known as Miscreants.
Let’s not beat around the bush — this movie is absolutely abysmal. It’s a bit sad how this turned out because McCarthy has proven herself to be funny in action comedies such as Spy and The Heat. Furthermore, the superhero genre has effectively blended with comedy in films such as Thor: Ragnarok and Shazam!.
But this film doesn’t work, mainly due to the comedy. The humor is uncomfortably weak, and every attempt at it fails. Much of the film feels like they’re allowing McCarthy to ad-lib funny lines on the spot while other characters react with puzzled expressions.
While there are a few moments that almost work, the comedy isn’t nearly funny enough to support an actual film. The pop culture references are demoralizing and cringeworthy, as we watch two talented comedic actresses with great chemistry have nothing funny to work with.
The concept here is fine; the idea of a superhero duo teaming up to fight a world of supervillains is good. But the film doesn’t do much with the premise. The story is very by-the-numbers, and offers nothing that we haven’t seen in the years of superhero films we’ve gotten.
One of the better aspects of the film is the camaraderie between the two mains, Lydia and Emily. They are two friends who have grown apart, and this film is about the two rekindling their friendship as they become superheroes. That is a good idea, but the execution is remarkably mediocre.
Furthermore, the film does an acceptable job of setting up the characters. Emily’s backstory is ridden with clichés, with the dead parents and getting bullied as a kid. There is a personal story with Emily and her relationships with her parents and daughter that is set up well but doesn’t reach its full potential.
The story does not have enough setups and payoffs, and the story is not unique at all. The script feels lazy, with the film hitting every story beat that we’re so accustomed to seeing, but without putting a nice twist on it. The action sequences are vastly forgettable.
Perhaps the film could earn some points back if it were funny, but it’s not. We have an action scene interrupted by a random dance number that is attempting to go for absurd comedy, but it doesn’t work. Falcone’s inability to write humor that fully lands may be the film’s greatest detriment.
Comedy is hard to write, but everything surrounding the comedy is poor as well — the villains are very weak, and it’s so easy to forget they exist within the story that the film needs to remind us of them using an occasional news broadcast. We have a plot twist that ultimately goes nowhere. It’s a generic story with comedy that, unfortunately, misses the mark.
Grade: ★✬☆☆☆ [3/10, D]
Thunder Force releases on Netflix April 9, 2021.
Rating: PG-13 for some action/violence, language and mild suggestive material