I want to start this review off with an apology. I actually watched this movie a full two weeks ago, but am only getting around to it now, by a time when I’m sure many of you have already watched it. Perhaps though that sums up Thunder Force in the most perfect way possible, it’s instantly forgettable and not likely to leave you with much once its run time comes to an end.
In truth though, you really shouldn’t t expect too much from a movie considering the creative force behind it. Every single collaboration of director Ben Falcone and his wife Melissa McCarthy (Tammy, The Boss, Life of the Party and Superintelligence) have been terrible films devoid of much humour and descending into silly antics. A tragedy if you consider the comedic talent that is Melissa McCarthy.
To be fair though, if you go into this movie with the low bar this duo have already set, then you are going to likely enjoy Thunder Force. While I found it deeply flawed, it was easily the best Ben Falcone movie ever made. Thanks to a decent build-up of its characters that provides some added heart and a few genuinely funny moments, the film almost survives its many silly gags and ludicrous plot to provide some level of enjoyment, provided you don’t try and overthink it.
Thunder Force tells the story of Lydia Berman (McCarthy) and Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer) as two school friends who grow up in a world terrorized by supervillains (called Miscreants), as a strange anomaly has allowed only people with psychotic tendencies to get these powers. And while Spenser’s Emily – whose parents died at the hands of these villains – is a diligent academic determined to put an end to this injustice – McCarthy’s Lydia is just an aloof fun-loving person who wants to get by from day-to-day. Aka, pretty much every character she has played in these films by Falcone.
Th friendship eventually dissipates, and both go their separate ways until they rekindle their friendship later in life with Emily on the cusp of achieving a secret formula to superpowers, only for Lydia’s silly ways to allow her to get implanted with one of these superpowers, leaving Emily to experiment with the other formula she created. Neither have any idea what they are really getting themselves into and quickly find themselves up again a variety of supervillains.
I am a huge fan of superheroes and even more so when they can add some humour into the mix, but sadly it’s at this point that the film goes completely downhill. The film’s best moments are actually when it is building up its world and characters and the friendship between Emily and Lydia. There are some great moments along the way and even if it’s rather cliched, the chemistry between both actresses (and the actresses that play their younger selves) is really good. There are also some good laughs to be had during their transitional moments as they go through various stages of training and change to develop their superpowers.
When it comes to getting into some superhero action though the movie is a complete mess. Not only are the action scenes poorly executed, but the villains themselves are tragically underwritten, with stupid motives and there is just so much silliness on display (especially around Jason Bateman’s character The Crab) that you stop caring for any of them. In fact, the film appears like a set up for a few gags with much of this superhero story in between not adding anything decent into the mix.
The movie wants to be this big superhero epic, but then somehow confines into to a few small suburbs in Chicago without any good reason, with the villains never really coming across as particularly threatening, resort to mostly small store robberies than anything world-threatening. It honestly makes you wonder what the fuss is all about and why the world is so terrorized by them in the first place. Things are also just far too convenient for its superheroes and the twists can all be seen from a mile away
Sure, McCarthy and Spencer try hard, but when the material you have to work with is not very good in the first place there is only so much you can do. I feel for actors like Bateman, Bobby Cannavale, Pom Klementieff and Melissa Leo whose talents are all wasted in their roles. I can certainly see the appeal of a film like this but its good ideas got lost in some poor execution and poor writing. Perhaps Falcone would’ve been better served actually just pulling a superhero story directly out of the comics than trying to conjure one up for himself when he clearly doesn’t have an affinity for it.
In fact, the biggest superhero feat this film pulls off is convincing you it may actually be good in the first parts of the movie before frustrating falling apart at the end when it is too late to look for something else to watch.
As mentioned, though Falcone and McCarthy have been far worse and while this film is unlikely to be particularly memorable in your mind, it may prove enough of a distraction to give you the entertainment fix you need. Or leave you instantly regretting it and moving elsewhere instead. This might be the best movie Falcone has ever made, but that bar is sadly set so low that even if it goes over it, it still trips and falls. There is progress though and so who knows, if studios keep throwing money at his movies there is hope that eventually, they might finally be good. Maybe.
Last Updated: April 26, 2021