Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Bobby Cannavale, Pom Klementieff, Kevin Dunn, Taylor Mosby, Marcella Lowery, Tyrel Jackson Williams, Melissa Ponzio, Melissa Leo and Jason Bateman
In a world where supervillains are commonplace, two estranged childhood best friends reunite after one devises a treatment that gives them powers to protect their city.
In a world where supervillains are commonplace, two estranged childhood best friends, Lydia and Emily, reunite after Emily devises a treatment that gives them the powers to protect their city. While the pair have wildly different personalities, Lydia is a free spirit who leaps without looking and Emily is a meticulous scientist, their lifelong bond of friendship sees them through their adventures. With help from Emily’s daughter Tracy, the two are ready to battle the villains in the city.
Thunder Force is a superhero comedy written and directed by Ben Falcone. In 1983, a massive pulse of interstellar cosmic-rays struck Earth and trigged a genetic transformation among a number of the population, gifting them superpowers. Only, those that happen to obtain such superpowers were those genetically predisposed to be sociopaths. With supervillains, referred to as Miscreants, are an everyday occurrence and tearing up the cities in the present day, a scientist, Emily, and her old school friend, Lydia, reunite after not seeing each other for several years and when Lydia accidentally gets injected with a serum that gifts her superpowers, the two forge a superhero duo that battles the Miscreants in the city and stop the chaos continuing.
The first ten minutes show some initial promise for the film, with the brief exposition explaining how Miscreants came to be in this world and also show how a young Emily makes it her life mission to find a way to turn normal people into superheroes, as her geneticist parents were tragically killed during a Miscreant incident. After their passing, she moves in with her grandmother and also forms an unlikely friendship with Lydia, who defends her from bullies at school, and they remain close friends at school until the pair inevitably fall out as Emily doesn’t want to be distracted from her academic ambitions and mission. When we get to the present day with Emily and Lydia order, and somewhat wiser, that’s when the film’s screenplay pretty much resembles something you would’ve watched in the early 2000’s. So in that regard the film just feels pretty dated as it in how it tries to poke fun at superhero tropes, but when they were executed better in previous films (e.g. Deadpool), and for me they attempts of humour here range between bland and cringeworthy. Comedy is subjective of course, but the film follows that attempt of humour that doesn’t work for me, such as stretching it out (e.g. Kevin Dunn’s ‘stone in a river’ monologue, a knock knock joke and Lydia making reference to someone looking like Steve Urkel and having to repeat his catchphrase to try and garner at least a mild chuckle from somewhere) and there’s also a recurring joke involving raw chicken that, well, didn’t work for me.
It’s unfortunate to that it feels lacklustre, as overall it has a pretty game ensemble. The one thing that manages to arguably provide the most effective moments of humour is Jason Bateman as The Crab, and even then he doesn’t arrive until at least the forty-five minute mark, so there’s a lot of exposition, training montages and comedy improv to get to that point that some might even just switch off before the character appears. There’s a sub-plot involving The Crab and Lydia, with their initial first encounter leads to a dream-like dance number to Glenn Frey’s ‘You Belong To The City’ and while it is completely random and absurd, it at least provides something creatively different during the course of the film. After it’s initial introduction of their characters and friendship, I was looking forward to seeing the rapport between Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer, after all it was the sole reason I believed the film could be decent, but they feel like two distant strangers to me here and there wasn’t enough weight on them rekindling their friendship, that and pretty much the overall narrative of the Miscreants and the villain’s evil plan are very base level…what you see is what you get. The action sequences showcase that the film feels pretty low-budget, basic and somewhat uninteresting until we get to the finale showdown (which also happens to have a twist that raises more questions).
Comedy is subjective, but the humour here in Thunder Force just fell flat for me, which is a shame given the talented ensemble that it has.