It shouldn’t be embarrassing to love watching superhero movies. Sure, a lot of have come in the past years that might feel the same, but they’re there to get all kinds of excitement from fans without getting told their just loud noises. There also haven’t been a ton of original superhero movies in a while, but it looks like Ben Falcone is back in the director’s chair again (Ugh!) to what was supposed to surprise us with his latest, Thunder Force, Netflix’s latest that’ll be what to come to expect at this point in life.
What’s the Story: In a world terrorized by supervillains, one woman has developed the process to give superpowers to regular people. But when scientist Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer) accidentally imbues her estranged best-friend Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) with incredible abilities, the two women must become the first superhero team. Now, it is up to Thunder Force to battle the super-powered Miscreants and save Chicago from the clutches of The King (Bobby Cannavale).
We have here our fifth collaboration with Falcone and his wife McCarthy. To put it straight out there, I had little to no excitement of watching Thunder Force at the start of the weekend. Why? Because this is the fifth movie this director has done, and if you look through memory line with Tammy, The Boss, Life of the Party, and Superintelligence, all of them are misses more than hits, especially when the latter was on my worst list of last year. And everybody knows this by now. But the combination of putting together a comedy and a classic superhero movie together could show a ton of promise across the board if done right. Despite the talent and the concept involved, this is predictable enough to rightfully consider this another straight-up bad movie in the end.
McCarthy and Spencer are its main stars, which was enough to give it an open mind, and I didn’t know until recently they’ve been best friends for a long time. Their performances were simply fine, though as much as I can believe they’ve been real-life best friends before making this, I didn’t get into the friendship between the two of them working. These are two talented actresses who’ve been better in other projects, but you honestly wished they had better material to work from to make their characters the least bit interesting. We see how their characters, Lydia and Emily, met while they were in school in this prologue and Lydia defended Emily from bullies who hate that she’s smart. Even after they reconnect, the connection we’re meant to have to them as they train to become stronger for what felt like a long time was worthless. It’s not only them, I have to question why people like Bobby Cannavale, Pom Klementieff, or Oscar-winner Melissa Leo are doing in this when you can already tell their purpose in this since it’s obvious. Taylor Mosby as Emily’s intelligent 15-year-old daughter Tracy did a solid job with her role, despite not being the most fleshed out person in the movie.
But as someone who thought the superhero plot was going to level on the excitement, it never got there when it did not know about how to make it amazing or different from what it has done before. That’s the key problem to take from Falcone’s direction and writing; it appears mediocre and goes through a process that’s never remarkable with a real lack of energetic stakes. I can see where there’s a point to be made about how anybody can become a superhero and be the ones to take care of evil that’s surrounding their city or something, as we’re seeing two older women being the fresh faces in town. Nothing goes on beyond that when everything surrounding them is old and rather. A send-up of the genre is fine enough, but why wasn’t it though? I never found myself locked into the action whenever there needs to be an action scene with Thunder Force or the “Miscreants.” Not that I was expecting to be like the spectacular sequences the MCU brings to their movies, but this should’ve tried to be more creative. They could’ve played them to a song like Imagine Dragons’ “Thunder” and I still would’ve felt nothing (I like the song, I don’t care).
And as we’ve seen from before, this does a poor job at being funny. Some moments in the first act almost got me to crack a smile, but then it becomes lazy of having running gags that weren’t funny the first time or making pop culture references for the sake of making the scene longer. And when you’re not laughing at what’s supposed to make you laugh, everything after the second act will instantly not care what’s happening on screen. Why were there multiple scenes of McCarthy eating raw chicken with disgusting chewing sounds to add to it? Surprisingly enough, the one time I genuinely had a chuckle came from the always great Jason Bateman as the half man, half-crustacean villain, The Crab, whose performance wasn’t too bad. His character is a man who has crab claws instead of hands, and it’s in the trailer so you know what you’re getting. He gets to reunite with his 2013’s Identity Thief co-star McCarthy in a few scenes, yet it made the comedy they were in eight years ago look cinematic.
There wasn’t a point where I wanted to exit out of it and finish it the next day, but it made me want to watch Mystery Men instead since I didn’t know that was just added on Netflix and that’s such a better superhero movie worth having fun with all its late ’90s glory. Just thinking about what has come out, I wouldn’t call this the worst, but it ain’t the best, that’s for sure. We’re looking at zero for five in his filmography, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to get the point when I’m assured we’re probably getting another movie with them next year that won’t be enjoyable.
Final Thoughts: Thunder Force is part unfunny comedy, part lame superhero movie that continues to make Ben Falcone an unsuccessful director. Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer try their earnest to make this work, but, to no one’s surprise, it’s just a dull watch that never puts in the potential with its premise. My advice: Don’t waste your time cause you’ll have a better time watching something else rather than sitting through 105 minutes of this.