Review: Thunder Force (2021)

A comedy superhero movie from the minds that brought you Life of the Party and The Boss.

PLOT AND STORY 

In a world where supervillains are commonplace, two estranged childhood best friends Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) and Emily (Octavia Spencer) 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 (Taylor Mosby), the two are ready to do battle with the evil “Miscreants” including “The Crab” (Jason Bateman), “Laser” (Pom Klementieff), and their leader “The King” (Bobby Cannavale). Newly super, almost heroes.

Writer and director Ben Falcone once again teams up with his real life wife Melissa McCarthy. Thunder Force becomes the fourth movie the pair have collaborated on with Ben Falcone attached as writer/director and delivers the same level of fun we have come to expect from previous titles The Boss and Life of the Party. Unfortunately as fun as this movie can be it’s not the laugh a minute you might expect from a movie with Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer

I honestly feel they really tried to make this a funny movie and there are a few times I actually did laugh out loud but there are too many times when the jokes simply don’t land. McCarthy feels to me like she has become the Adam Sandler of the last 10 years. You go into a movie knowing what you’re going to get so you set your expectations at a certain level but after time the same type of jokes and the same type of physical humour just doesn’t have the same impact it did 3 or 4 movies ago.

The overall story is quite simple exploring good versus evil told through a struggling friendship over time. There is a nice little twist in the way super heroes and super villains exist which gives this a slightly different identity to other non branded super power movies. My biggest concern with the structure of this movie is its lack of defined identity. It tries to be a superhero movie, it tries to be a comedy, it tries to be a coming of age movie and at times tries to be serious but never does it make it clear what it actually wants to be. I found this mixed message confused me at times and the result being I couldn’t take some serious moments seriously and I didn’t see the humour in others. 

DIRECTION AND PRODUCTION 

One thing people need to know is that even though Netflix marketed this as a superhero movie don’t go into it expecting The Avengers. There are some powers on display but other than one character’s ability to shoot electricity the effects are limited to mostly people being thrown through walls. The fight scenes are not very good and when characters are airborne it’s incredibly obvious they are on a wire but I can’t tell if this was a deliberate aesthetic for the movie or if it was just bad. I will leave that for people to make up their own mind.

The best thing about the production of this movie was its heavy rock soundtrack. McCarthy’s character is a big fan of rock music so we are treated to the likes of AC/DC, Corey Taylor and Whitesnake. However, the movie missed a huge opportunity with Van Halen. Early in the movie there is a moment when something comes between Lydia and Emily regarding a Van Halen concert so I was waiting for the climatic scene with the two of them saving the day and Van Halen playing over the top but it never came and I can’t understand why. Music plays quite an integral part of the relationship between Lydia and Emily and there were 2 or 3 occasions a Van Halen song would have been perfect in the final third to draw the audience back to the troubled times in their youth but it just never happened.

CAST

Melissa McCarthy plays Lydia who is a simple, jump in head first, wears her heart on her sleeve type character who is very much like most of McCarthy’s previous roles. I like Melissa McCarthy, I always find her funny and feel she gives 100% to her character and If you have seen Identity Thief or Spy then you know what type of performance you are getting. 

Octavia Spencer plays Emily, the super smart billionaire who has lived a driven and determined life to achieve her goal. I wasn’t sold on Spencer’s performance because she seemed to be very wooden and offered little emotional connection. When played alongside McCarthy’s character I didn’t ever see the chemistry life long friends should have.

For me the MVP of the movie was Taylor Mosby who plays Emily’s daughter Tracy. She brings a youthful energy to the movie and shares the best on screen chemistry with Melissa McCarthy. 

On the other side of the movie there are three main villains. The first being The King played by Bobby Cannavale who with his tall physique made quite an intimidating character. His right hand man was The Crab played by Jason Bateman who gives the same type of humorous performance he always does with a dry, calm wit. Then there is The King’s right hand woman, Laser played by Pom Klementieff who as a psychotic serial killer was quite funny.

FINAL THOUGHTS 

I found Thunder Force to be what it is supposed to be, a silly, funny movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. This isn’t a great movie and certainly won’t win over many critics but due to its banging soundtrack and my soft spot for Melissa McCarthy movies I would give this a generous 6/10 but understand this movie won’t be for everyone.

I watched this via Netflix and received no incentive to review this movie. All images are courtesy of Netflix and their respective owners.

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