Netflix’s ‘Thunder Force’ is unoriginal, underproduced, superficial


Courtesy of midwestfilmphoto

TRL’s Ryan Wang said that “Thunder Force” is a “mess with occasional explosions,” and that it is a “low-grade” Hollywood film.

Superhero movies aren’t anything we haven’t seen before. The genre itself has become oversaturated, over-commercialized, and oftentimes overtly oblivious to reality. While some films and shows can regale enough uniqueness and ingenuity to warrant a deserved following, such as the fan-favorites created by both Marvel and DC Comics, too often do misconstrued attempts at superficial characters grace the screen, while completely missing the mark. Netflix’s latest slapstick superhero film “Thunder Force,” had the ingredients of a worthy comedy, but the stereotypical plot, uncomfortable acting, and pathetic attempts to draw laughs ultimately results in an unkempt flop. 

When writer and director Ben Falcone, best known for his comedic projects “Bridesmaids” and “Spy,” admitted that “Thunder Force” was the fastest plot he’s ever written, the sheer blandness of the film makes sense. The plot itself is decent enough and still workable, despite being entirely unoriginal. Two childhood friends who’ve grown apart are reunited when forklift driver Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) storms into the lab of former best friend and top-tier geneticist Emily (Octavia Spencer), where she accidentally injects herself with some superhero serum, giving herself superstrength in the process. Having no choice, Emily then injects herself as well, giving her invisibility. The only logical thing apparently, is to fight crime as a duo, hence the name Thunder Force. Meanwhile, a mayoral election is occuring with the soon-to-be villain “The King” (Bobby Cannavale) on the rise. Nothing here stands out as special, characters’ roles seemed recycled, and the villains in the film are extremely shallow. 

For most comedy flops, the film would start off on a high note, but slowly lose steam as the story drags along. However, the best part of “Thunder Force,” could have arguably been the trailer. The film starts off on a low note with jokes and scenes that may garner an occasional smile, but is more likely to cause audiences to roll their eyes from the cheap, forced dialogue. Falcone tries to supplement comedic moments by foreshadowing the moronic events that may happen next, but does so to where everything is too predictable. Every character’s superpower is also pretty lame, from the generic superstrength, to the over-exhausted power of invisibility. And the one cornerstone of superhero movies, the action, is devoid in the entire first half of the movie. When fight sequences and actual combat montages do appear, it’s poorly executed and passed off as a comedic take. 

The only saving grace to the weak script and poor execution is the screen chemistry between McCarthy and Spencer, whose relationship seems to be the only thing worth developing in the movie. Their best moments come from spontaneous riffs that play off one another, and some of these small comedic instances do hit home and crack a laugh. Another high point was Crab Man (Jason Bateman), whose character seems the most believable within the film. Bateman nails the role with his dry sarcastic humor, and his performance could almost warrant a spin-off dramedy of just Crab Man’s difficulties in life. What’s unfortunate, however, is Bateman appearing in a select few scenes, while only being introduced halfway through the film.

While comedic movies aren’t meant to be taken all too seriously, “Thunder Force” is only watchable at best to the casual superhero fan. The plot is unbearably thin, and the production in terms of CGI, scene design, and dialogue, is unmistakably superficial. It’s clear that McCarthy and Spencer are having fun on set, and they do have their comedic moments, but when the entire thing comes together, it’s really just a mess with occasional explosions that passes as a low-grade Hollywood project. 

Rating: D+