McCarthy, Spencer Superhero Comedy Falls Flat

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An Oscar winner, several Oscar nominees and a pickle in Thunder Force.

An Oscar winner, several Oscar nominees and a pickle in Thunder Force.
photo: Netflix

Love or to hate Her brand of comedy, there’s no denying that Melissa McCarthy is one of the most energetic and fearless actresses working today. The same goes for Octavia Spencer, an Oscar winner winner who can just as easily and skillfully move from serial killer or one rocket scientist. Put them together in a superhero comedy – Netflix Thunder Force– and you’d expect these two amazing women to kick him out of the park.

Good, someone did. They don’t. But it is not necessarily their fault.

McCarthy and Spencer star in the Thunder Forcewritten and directed by Ben Falcone – which is now streaming on Netflix. He follows two longtime friends, Lydia (McCarthy) and Emily (Spencer) who couldn’t be more different. Lydia is a slacker who wears rock t-shirts. Emily is a smart overachiever who lost his parents to a group of people called Miscreants. You see, in this world, overpowered beings exist, but mutation only happens to bad people, and Emily dedicates her life to finding a way to give the right people superpowers to fight them.

His ambition in the face of Lydia’s laziness has created a rift in their friendship for several decades. Fast forward to the present and Lydia is a worker while Emily owns a multibillion dollar company. A series of events bring the friends together, and Lydia, mistakenly, gets injected with the serum that Emily has worked on all her life. The serum makes her super strong and after Emily takes the treatment and goes invisible, the two team up to become Thunder Force, the world’s first superhero team to fight the Miscreants.

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When you talk about the mythology and setup specifically, it sounds pretty promising. Emily and Lydia’s evolving relationship is familiar, yet heartfelt and relatable. The idea that super-beings are only bad is, again, familiar but intriguing. And having two middle-aged women as the first beings with the power to stop Miscreants isn’t just ripe for exploration and humor, it’s downright badass. Unfortunately, Thunder Force does almost nothing with it all. The film is essentially a flat line. The heartbeat of an idea that tries to bounce back to die and stay dead for most of its execution.

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The disbelievers.
photo: Netflix

Falcone’s staging is dry and uninteresting; aCtion scenes lack energy or flair, scenes take place in silence during what seems everlasting (mostly to highlight prolonged jokes), and when jokes don’t work, which they often don’t. , the scenes become more and more uncomfortable. (A word: Nell.) You feel like you’re watching live theater in complete silence where the actors have forgotten their lines and just start riffing. McCarthy attempts to fire all cylinders as she is known to do, but everything else in the movie, including Spencer, gives her nothing. She’s like a shiny object in a heap of mud. She’s there. She is bubbly. She tries to be special. But eventually, she is covered and disappears.

The movie takes almost half of its runtime to put together everything we’ve discussed above. Which makes sense – there’s a lot to cover – but during that period of time we only meet the characters who will end up becoming the main villains a handful of times, making their emergence in the second half almost redundant. The restil King (Bobby Cannavale), as well as Laser (Pom Klementieff) and the crab (Jason Bateman). All of them, obviously, are amazing actors with seemingly exciting and unique roles. ButThe King in particular has so few features and so little on-screen time to play with, he never feels like the believable threat he’s meant to be. Bateman’s Crab has a little more to do, but his story goes in an unexpected direction that seeks to balance some of the more serious aspects of the film and largely misses the mark. Only Klementieff’s Laser summons the type of fear villains are supposed to do, but after doing the same thing three or four times, that also wears off.

Even the few twists and turns along the way are 100% predictable before they’re revealed. (Case in point, tThe King being the main Miscreant is played as a revelation, but it’s so obvious and revealed with such recklessness that I didn’t even mark it as a spoiler. I won’t talk about the others but… you will guess them. Trust me.) So you’ve got lifeless direction, actors with little work, no sense of urgency or emotion in the story, and a few weird tangents that don’t add much. The centerpiece’s best tracks about Emily’s daughter Tracy (Taylor Mosby), whose strained relationship with her mother and a budding friendship with Lydia, lead to some lovely moments throughout. But they’re nowhere near enough to give the film the heart it desperately misses.

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Tracy (Taylor Mosby, center) is the best part of the movie.
photo: Netflix

Now you might be wondering, “Is this funny at least? And the answer is “sort of.” As I said before, the majority of Thunder ForceJokes fall flat. A few are really hilarious, but it must be very obvious to everyone what worked and what didn’t. This is because the best jokes, like the one about raw chicken, are repeated and rush to the ground. At every turn, it’s like Falcone is determined to ruin everything his movie has to offer, either by overdoing it, downplaying it, forgetting it, or treating it for more than it’s worth.

Everyone involved with Thunder Force deserved better. The idea is solid. The cast is amazing. But none of this comes together satisfactorily. In the end, I just felt bad for everyone involved that their talents were wasted on a dead fish from a movie.

Thunder Force is currently on Netflix. If you dare.


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