Friday Film Review--"Thunder Force"
The Blockbuster Superhero Movie deserves a good spoof. But Mark Harrington, with this week’s Friday Film Review, says—you’ll have to keep waiting.
This week’s film is “Thunder Force”, starring Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, and Jason Bateman in yet another new riff on the superhero genre. McCarthy plays Lydia, a Chicago rough neck who befriends the super smart [but not nerdy] Emily, played by Octavia Spencer. Lydia and Emily are childhood friends who band together to survive the torments of bullying faced by school age kids. But bullying isn’t their only peril. After a mysterious beam hits Earth, a small number of people start to develop superpowers. However, only evil people get the powers and the supervillain psychopaths become known as Miscreants who quickly wreak havoc on humanity. One such event results in the death of Emily’s parents and Emily dedicates her scientific mind to defeating the Miscreants. When Emily realizes that Lydia is inhibiting her school performance and risking her goal, Emily breaks off with her underachieving friend to concentrate on making superheroes out of good people to fight the Miscreants. Fast forward twenty years and down and nearly out Lydia hopes to use a class reunion to reconcile with Emily. When Emily doesn’t show, Lydia crashes Emily’s lab and mistakenly injects herself with Emily’s brand new superhero serum. Problem is only one person can get it. There is a second serum but it is limited to invisibility. Furious, Emily takes the invisibility dose and the two set out reluctantly to fight the Miscreants together.
“Thunder Force” is written and directed by McCarthy’s husband Ben Falcone and well, let’s just say maybe they should do something more fun as a couple, like crash funerals. Seriously, the only way I could find any entertainment value in this movie was to think of a smart but not nerdy drinking game- every time a joke falls flat and simultaneously involves a scene with a synonym of falling flat- take a shot. Think bombs, collapses, craters, fails, flames out, flops, flunks, misses, strikes out, tanks, washes out, crashes, crumbles or implodes. To paraphrase “Jaws”, you’re going to need a bigger bottle.
So, on my ski trail rating system, “Thunder Force” earns my worst bunny-hill ski trail rating. Watching McCarthy try to stay funny with no support from the script or the rest of the cast is more painful than the face injections we’re forced to watch repeatedly. Octavia Spencer’s role is so confined to the boring personality of a lab rat; it’s like watching a lawyer in a law show just do real law stuff.
“Thunder Force” is rated PG-13 for action/violence, language, repeated cheek trauma and sexually suggestive crab claws. “Thunder Force” is streaming on Netflix.
This is Mark Harrington for KPCW’s Friday Film Review