What’s the first rule of a comedy? Be funny. What’s the first rule of a superhero story? Be exciting. Yet somehow, Thunder Force fails at being both. Starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer with the supporting cast-around out by well-known faces such as Bobby Cannavale, Pom Klementieff, Kevin Dunn, Melissa Leo, and Jason Bateman, Thunder Force is another collaboration between McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone who once again is in the director’s chair. McCarthy and Spencer played two childhood friends who invent a way to become superheroes to combat criminals who are born superpowered.
If anything is a personal annoyance of mine, it’s watching talented actors working with material that is so clearly not up to their level. Without a doubt, the only film that remains in the semi-watchable realm is trying to make the script work. It just that this cast is stuck in a film that feels half-baked. And it such a shame because a pairing such as Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer should make for some fun banter, but they are given nothing fun or interesting to work with. Melissa Leo’s snarky demeanor was the only thing that managed to get a chuckle out of me, but her moments are few and far between.
It’s a comedy film made by the same pairing that bought us other films such as Tammy or The Boss. So right away, we can expect things such as wit, timing, and any sort of originality to be thrown into the garbage bin. Thunder Force is just Tammy with a superhero paint job. It does exactly what you expect it to do. Melissa McCarthy plays Melissa McCarthy and gets herself in many wild, crazy scenarios while getting other more grounded people involved into the mix.
To describe what it feels like watching Thunder Force, imagine two people having a conversation about something they think is funny. Thinking that whole conversation would be fun for everyone else to witness and make a movie out of that one joke. Except they didn’t consider any point that nobody else would find it amusing to sit through for over 90 minutes in their one-in-a-lifetime existence.
And when the plot just feels as mundane and bland as the comedy on display here, it doesn’t do the film any favors. Despite the premise suggesting that the city is at risk of being burned to the ground by many evil criminals, the stakes feel relatively low. Mainly because, as a superhero story, there really isn’t any sort of tension. The cookie-cutter villains do villain stuff just because, and at no point did I actually believe the heroes were in any real peril.
Unless you have nothing, and I mean nothing to do for nearly two hours, maybe Thunder Force can function as background noise. But for a film with this talented roster, you can do much better elsewhere.