When she broke on the scene in 2011's "Bridesmaids," Melissa McCarthy was a force of nature. Since then, her filmography has been a mixed bag of both hits and massive misses. What's surprising is that her worst films are the ones she does with her director husband, Ben Falcone. Having made a total of five movies with her significant other, the response by both the public and the media has been less than positive. Her latest film, "Thunder Force," is yet another slog in a not-so-hot track record. In a world where supervillains are the norm, two old friends (Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer) reunite years after a falling out. This leads to McCarthy's character Lydia injecting herself with a serum that gives her superpowers.
If your first thought is, "this sounds like something from a bad 90s movie," then you're not wrong. Once again, we're given a film that seems fun to make but nowhere as much fun to watch. The problem here really stems from Director Ben Falcone relying too much on his cast. With talents such as Melissa Leo, Jason Bateman, Bobby Cannavale, and Pom Klemintieff, you have a group of generally funny people. There's no denying that a lot of improvisation occurred, but when that's your only trick, it's just not enough. Everyone involved feels like they're trying way too hard for laughs that never quite land.
Now combine that with an absolute lack of understanding about superhero movies, and you have "Thunder Force." In an age of film where the superhero genre reigns supreme, a comedic take should be satirical and funny. Whereas the finished product feels like interesting ideas that don't translate in the way they should. From the obligatory training montages to brutal fight sequences, there isn't an ounce of authenticity. Everything feels empty, and the settings feel like nothing more than soundstages. Thankfully, that feeling is reduced once Jason Bateman arrives on screen.
In this world, the only beings that were bestowed actual superpowers were villains. Bateman's "miscreant" was given crab arms, which gave him the ample name "The Crab." With this character, Falcone, as a filmmaker, can get into the weirdness of this world. How he does this is something I don't want to spoil, but let's say it involves a musical number. The song choice is definitely on the nose, but Bateman and McCarthy commit to the bit hilariously and oddly. It's a risky joke they go for, but one that landed in a way that caught me off guard compared to everything else I'd seen. Bateman can still provide some ample laughs after that point, but nowhere near as many as fans know he can.
Netflix is undoubtedly one of the biggest powerhouses in the film production empire. Over the years, they've had their names in the Oscar races but also in the Adam Sandler slapstick comedies. "Thunder Force" resides in this strange grey area where the finished product is just too dull for its own good. Even with having all of the right ingredients, the collective whole is nothing more than unfunny jokes. It's a rather frustrating culmination when you have actors who audiences know are hysterical. They're just given the absolute bare minimum to work with. The result is nothing more than a bland mishmash of mediocre ideas that's more misses than hits. When your biggest "laugh" in a female lead comedy is Jason Bateman in crab claws, then your film has a problem.
Watch Trailer Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnx6-YLXFwg