Director(s): Ben Falcone
Writer(s): Ben Falcone
Cast: Octavia Spencer, Melissa McCarthy, Jason Bateman
Synopsis: In a world where supervillains are commonplace, two estranged childhood best friends reunite after one devises a treatment that gives them powers to protect their city.
Let me start this off by reminding everyone that Octavia Spencer is an Oscar winner with two more nominations, and Melissa McCarthy is a two time Oscar nominated actress. I needed to get this out there, because people who watch this film might forget that these two actresses are really talented. This film does nothing to showcase this talent, and honestly even worse, undermines anything positive about the genre or these performers.
Octavia Spencer honestly never once seemed like she was a fan of being in this film. Even when she starred in 2019’s Ma, there was still some sort of enjoyment in playing an absolutely weird and deranged individual. The movie became a meme and found a cult following, primarily because of her outlandish performance alone. However, in this film she doesn’t seem to be having any sort of fun. She looks bored and she looks lost in this world, and you can tell from the moment she appears on screen. Part of that is her character, but even when her character tries to grow, Spencer just seems so out of everything. In Melissa McCarthy’s case, I don’t know why she continues to do these movies for her husband. I don’t know if he has something over her or what, but she could be one of the best actors in Hollywood if she wanted to be. But again, she is stuck in this trope, that doesn’t fit her at all, and even worse it is her husband that continues to typecast her in these roles. McCarthy has branched out and shown her range, but these kinds of films really pull her back into unwatchable territory, that she doesn’t need to be in.
However, I can’t put all of the blame on the poor performances, because what they had to work with was seemingly nothing. We are so far past the age of “run of the mill” superhero stories, to the point where even the kings and queens of superhero films at Marvel have had to alter their trajectory. This is as basic and bare bones as a script could be. There is hardly any funny gags, there is no real sense of heart that lasts, there is no underlying message, and even the emotional beats feel so lazy. If there is going to be a superhero film, it needs to be different. It has to be weird, exciting, strange, funny, satirical, dark, or just something that isn’t as lazy as this was. Falcone as a writer/director just doesn’t get really anything right. I understand making a film isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and it is a miracle that movies even get made, but this is one that definitely shouldn’t have been made.
But, the biggest reason that a film like this bothers me so much is because of who is in it. I understand that doing something like this might be a little more lighthearted and fun, even though they really seemed like they weren’t having fun, but there’s a difference between fun and bad. You don’t have to do a bad movie to have fun making a film. So then, when we get high caliber, and award winning, actors and actresses it just begins to bother me that this is what was chosen. Octavia has one an Oscar, and given us meaningful performances in films like Shape of Water. McCarthy has been nominated for playing a truly grounded and heartbreaking role in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and for having fun in Bridesmaids. Jason Bateman is a different story, as he takes really serious TV roles, but then goes an opposite direction when it comes to film. I say all this to just voice my frustration when something like this is released. These actors have so much to give, so many stories to tell, such great performances to share with the world, and they are stuck eating raw chicken and fighting a man with crab arms.
Maybe this is what people like, and maybe I am just being too high brow for something like this. But, there really comes a moment when people you love to watch on screen look and act like they are wasting their time and the audiences time, and as a viewer it is just frustrating to watch so much potential go to waste. If this is what they like to do, and what they want to do, more power to them. I just think there is so much more that these people can give than what we ended up with here, which hardly even feels like a movie.
Final: Thunder Force brings together some premier talents to give us a frustrating and hard to watch film. To put it bluntly, it’s not good, and a waste of time.
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.