The word “miscreants” is pronounced “almost a dozen times” within the first fifteen minutes.Thunder power, ” NetflixNew superhero comedy with Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer. It is an absurd word to say repeatedly, and an even more absurd way for the writer and director Ben Falcone to drive home to the point that his superhero world is only filled with overpowering “bad guys” (yes, known as miscreants) and they are terrible. Oh, if there was only one super bright scientist who could one day find a way to empower good people and fend off these meddling villains! If that kind of subtlety speaks to you, oh boy, it does Netflix Have a “comedy” for you. And while McCarthy and scriptwriter and director Falcone’s husband weren’t exactly a team of comedy hit-makers – their already mediocre track record is one of the falling returns – “Thunder Force” could be an all-time low for the super-powered duo.
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Yes, the team that brought you unforgettable tripe “Tammy” “The boss,” “Life of the Party,” and “Super intelligence” is back to give you their take on the modern day superhero movie and – surprise, surprise – it’s more uncomfortable, more mundane. “Thunder Force” takes place in a world in which cosmic radiation turns sociopaths into super-sociopaths and the world remains helpless to defend itself against a planet full of crazy, criminal perpetrators. That is, until childhood best friends Lydia and Emily (played by Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer respectively) find a way to use superpowers to defend all benefactors from a mafia-esque group of villains led by The King are cited. played by Bobby Cannavale.
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The problem here isn’t that we’ve had enough superhero movies or that Melissa McCarthy isn’t funny. The fact is that while Falcone is a gifted comedic performer himself, he is not a particularly effective comedy writer or director. His style is to just let McCarthy take over the camera and pray that she would lift the script above its mediocre lines. It barely works for a scene or two, but ultimately the plot and writing is still lazy and lifeless, even from talented actors like Spencer, Cannavale and Melissa Leo – and if you can’t get a decent performance with actors of that caliber, that’s simply up to the director.
However, there is one brightly glowing performance in this film that manages to get a giggle and get some scenes working, and that’s from Jason Batemanplaying villain / love interest, The Crab. It’s called The Crab because it has crab arms. Yes, it is certainly a choice. Regardless, in true Bateman form, everything he says and does feels weirdly natural, and he’s willing to fully embrace the ridiculous and downright silly nature of his crustacean-clawed character, rather than just the strained, ridiculous love story but also save almost every scene he’s in.
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Outside of this performance, nothing really clicks or surprises. You know what’s coming as soon as you see the tense child actor performances try to portray the plot and relationship dynamics between Spencer and McCarthy – one plays a genius, the other a sloppy, shameless woman (it goes without saying, who it is) WHO). You’re drifting apart, you invent a treatment and plan to become a superhero, you crash those plans, they both get overpowered, bad guys step in, Netflix spends money making it look neat, and yadda, yadda, yadda – you have a color-by-numbers superhero comedy with minimal laughter or heart because the friendship strokes you should focus on are lazy or tossed aside for McCarthy to keep eating raw chicken or getting stabbed by needles.
Bad characters? Check! Worn out, not inventive act? Check! Forced physical comedy? Check! Big budget and no oversight? Check! Put it all together and what do you get? Another bad Netflix comedy from the makers of other bad comedies. Sorry, McCarthy and Spencer, but you’re better than that. [D]
“Thunder Force” is now available on Netflix.