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‘Thunder Force’ doesn’t bring the thunder

By Mason Kupiainen Melissa McCarthy’s career feels like it is going down the same path as Adam Sandler’s. She started with a few gems, including Bridesmaids and Spy. Then—for some reason—she started appearing in awful projects like The Happytime Murders, Ghostbusters, and The Kitchen. One aspect that has made many of her films bad has been her performances. Like Sandler, McCarthy has taken on the shtick of being the loud, obnoxious, annoying, and idiotic character. It worked in Spy, but that type of character hasn’t worked for her in any of her other comedies. McCarthy’s latest comedy brings her gimmick to the superhero genre in what might be labeled her worst performance and film yet. Thunder Force takes place in a world with superpowered individuals. When Emily (Octavia Spencer) creates a treatment that gives ordinary people superpowers, Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) accidentally gets injected and develops super strength. Lydia’s friend, Emily, starts the treatment as well, developing the power of invisibility, and the two must team up to stop a dangerous villain. Although the Thunder Force trailer wasn’t promising, having Spencer as one of the leads was promising since she generally picks great projects. However, Thunder Force turned out to be worse than it appeared. 

A comedy without humor

Image from Den of Geek
The main priority of any comedy should be to make the audience laugh. Unlikable characters, a horrible story, and cringy dialogue can be forgiven if the movie can make you laugh. McCarthy has proven herself to be a great comedic actress in Bridesmaids and Spy, but the comedy here goes for the low-brow, uncomfortable, and cringy humor. The humor switches from McCarthy’s usual screaming and obnoxious comedy style to drawing out what should have been a quick joke into a full scene of focusing on one joke. For example, there’s a scene where McCarthy makes a joke about Steve Urkel, which then gets drawn out into a scene where no one understands the joke and her imitating Urkel. The same thing is done a little bit later with a joke about Jodie Foster. The humor was more uncomfortable to watch than it was funny. Almost all the characters are unlikeable in the film. With the exception of Emily’s daughter, Tracy, who was the most level-headed of all the characters; everyone else is too annoying to like. McCarthy basically plays herself: the screaming and wailing, over-the-top unpleasant person. She has given some awful performances in films like Tammy and The Boss, but her character is too obnoxious and annoying to care about. The film even has two great actors, Spencer and Jason Bateman, and still isn’t able to have any likable characters. Spencer’s performance is poor, and her character lacks any substance. Although the film takes place in a world with superheroes, Bateman’s character felt odd within the film as his character has crab claws for arms. It didn’t add any humor to the film and didn’t fit within the world they set up. 

Spotty action

Image from Chicago Tribune
The action in the movie is a mixed bag. Some action sequences were terrible, while other scenes were well-handled and entertaining. The final fight of the film is thrilling for the most part and has some great moments. It takes place within an office building, and they’re able to integrate their surroundings into the fight. Some of the other action scenes try to add awful humor into them by making jokes throughout the fights. During these sequences, the humor throws the scene off and makes what could have been thrilling action into a mess of a scene.  A great element of many superhero films is the villain. Characters like the Joker, Thanos, Mr. Glass, and Loki have helped improve their films. The villain in Thunder Force, The King, doesn’t have any of the elements that made villains like those great. He was your typical, run-of-the-mill villain who doesn’t have any depth and comes off as simply an evil villain who must be stopped.  From a filmmaking aspect, this movie doesn’t provide anything worthwhile. There weren’t any creative shots or scenes that were well handled. It all felt fundamental and cookie-cutter. Nothing ever felt intentional or the director trying to make a creative decision but rather felt like an average person trying to make a movie. Having some creative work behind the camera could have made some scenes more interesting; instead, you’re left with every scene feeling lifeless.
Sources: YouTube Images: Den of Geek, Chicago Tribune Featured Image: TV Insider