Thursday, April 15, 2021

Thunder Force Review – IGN

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Someone, please stop Ben Falcone. Husband and creative partner Melissa McCarthy co-wrote and / or directed mediocre escape vehicles for bridesmaids like The Boss, Tammy, Life of the Party, and Superintelligence. Now, he’s wasting his chance for superhero glory in the calamitous comedy Thunder Force.Written and directed by Falcone, Thunder Force stars McCarthy as Lydia Berman, a Chicago blue-collar worker who unexpectedly acquires superpowers. So she teams up with her childhood best friend Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer), a brilliant geneticist who has her own super serum. Together, they fight to protect the city from the winds against the “disbelievers,” mutant supervillains who boast of outrageous strength, explosive plasma fins, and – er – the arms of a giant crab!

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Despite some bizarre variances, this superhero story is cobbled together from stolen parts. Emily’s story tears apart Batman’s orphan origin and then adds a touch of Tony Stark’s expertise in science and business staging. Meanwhile, clumsy but lovable Lydia comes up against her Peter Parker-style powers, with precarious access to a high-tech lab. Their acquisition of invisibility and super strength, respectively, could be a nod to the Incredibles. Then, they must face enemies while learning to work as a team, despite very different personalities! (See The Avengers, The Justice League, The LEGO Batman Movie.) Thunder Force strikes a lot of superhero shots, from discovering powers to revealing the super costume, flashy tech, villainous destruction and a Big Bad lurking. Sadly, these presumably important moments don’t have the expected fanfare of the genre. Instead, all of the above is treated as a checklist that Falcone is going through. There are no awesome close-ups of the Thunder Force costumes or their custom purple Lamborghini. No tension is built into the lead-up to their nemesis being revealed. Determining their superhero names is not a resounding epiphany but rather buried in a tumble of wacky pitches. Likewise, the icy performance of Pom Klementieff (Guardians of the Galaxy) as the surly Miscreant never gets a chance to wow us.

Even the action sequences are treated like a chore. They rush in with CG blasts and uninspired stunts, cut with all the care of a blindfolded kid making confetti. It seems Falcone has no interest whatsoever in superhero movies and lazily uses their iconography as a shaky setting for some bland buddy comedy.The heart of this story is about the strange couple of Lydia and Emily. The first is a frizzy-haired goofball with a heart of gold, who loves a party as much as a good fight. The latter is an intelligent and always button-up perfectionist, whose solemn ambition trumps every part of her life. Of course, they will learn to look a bit alike to become a great team and better people. But as with the superhero tale, it’s painfully predictable and insufficient. The points of the intrigue of meeting, bonding and breaking up are covered in a tedious first act which takes place in their common childhood. (However, props are deserved for child actresses Bria Danielle and McCarthy’s daughter Vivian Falcone, who convincingly capture Spencer’s grace and McCarthy’s loose-limbed clown.) Their reunion is brief and awkward, doing little for establish comedic chemistry before embarking on the inciting incident. that throws the superhero stuff.

The schtick buddy-comedy and the superhero show are artfully shattered together to allow for both grounded and conceptual silliness. But most jokes just stink. There are childish insults. (“Go in the trash because that’s where the trash goes!”) There are puns that don’t play. (“They were both Doctors of Female Pieces?” “No. Geneticists.”) Then there are boring tracks that spin around over and over with awkward punchlines, mediocre impressions, confusing hints out of nothing. hand and toothless slapstick. It doesn’t feel as much written down as it is spat, as if Falcone had urged his cast to throw away whatever crossed their minds. But instead of only including what was stuck, he just left a lot of sweet, sloppy lobs.

The only thing that works in this terribly wacky comedy is a subplot between Lydia and a half-man / half-crab, played by McCarthy Identity Thief co-star Jason Bateman. These two have a chaotic chemistry that elicits a sense of spontaneity. Here, the film plays around with the superhero concept by usurping the hero / villain romance line with a very unsexy mutation treated like he’s a supreme pervert. Things get weird with Butter, Old Bay, and a glittery dance number. Throwing themselves into it all with abandon, McCarthy and Bateman are downright hilarious. In these moments of madness, Thunder Force shows promise by digging into places with mystery men parody and weirdness precision. Sadly, these wacky pieces of glory are rare.

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