"...completely devoid of either exciting fight scenes or genuine laughs"

Entertaining As A Wet Fart

(052121) Melissa McCarthy has fought a brave, uphill battle to gain respect as a serious film actress. She was fine in the show Mike and Molly, a decent above average sitcom, that failed to showcase the full range of her talents. She had her share of setbacks and early cinematic missteps such as The Boss and Identity Thief. Film critic, Rex Reed deserved the considerable blowback he received when he famously called her “tractor sized,” and when he implied, she was only popular because of her weight in a review, and she claimed the execs from the network airing Mike and Molly, cancelled her show prematurely because they thought she was less funny after she became thinner. Apparently, look-ism is not a thing of the past.

The feminist remake of Ghost Busters was only fair, but it got critical acclaim in some quarters. McCarthy was far better in the crowd-pleasing comedy, Bridesmaids. Also, her comedic performance in the Indy film, St Vincent was terrific (as was the film), and her acting was a match for the much more seasoned Bill Murray’s performance. Finally, her turn as a forger in the Oscar nominated biopic, Can You Ever Forgive Me? was extraordinary, and was perhaps the most potent, bravest performance of that year (she got robbed at the Oscars). Also, she recently did some top-notch political impersonations as a special guest on Saturday Night Live. She obviously has talent to spare, but she needs the right projects.

Clearly, her overall career has been a combination of peaks and valleys. The superhero film Thunder Force on Netflix is surely one of her lowest valleys, and it may end up ruining some of the goodwill in film goers that she has built up over the years. It is such an unmitigated disaster that if this were the first film, I ever saw her in, I would never want to see another film starring her. It is not just the witless script by her husband itself that is awful, she is terrible in it. This would not even make a decent rental or free viewing. It is not just bad; it is Death of Smoochy or the Johnny Depp version Lone Ranger level bad.

The rest of the cast seemed to have been picked solely for their lack of chemistry together. The actors include Oscar nominee, Octavia Spencer (of Shape of Water, The Help, and Hidden Figures), Pom Klementief (Mantis in
Guardians of the Galaxy) playing a completely one-dimensional villain, and Justin (Arrested Development and Ozark) Bateman in one his least impressive performances as a wanna be super-villain/potential love interest for the lead.

The film was ineptly directed by Ben Falcone, McCarthy’s real-life husband. Based on his work writing and directing this film and the horrific Tammy, he might want to consider a career as a door man or street sweeper. A below average film student would probably have done a better job. He or she might at least stumble upon or shoot an interesting scene.

Thunder Force is an attempt at a superhero spoof/female buddy film that is completely devoid of either exciting fight scenes or genuine laughs. Viewers may want to even see the characters that were supposed to be likeable die during the film.

Lydia and Emily are two lifelong, mismatched friends that are in many ways opposites. Emily is a bookish and ambitious person who ends up working in a giant corporate science lab (she is a CEO/geneticist) while Lydia is a laid back, beer guzzling, heavy metal loving everywoman with no ambition who works as a forklift driver.

The film gives us a flashback that demonstrates how the friends had a blowout and separated for decades. Lydia and Emily were roommates, and Emily is late for an important appointment because Lydia fails to wake her up in time. This shows the upwardly mobile, Emily that Lydia might be an impediment to her reaching her goals.

The film’s villains are a group of mutated people that develop powers from exposure to cosmic rays called miscreants which obviously are a parody of mutants in the X-Men (but the heroes are more like the Fantastic Four). But nothing clever is done with the idea. It is if the writer decided it was enough to use a dumb, similar sounding name to generate laughs (it is not). Emily inherited a plan to fight the dastardly miscreants which involves scientific experimentation.

One day Lydia shows up at Emily’s huge corporation to invite her to a reunion event. Although she is told not the touch anything, she backs into a needle that ends up giving her super strength. The injection was meant to empower Emily, who wanted to take the injection herself so she could directly do something about Chicago’s miscreant problem (her parents were killed by miscreants), But unless Lydia undergoes more treatments (which cost a fortune) her body will react negatively, so Emily so Emily reluctantly completes the experiment with Lydia as a test subject.

Lydia decides to use her newfound powers to fight crime, and she is joined by Emily (who gains the power to become invisible) and Emily’s daughter (who gains the power of super speed.) The powers are not only completely generic, but they are depicted in an unimaginative way throughout the whole film (as opposed to the Marvel U films or DC/CW Shows.) It is if a group of people who knew that superhero films were popular decided to make one without having any idea of what make the good ones work.

Lydia meets a sympathetic criminal called the crab who has claws instead of hands (which probably makes it hard for him to open wine bottles) who turns out not to be all bad. The two have dinner and some romantic sparks are supposed to occur, but I was unmoved and unconvinced, and it is unlikely anyone would think they truly have feelings for each other.

But the worst villain behind the scenes is a corrupt Chicago mayoral candidate (imagine that a crooked Chicago official) played by Bobby Cannavale who is secretly in league with the dastardly miscreants. Canavale ends up getting his own superpowers, and he has a tedious, moronic battle with Lydia which never seems to end (it is even more witless and uninteresting than the one at the end of Tim Burton’s
Dark Shadows film.)

I do not usually give films half a star, but except for the sometimes well used Chicago (allegedly of 1983) setting, this is a mind numbingly inept film with virtually no redeeming qualities. I have experienced car crashes, root canals, tax audits, and funerals that offered more entertainment value. Go out and watch the grass grow or observe fresh paint dry instead. These activities will kill less brain cells.

God, I miss the Zucker brothers and Mel Brooks.

Directed & Written by:     Ben Falcone
Starring:    Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Pom
Released:    4/9/2021
Length:    107 minutes
Rating:    PG for some action/violence, language, and mild,
 suggestive material
Available on:    Netflix

For more writings by Vittorio Carli go to and His latest book "Tape Worm Salad with Olive Oil for Extra Flavor" is also available.

THUNDERFORCE © 2021 Netflix
Review © 2021 Alternate Reality, Inc.

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