Thunder Force

⭐⭐⭐ based on 1 review.

tl;dr: A middle-of-the-road superhero comedy with a few rare moments of laughter and one genius man-crab 🦀


Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

On paper, Thunder Force looked great. Melissa McCarthy can be a bit hit'n'miss, but Octavia Spencer tends to produce gold (even in otherwise forgettable movies), Jason Bateman is generally excellent, and the core premise of a superhero team made up of do-gooder middle-aged women just sounds like an excellent comedy setup.

Unfortunately, that last point never really materialises. I enjoyed Thunder Force, I thought it did an okay job of playing with the superhero concept (and thankfully it never tried to outright parody the genre, which I think would have fallen flat), and aspects of the plot were decent. The central premise that the same gene that gives people superpowers also gods for sociopathy was a fun enough explanation for a world of supervillains, and I liked the relationship between McCarthy and the daughter, but otherwise, the story was just too paint-by-numbers. Big reveals either felt unearned (such as the daughter gaining super speed, which came out of left-field and directly contradicts a number of earlier scenes), just a bit silly (like the whole set up for why McCarthy gets powers in the first place), or too heavily telegraphed to have any impact (the King was clearly the central villain from the first moment he appears).

At the same time, most of the characters were just two-dimensional. Spencer is smart and oblivious to people; McCarthy is lazy and vulgar; King is a maniac. Only the daughter had any slight depth, and the film largely ignored it. (And no, I don't remember anyone's names, which says a lot). A dull plot and vague characters would be okay if the comedy was on point, but this is just as sporadic. Some moments are great, and it did have me laughing every now and then, but most of the jokes fall flat. Plus, I really wish there was less raw chicken; it was a surprisingly okay gag, but when that's the one really memorable piece of comedy, it doesn't bode well.

Of course, one running joke hit perfectly: Bateman's Crab villain 🦀😂 Everything from his opening line about not being a Cancer, to the seafood restaurant, to his ridiculous sideways scuttling out of the way, it all just worked. Sure, he's the closest element to parody, and some of that character background just wasn't necessary, but somehow the dude with crab claws for arms was easily the most interesting and memorable element of this film. Most of that is down to Bateman's performance, as no one else, not even Spencer, seemed to really know what to do with their characters, but either way, Crab-Man earns the film a half star by itself, pulling it just above average.

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