"Thunder Force" takes place in current-day Chicago, where the citizens struggle in the aftermath of a 1983 cosmic-ray blast, which turned sociopaths and criminals into lethal villains wielding deadly superhero-like powers. Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) and Emily (Octavia Spencer), best friends in grade school and then estranged for many years, team up to combat the Miscreants, using a genetic soup-formula developed by Emily over a painstaking years-long process, which can be injected into "regular" people, giving them superhero powers as well. Written and directed by Ben Falcone, "Thunder Force" is also a kind of genetic soup, a mish-mash of different genres: buddy comedies, buddy dramas, girl-power superhero movies. With such powerhouses as McCarthy and Spencer at the helm, it's a surprise that so much of the film is inert, rote, conventional.
Thunder Force has Jason Bateman in the supporting role of a small-time baddie whose superpower is that he has crab pincers for hands. It's a funny gag, and Bateman makes the most of it by not seeming to make much of it at all. His blasé attitude both grounds the film's reality and heightens his absurdity: Though his showiest moment comes in an '80s fantasy dance sequence, he wins the biggest laugh of the movie simply by crab-walking out of the frame.
Also pretty good are the costumes by Carol Ramsey, including the almost cartoonishly broad-shouldered suits on an oily politician known as The King (Bobby Cannavale), and the high-fashion-Hot-Topic looks served up by supervillain Laser (Pom Klementieff) with the runway-worthy entrances to match.
As ever, the comedy is mostly in the premise and the opening act when the heroine’s still-pristine loser status activates the irony and the laughs. From there on, the action needs a growing measure of seriousness, although there is some banter between the King, the Crab, and the cringing henchmen subordinates, and a nice role for Marcella Lowery as Emily’s mum, hoping that Emily and Lydia might be a couple. This is by-the-numbers stuff, not quite funny enough for comedy or having enough of the crazed seriousness that marks out a successful superhero franchise.
The friendship between the two should be the film’s emotional core but rushed early portions, meant to establish their dynamic, are plain serviceable and feature dialogue cribbed from teen dramas of the early aughts. Lydia’s lackadaisical attitude chafes at Emily and her more bookish pursuits, and the two-part ways. Years later, the two reunite in a sequence that culminates with Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) developing super strength in an ironically weak bit of plotting.
Final Score – [4.5/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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