Star Rating:

Thunder Force

Director: Ben Falcone

Actors: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer

Release Date: Friday 9th April 2021

Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Comedy

Running time: 105 minutes

It's all fine, but there's a lot of missed opportunities...

In a world where super-powered criminals have become commonplace, two estranged childhood best friends (Octavia Spencer and Melissa McCarthy) reunite after one devises a treatment that gives them powers to protect their city.

You can almost see how the pitch meeting went for 'Thunder Force' as you watch it. "Let's get Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer - two middle-aged women who would typically never be involved in a superhero movie unless they were playing someone's mother - and put them front and centre as the superheroes themselves. It'll be funny!"

The surprising part about 'Thunder Force' is that at times, it actually is quite funny, despite the best efforts not to be. Not in a so-cringe-it's-funny way, but being actually funny. Melissa McCarthy has many years of experience playing with physical comedy, so loading that experience into a superhero movie gives her an edge here. Octavia Spencer, meanwhile, is able to play the put-upon, wise foil to her with ease. The real stars of the show, however, are undoubtedly the villains.

In this instance, you've got Jason Bateman clearly relishing the chance to flex his comedy muscles after leaving them dormant for so long with 'Ozark', and you've got Pom Klementieff, who you'll recognise from 'Guardians of the Galaxy'. While Klementieff stumbles her way through hackneyed villain dialogue and makes it sound adorable, Jason Bateman is able to adapt to any situation. His superpower - having crab claws for arms - sounds ridiculous, is ridiculous, and is played with the kind of sincerity that Jason Bateman is able to do with ease, allowing for some even further ridiculous flourishes like a dance sequence set to Glenn Frey's 1985 power ballad, 'You Belong To The City'.

The problem with 'Thunder Force' is that it's so clearly just using the framework of a comic-book movie but rather than attempting to make fun of that as well, it's using it earnestly. Again, it's all fine, but there's a lot of missed opportunities. Even if the film seized upon that chance, would it still be as funny in parts? Perhaps. Either way, 'Thunder Force' is probably one of Melissa McCarthy's funniest movies in quite some time, even if it is by the numbers. While by no means an astounding piece of comedy, 'Thunder Force' is good fun if you find yourself in the mood for something easy to watch that doesn't tax your brain in any kind of meaningful way.