Friday, April 9, 2021

Movie with Abe: Thunder Force

Thunder Force
Directed by Ben Falcone
Released April 9, 2021 (Netflix)

The expression “With great power comes great responsibility” will forever be linked with its usage as an early warning to Spider-Man about the weight his uncanny abilities carried. It’s applicable to so many situations in which a person is granted authority or might of some kind and must then be held accountable for what they do with it and the others they must manage and interact with in the process. There isn’t typically a way for those who are inherently more good and worthy to be bestowed with talent – or in the case of science fiction, superpowers – and if anything, the universe is far more random and malicious in its selection. This action comedy looks at how things might shape up if it was in fact the wrong people who hit the power lottery and needed to be kept in check by some force for good.

As teenagers, Lydia and Emily were unlikely friends, but ultimately had a falling out after Lydia’s desire to constantly have a good time nearly cost Emily her academic future. Years later, on the eve of their class reunion, Lydia (Melissa McCarthy), who now works construction, reaches out to Emily (Octavia Spencer), who has become the head of a tech organization advancing research to combat the Miscreants, superpowered sociopaths who regularly terrorize Chicago. Through a series of mishaps, Lydia becomes one of the first participants in Emily’s experiment designed to give good people powers of their own so that they can fight to protect Chicago from those who seek to destroy it.

It’s a busy time for comic book content, and while this film, from an original script by director Ben Falcone, isn’t based on any preexisting source material, it feels like it very much could be. The notion that those with an inclination towards problematic personality disorders are more likely to have powers presents an obvious setup for heroes to come to the rescue, and in the case of this certainly comedic film, Lydia doesn’t fit that bill at all. This kind of content blends well with humor, and therefore much of it works, though it’s not clear what audience this film is intended for, since a good chunk of its plotting feels cartoonish and designed for a much younger viewership than this film’s PG-13 rating would suggest.

McCarthy, who did receive an Oscar nomination recently for a more toned-down performance in “Can You Ever Forgive Me,” isn’t typically known for her subtlety, and very little of that is on display here. Instead, it’s a loud turn that’s impossible to ignore, but that’s also part of the appeal, since McCarthy is gifted with extraordinary comic timing and eagerly approaches every slapstick moment with all the energy she can muster. Spencer, who has many times provided humor in her supporting performances in dramatic films, is her more serious foil, and the two make a competent duo. The ensemble includes Melissa Leo, Bobby Cannavale, Pom Klementieff, Taylor Mosby, Falcone, and Jason Bateman having fun, and that’s the general spirit of this film. It’s hardly covering new ground or excelling at it, but it’s a decent enough and an amusing ride.


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