In Defense of “Thunder Force”

On April 9, Netflix released “Thunder Force,” an original movie starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer. The film, written and directed by McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone, has been the subject of harsh reviews. I’ve noticed in recent years that reviews for comedy films have been overwhelmingly negative and I think this is because critics expect the same level of production seen in more serious films. As a true fan of McCarthy and all of her films, I’m going to give my honest, unbiased review of “Thunder Force.” 

The film follows two childhood friends, Lydia Berman and Emily Stanton (McCarthy and Spencer), who gain superpowers in order to stop genetically mutant criminals that wreak havoc on their city. For a superhero movie, it’s a pretty weak plot, but the chemistry between the characters certainly makes up for it. Spencer’s no-nonsense character beside McCarthy’s lovable goofball energy is an unexpected comedic team. 

A recurrent critique from most viewers is that it lacks what makes superhero movies special, like special effects or cutting edge cinematography. While I wasn’t expecting a Marvel masterpiece, it certainly was lacking in these areas. However, this does not mean that the movie cannot be enjoyed for what it is.

The film’s humor has also faced some criticism. I’ll admit that some jokes were drawn out and there were times where it seemed the writers put in a joke knowing it wouldn’t land, but you could say that for almost any comedy film — especially a McCarthy comedy. In most of her films, she relies on slapstick and over-the-top humor. Sometimes it lands, sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t work, it’s uncomfortable to watch. But when it does work, you’re laughing out loud. I honestly just think that some people don’t understand that type of comedy. 

Most critics and reviewers blamed the shortcomings of “Thunder Force” on McCarthy pairing with Falcone. The movies they’ve worked on in the past, including “Tammy,” “The Boss” and “Life of the Party,” weren’t exactly favorites with critics either. However, they don’t let the bad reviews stop them. 

Playing devil’s advocate, I don’t believe Melissa McCarthy has ever starred in a bad film and I actually enjoy her comedy. I do understand, however, that “Thunder Force” isn’t for everybody. The plot is overkill and not every joke is a home run, but McCarthy and Spencer’s performance shines through. Even Jason Bateman’s supporting character is comedy gold. Not every comedy has to be out-of-this-world hilarious or have an amazing production value. It’s comforting to just watch a stupid movie that was made out of pure enjoyment. I think that’s why “Thunder Force” was so harshly criticized since reviewers were fully expecting a god-tier movie; it’s far from perfect, but it is still enjoyable. 

Don’t let the reviews turn you away. If you want a pick-me-up kind of film, then go ahead and watch “Thunder Force.” Just don’t expect a comedic tour-de-force.