Toothache: The Movie
All week I’ve had raging toothache. It’s one of those horribly dull, throbbing pains that reverberate through your body every time you attempt to chew. Every moment is agony and you find yourself wishing for better times. Anyway, this anecdote leads nicely along to Thunder Force.
Netflix’s latest superhero comedy (both words doing some serious heavy lifting) feels like a throbbing toothache you can’t get rid of. Across this 100 minute picture, Melissa McCarthy brings her usual comedic flair but much like Ghostbusters and Superintelligence, dials it up to 11 in a way that completely overpowers the script.
Coupled with an uninspiring superhero plot, contrived jokes and several big-name actors seemingly phoning it in, Thunder Force is a really dire movie.
The story here wastes absolutely no time setting the scene for the story to follow. In its simplest form, a giant plasma ray from outer space smashes into the planet, causing some people to become extremely superpowered. Unfortunately, those people are exclusively sociopaths (because reasons I guess?), leading to the world consumed by supervillains.
With this basic set-up out the way, we’re introduced to Lydia and Emily, two schoolkids who are thrust together through a chance encounter at school. Their budding friendship soon grows, with both characters inseparable up until college. Unfortunately a late alarm causes the pair to fall out and go their separate ways.
The first 30 minutes or so is predictably tame and painfully obvious but actually not that bad. It certainly sets things up for a promising film ahead – until it jumps forward in time. It’s here Thunder Force slams on the brakes and screeches to a disastrous stop, delivering a predictable origin story devoid of funny jokes, compelling twists or even a unique hook.
Instead, what we get are two superheroes that don’t even bother to disguise their identities and a simple good VS evil plot used to throw in plenty of gags along the way.
There are no moral implications or even any sort of inner turmoil over what Lydia and Emily’s lives are like after becoming heroes. There are a few jokes about smashed shop windows and one morally skewed joke about throwing a bus, but the movie never really explores these moments in more detail. Instead, it’s on to another drawn out joke or a heavily CGIed fight.
Don’t get me wrong, as someone who actually quite enjoyed Spy and Melissa McCarthy’s earlier work, it seems since Ghostbusters there’s been a shift with her humour – and not for the better.
It’s almost as if someone allowed her free reign to riff and improvise in front of the camera a lot more. Unfortunately this also completely stifles any sort of punchiness that could have been obtained with a more snappy joke. Having to sit through Melissa and co. explaining jokes that otherwise may have brought a light smile to the face completely sucks any of the fun out of this movie.
Thunder Force also doesn’t help itself with its characters either. It really fails to flesh out any of its antagonists beyond “evil bad guy who wants to rule the world.” With a name like The King, Bobby Cannavale doesn’t have a lot to work with here.
That’s a shame because he’s a great actor and in the hands of a different Director like Sam Esmail, this man can absolutely deliver some chilling characters with a lot of depth. Alas, that’s not the case so it’s on to another bear hug of death and glowy red eye segment.
Thunder Force feels like a dull, throbbing toothache from start to finish. It’s a painful movie devoid of intelligence, wit, originality or any stand-out moments. Given the wealth of other superhero movies out there – and genuinely good comedies – Thunder Force is a booming failure and one to avoid.