Thunder Force ★★

Let's start with the fact that I love Melissa McCarthy, even in poorly-regarded movies. But this is not one of those I am willing to defend.

It feels like the main problem isn't just that Falcone doesn't challenge his wife anymore; it's that the more projects she does with any given director, the fewer the returns. There’s something about her not being the focal point of any given scene that allows her to get crazy in a novel way. The more the script is built around: [Mellissa does her thing], the less she does her actual thing.

I’m sure the pitch meeting was fairly quick: “Melissa and Octavia (Butler)… as super-heroes!!!” But that’s a lazy high concept pitch (it probably didn’t even require a cocktail napkin), and the script was never built out beyond that point. Sometimes the “quality control” that comes with production studios can be a good thing, I guess.

The one intelligent idea was to bring along Jason Bateman, who plays his normal Arrested Development character, except instead of having a family full of craziness, he has crab arms and what would assume to be a bucket full of childhood issues. He manages to both underplay everything and also perform all of the comedy completely straight. There is no wink at the camera. There is only the very occasional blink as his character deals with new or surprising information.

Alas, other than scenes with Bateman, even the funny jokes are telegraphed well in advance. Thunder Force manages to be slightly worse than the average Netflix movie, which is a significant achievement, but not the sort of thing I recommend watching.

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