Available from April 9 on the platform Netflix, Thunder Force is a concentrate of comics, video games and pop culture 360 degrees. Written and directed by Ben Falcone (husband of Melissa McCarthy which is the undisputed protagonist of the film), the feature film looks like a lively and light-hearted comedy. The idea is to try to fit in a unique and original way within contemporary cinema, at least that relating to the market mainstream, trying to season everything with the ingredients that are popular today.
A concentrate of pop culture
The prologue of the Netflix movie Thunder Force is conceived shot as if it were a sort of comic (which already says a lot about the path that the film will want to take) and starts from 1983, that is the year of release of the first video game in the series of the same name. This could be some kind of false clue why, however it is, Thunder Force (he films) it is not the film adaptation of Thunder Force (the videogame). The film is in fact set in Chicago, not in space, and tells the incredible adventure of two close friends who, after many years in which they have not spoken anymore, will have to deal with super villains.
On one side is Lydia (played by Melissa McCarthy), an impetuous and grim girl who has a particular penchant for justice even though he spends most of his days hanging around listening to the music of Van Halen. On the other hand there is Emily (Octavia Spencer), who suffered a strong bereavement as a child due to a group of supervillains and for this reason he decided to devote his entire life to studies. The aim is to create a formula to transform into a superhuman, with unique and powerful qualities so that he can take revenge for the wrong he has suffered.
As you can guess, Thunder Force not only draws from the world of videogames and that of talking clouds, but is based precisely on a dramaturgical structure that perfectly takes as a model a classic origin story. For a funny series of reasons in fact the serum will be administered to both friends who they will become even more complementary. On the one hand the impulsive and unrestrained white woman with the gift of brute strength, on the other the rigid and studious African American capable of becoming invisible. The powers of both differentiate the characters even more of the two friends, however, matching their personality. Obviously, to succeed in the final mission, only by teaming up will they be able to get away with it.
So, Thunder Force masquerades as cinecomic but it remains in fact a comedy in all respects. In addition to the profile of the two protagonists and the interpretative verve of their respective actresses (much better the proof of McCarthy, much more at ease than a cast and listless Octavia Spencer), the message at the basis of the film wants to be nothing more than an excuse to entertain the public with gag e sketch to the limits of the absurd. Thunder Force pushes on the accelerator playing with many stereotypes and then putting them to the sedan: from the costumes of the heroines to the features of the antagonists, obviously passing through the caricature of the secondary characters and supernatural qualities.
Not everything is in the right place
If the intentions can then be interesting and curious, they are there two obvious problems that hinder the success of the film. The first is linked to his most comic streak. Thunder Force it is not in fact a very inspired feature film. The jokes do not convince as they should and as a whole it seems to witness an already aged product. Sure, the idea of trying to stage a world upside down (superheroines instead of superheroes, funny antagonists and slackers instead of ruthless, clumsy and bulky bodies instead of sexy and curvy) works, however. the findings are ultimately less hilarious than expected and not too original.
The second obstacle is that Thunder Force fails to overcome is that of criticism of today’s society. In a hasty and careless way, the film brings to the screen an ideal world that is the child of more recent social battles. In addition to the inclusion of racial minorities and the staging of a sort of “feminine” revenge, the Chicago that is the backdrop to the adventures of the two heroines is grappling with the election of the new mayor. On the one hand a shady and fearsome masked alien, on the other a career woman with a reassuring air.
Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with letting yourself be guided from the historical present and from the laws of entertainment that the market gradually follows to keep up with the times. Cinema has always been an industry based on similar concepts and it is interesting to note how, over the decades, similar products have changed shape to better reflect the spirit of the years. but yet Thunder Force he just settles the matter too quickly, without wanting to go inside more in detail of the metaphor. The director throws the stone, but then hides his hand, thus limiting his project.
The idea of creating a sort of radiography of the most contemporary cinematic present, playing with current events and the most profitable market trends, is certainly the most interesting point of Thunder Force. It is a pity therefore that not everything is in the right place, that the couple of actresses do not work as well as elsewhere and some passages and characters are really too superficial and stereotyped. Of course, it remains an entertainment product with no other claims than to lighten the spectator’s day for an hour and a half. However in the years in which the cinematographic comedy has been able to wisely dialogue with the great cinema mainstream perhaps it is only right to expect more.