We are living in the golden age of superhero movies, and it's rare to see a film in the genre that doesn't come from comic books or other existing source materials. That's one fun and occasionally refreshing thing about Thunder Force, the new Netflix comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer as two former childhood friends who reunite to fight crime. The movie bounces back and forth between being a silly comedy and an original superhero flick, and while it sometimes struggles with conflating the two ideas, the end result is an entertaining ride that will likely satisfy most fans of McCarthy-led action comedies like The Heat and Spy.
Written and directed by McCarthy's husband, Ben Falcone, Thunder Force follows Chicago natives Lydia (McCarthy) and Emily (Spencer) in a world where a 1980s phenomenon caused a small group of people to attain powers. Unfortunately, only folks with psychotic tendencies were affected, leaving the world at the mercy of dangerous, powered individuals known as Miscreants. For years, Emily worked on a serum to give regular humans powers in order to fight back. Being the clumsy wrecking ball that she is, Lydia accidentally injects herself with a serum that gives her super-strength while visiting Emily at work. With her new power and Emily's newfound invisibility, the two become the dynamic duo known as Thunder Force.
Like every comedy movie ever made, Thunder Force won't be for everyone. The film provides a fair amount of laughs and a surprising amount of heart, but sometimes it doesn't quite know which way to lean. The heartfelt moments of the film are sweet and enjoyable, especially considering they're led by McCarthy and Spencer, but they're nothing we haven't seen before. Learning to grow as a person as well as a hero is a theme seen in pretty much every comic book movie ever made, which is why this movie is strongest when it leans into its absurd humor.
Thunder Force's most deliciously ludicrous addition is Jason Bateman as The Crab, a half-Miscreant with (you guessed it) crab claws for hands. Bateman's scenes are so over-the-top and ridiculous, it makes me wish more of the movie had taken weird risks like the ones seen recently in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Sadly, Thunder Force isn't nearly as bold or as full of belly laughs as the Kristen Wiig comedy, but there were still a few jokes that had me rolling. As a comic book movie fan, there are many moments in Thunder Force that felt too familiar, but Bateman attempting to drink a martini with giant claw hands was not one of them.
Thunder Force's biggest draw is the cast, which also features Bobby Cannavale, Melissa Leo, Pom Klementieff, and Taylor Mosby as Emily’s daughter. Each actor is a fun addition, but it's really McCarthy and Spencer's chemistry that makes the movie worth watching. A superhero film starring two 50-year-old women isn't something you see every day, and it's hard not to feel uplifted when watching them kick some Miscreant butt. Sure, the science is silly and it doesn't take superpowers to figure out where the plot is headed every step of the way, but sometimes it's nice to shut off your brain and watch an Oscar winner and an Oscar nominee struggle to get in and out of a Lamborghini.
While Thunder Force isn't reinventing the superhero or the comedy genres, its star-studded cast and fun energy make it an enjoyable little watch. It's a nice option for the whole family, considering its PG-13 rating and light-hearted nature. Not everyone will love The Crab as much as me, but, hopefully, people will at least appreciate Falcone's attempt at creating something fun. Thunder Force is not a movie I will rush to watch again, but I wouldn't say no to a sequel.0comments
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thunder Force is now streaming on Netflix.