‘Thunder Force’ is a Thunder Snooze

Sarah Goody

Melissa McCarthy (left) and Octavia Spencer (right) star in “Thunder Force” a Netflix Original Movie about two friends joining together to save the city of Chicago from a dangerous group of superhumans called the Miscreants. (Courtesy of Netflix Media Center)

I spent a large part of 2020 and 2021 taking a deep dive into the world of Marvel and Detective Comics (DC), exploring the high reputation that superhero movies hold. So, when a Netflix Original superhero movie starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer was released it was exciting to see a fresh take on the genre. The movie “Thunder Force” takes place in an alternate present-day setting where superbeings called Miscreants plot to take control of Chicago. Childhood friends that had grown apart, Lydia (McCarthy) and Emily (Spencer), join forces to defeat the Miscreants and save humanity. With new releases like “WandaVision” and “Falcon & The Winter Soldier” racking up superb ratings, I anticipated that “Thunder Force” would be another hit out of the park for superheroes in 2021. However, this movie fell incredibly short of the standards set by previous superhero movies. “Thunder Force” is a two-hour-long Thunder Snooze, filled to the brim with utterly boring characters, uninspired jokes and generic action sequences.

Melissa McCarthy (left) uses her super strength to knock out Pom Klementieff (right) who plays the Miscreant Laser. (Courtesy of Netflix Media Center)

The plot of “Thunder Force” is easy to predict with its archetypal characters and predictable story of two friends coming together to fight the bad guys who killed a loved one. On the night of their high school reunion, Lydia and Emily reconnect, and Lydia accidentally takes a super serum that gives her super-strength. As a young child, Emily’s parents were killed during a Miscreant attack and her parent’s death led her to a lifelong journey trying to defeat the Miscreants. After perfecting the super serum Lydia stumbles into the lab and accidentally takes the serum. Over the course of the following weeks, Lydia and Emily embark on their journey towards saving the city of Chicago from the Miscreants. The storyline was meant to feel exciting, but the setting and universe weren’t developed. Overall, viewers were left unsatisfied wondering what the motives of the Miscreants were, why they only fought in Chicago, and what their superpowers were. Speaking of superpowers, the special effects in the movie compared to that of a silly kids show such as “Henry Danger” or “The Thundermans.”  

Despite the under-par special effects and bland script, what I found most disappointing about “Thunder Force” was Spencer’s performance. It was obvious that Spencer was committed to the project for its salary, not its plot. In contrast to other appearances in “The Help” and “Hidden Figures,” Spencer was boring, forgettable and bland in “Thunder Force.” It’s almost as if they cut the movie because the response is delayed from her character. Spencer approaches the role with dullness, something I wouldn’t anticipate from an academy award-winning actress, but from a Nickelodeon child star.

Bateman (right) and McCarthy (left) lean in for a kiss during an 80’s roller skate disco montage scene. (Courtesy of Netflix Media Center)

McCarthy was very predictable in the role of Lydia; a very cliche and classic role she always embodies, of providing comic relief throughout the movie. Her character had more depth than Spencers mostly due to a twisted love story with Miscreant “The Crab,” played by Jason Bateman, who became half-crab, half-human after being bitten on the crotch by a radioactive crab. Lydia and The Crab bond over their tragic backgrounds and their common love for raw chicken. Cue many dance montages and cheesy sexual jokes about falling in love with a crab. 

In a recent survey conducted by the Bark, it was found that Redwood student’s favorite superheroes were overwhelmingly white identifying men. Oftentimes when thinking about superheroes the first character that comes to mind is Iron Man, Batman or Superman. Although “Thunder Force” may have missed the mark on a lot of things, the only redeeming quality of this movie is that it introduces a more diverse and body-positive set of characters. I hope that this trend will continue in future superhero movies and we will see more women and Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) cast in roles.

Although this wasn’t McCarthy’s worst movie, it definitely wasn’t her best. “Thunder Force” felt awkwardly put together, and left some viewers truly confused as to why it was #1 trending on Netflix. Unless you are looking for another assembly line of generic lazy uninspired comedy directed by Ben Falcone, I would leave this movie off your watch list.