Thunder Force: Good Takes On Evil in Chicago

(L-R): Melissa McCarthy as LYDIA, Octavia Spencer as EMILY. Photo credit: HOPPER STONE/NETFLIX © 2021. 

Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer star as a pair of mismatched superheroes in Thunder Force, the newest Netflix original.

A comic book panel style montage sets the scene for what’s happening in the film. In March 1983, a massive explosion of interstellar cosmic-rays hit Earth. This led to select humans undergoing a genetic transformation. Unfortunately, the powers were only unlocked in those people predisposed to be a sociopath. Because mutants and meta-humans were already taken by Marvel and DC, Thunder Force refers to them as Miscreants.

Back in the day, Emily Stanton found herself orphaned when her geneticist parents were killed by Miscreants. She set a lifelong goal of creating superpowers that could defeat the villains. Teased in school because of her IQ, Lydia Berman befriends her and the rest is history. Years later, Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) and Emily (Octavia Spencer) are now estranged after being best friends throughout their childhood. Emily is now back in Chicago where she’s the founder of Stanton 4.0 and Lydia is free-spirited. If you tell her not to touch something, she’s going to do the exact opposite. During their chance reunion, Lydia touches things she shouldn’t and develops super strength. Lydia, on the other hand, has the power to be invisible.

Emily and Lydia have help from Emily’s daughter, Tracy (Taylor Mosby). The apple does not fall far from the tree as they say. It’s not long before they take on the likes of The Crab (Jason Bateman) and Laser (Pom Klementieff). Both of which are working for The King (Bobby Cannavale). I’m not going to spoil the specifics of the this plotline.

As far as comic book type movies go, Thunder Force doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre. I saw some of the tropes coming a mile away! Meanwhile, Lydia is the last person anyone would consider when it comes to picking a superhero team. Both of them have completely different personalities. This isn’t entirely uncommon when it comes to the genre. The thing I keep asking myself is this: would Melissa McCarthy be cast in this role if her husband didn’t write and direct the film? Most of McCarthy’s best work on the screen is because of either working with Paul Feig or being cast in indie films like St. Vincent and Can You Ever Forgive Me? Ben Falcone’s films, not so much. The actress isn’t really riding a hot streak of late.

Here’s the thing about Chicago-set movies: it is so easy to notice the things that make zero sense. I’m not so much talking about the way someone talks. As is the case with other cities, not everyone is a Chicago native. I understand making up a station if you can’t get permission to use a local network. While the filmmakers come up with the call sign of WXSP for a network, they didn’t do their due diligence. In fact, a quick internet search shows that this network is based across the lake in Michigan. Why would a Michigan network report on the Chicago mayoral race let alone have a signal reaching the Chicago vicinity? But I digress.

Thunder Force is fine if you need a distraction for just over an hour and a half but it doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre.

CAST: Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Bobby Cannavale, Pom Klementieff, Kevin Dunn, Taylor Mosby, Marcella Lowery, with Melissa Leo and Jason Bateman

Netflix launches Thunder Force on April 9, 2021.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.