'Thunder Force' Review: A heroic misfire

Ah, Thunder Force. I wanted to be on your team.

Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer star in superhero film Thunder Force coming to the platform on April 9.
(Image: © Netflix)

What to Watch Verdict

If awkward humor were a super power, Ben Falcone could take over the world.


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    ⚡️Taylor Mosby shines as Tracy.

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    ⚡️Lighthearted superhero fare.

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    ⚡️Jason Bateman's crab walk.


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    ⚡️Ben Falcone's uncomfortable humor is on full display for better or worse.

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    ⚡️"Lighthearted" isn't synonymous with "good" here.

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    ⚡️How do you waste Pom Klementieff?

This post contains spoilers for Thunder Force.

Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy films will continue till morale improves, it seems. The husband and wife team clearly enjoy working together, so it's hard to begrudge them that. The issue is that their on-screen partnership always seems to go the same way. Tammy and Superintelligence both feature Falcone's particular brand of uncomfortable humor, but the focus on discomfort over quality is apparent on both fronts no matter what level of talent involved. The same can be said for the kind of cute but ultimately awkward and predictable Thunder Force.

Thunder Force is the kind of movie you want to root for — and the exact kind of film I'd typically be championing. Unlikely heroes, powerful women, and comedy should be the trifecta. But when you focus on your audience's discomfort over the idea of actually making them laugh, you squander everything else your film has going for it. 

The film has a familiar formula — not typically a downer in movies of this nature — Lydia Burman (Melissa McCarthy) is the tough gal screw-up who loves her friends fiercely but doesn't care about much else while Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer) is the smart girl with everything in the world to prove. When Emily's geneticist parents are killed by Miscreants (basically the film's equivalent to Meta humans), she makes it her life's work to finish their genetic experiments to create super humans who can protect the world from the Big Bads. 

The girls have a falling out in high school after Lydia makes Emily late for her AP exams, but the two come back together after an earnest text message from Lydia hoping her former bestie will make it to their reunion. Emily doesn't make it, so Lydia meets her at her office to escort her back. Instead, Lydia finds herself on receiving end of an experiment. One that was meant to give Emily powers instead of her reactionary best friend. 

What unfolds after that is basically a whole lot of trials as Lydia deals with her super strength and Emily settles for invisibility — the other half of the powers she had meant to imbue upon herself. The girls come together again after years apart with the help of the fussy Allie (Melissa Leo) and Emily's wonderful daughter, Tracy (Taylor Mosby) in order to fight the Miscreants and the evil King. 

Taylor Mosby's Tracy actually ends up being one of the few shining moments of the film. Her performance evolves well-past the daughter of a super genius, and she gets the opportunity to help save the day herself before it's all said and done. Jason Bateman's The Crab also deserves a few accolades. Most of his arc focuses on the discomfort we discussed before, but the way he runs away like a crab is one of the few laughs the film earned throughout its runtime.

There's not much else to say about this one. Spencer and McCarthy both deserved a better film! There's nothing ostensibly offensive about Thunder Force, there's just not anything that makes it worth a watch, either. 

Amelia Emberwing

Amelia is an entertainment Streaming Editor at IGN, which means she spends a lot of time analyzing and editing stories on things like Loki, Peacemaker, and The Witcher. In addition to her features and editorial work, she’s also a member of both the Television Critics Association and Critics Choice. A deep love of film and television has kept her happily in the entertainment industry for 7 years.