Only A Shower From This Thunder

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THUNDER FORCE (L-R): MELISSA MCCARTHY as LYDIA, OCTAVIA SPENCER as EMILY. Cr. HOPPER STONE/NETFLIX © 2021.

By Paul Hall

All superheroes, and for that matter supervillains, have an origin story. This is the tale of the creation of Thunder Force, now on Netflix.

Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer) was only 12 years old when she lost her parents to an attack by the villains known as Miscreants and since then the highly intelligent Emily has dreamt of bringing the evildoers to justice.

As Emily was getting used to her new school after moving in with her grandmother, she displayed her smarts in her classes. This intelligence brought out the bullies, but Lydia Berman (Melissa McCarthy) would have none of it, sticking up for Emily from early on. The two girls become friends at a young age; though they couldn’t be more different, they make an indelible connection with each other.

As high school comes to an end, the two are obviously heading in different directions. Emily is driven to advance her knowledge while Lydia just wants to have fun. The wall grows between the two and they head their separate ways.

Now, 25 years later, a high school reunion is in play and the women, who have been estranged for years and remain very different, reconnect, but the results are quite different than anticipated. Emily’s knowledge and Lydia’s brawn come together to form a crazy crime-fighting duo who ultimately take the name Thunder Force.

Origin stories tend to drag in any superhero story, and Thunder Force is no exception. While moments of the crime-fighting duo’s narrative feel forced and seem out of place, the film gets its legs as it progresses. A clunky introduction to both the Miscreants and Thunder Force leaves a bit to be desired and a number of details are left out of the film.

Where the film works is in poking fun at pop culture and laughing at itself. Chuckles abound, and although we don’t get a number of extreme laughs, these moments of humor make the experience pleasant with Thunder Force.

I love that Spencer brings her dramatic prowess to the screen in this lighter offering. McCarthy remains queen of pratfalls, and her self-deprecating humor is intact. But I’m probably most hopeful for the young Taylor Mosby, who takes on the role of Tracy Stanton and steals scenes at a moment’s notice.

Pop culture references from Steve Urkel to Van Halen, Bon Jovi and Slayer stirred up fond memories in my head, and that definitely gave me the warm fuzzies. Although this won’t win any awards, Thunder Force brings the thunder in fun and music that resonated with me. And yes, as there should be, there is a Thunder Force theme song before the film ends.

Paul’s Grade: C+

Thunder Force
Rated PG-13
Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Bobby Cannavale, Pom Klementieff, Taylor Mosby, Melissa Leo, Jason Bateman
Director: Ben Falcone