Thunder Force Parent Guide
This isn't a thundering cinematic achievement, but it does have a few funny moments.
Parent Movie Review
What if only villains had superpowers?
This is the premise behind Thunder Force, Netflix’s new superhero comedy. Interstellar cosmic rays have hit the earth, triggering genetic changes and bestowing superpowers on people with a genetic predisposition to psychopathy. The world is now menaced by violent, cruel superhumans known as miscreants, who can easily outmaneuver the police.
When the miscreants’ reign of terror leaves two scientists dead, their daughter Emily (Octavia Spencer) vows to complete their work and find a way to use genetic sequencing to bestow powers on ordinary people who are committed to fighting evil. As Emily’s decades of scientific research culminate in formulas that will produce super strength and invisibility, her old friend, Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) comes for an uninvited visit and inadvertently undergoes one of the treatments.
At its heart, Thunder Force is an “Odd Couple” buddy pic – a tale of mismatched friends who must work together, balance their widely divergent strengths, forgive past wrongs, and find common cause against a greater evil. In this it largely succeeds, giving audiences a story of two protagonists who manage to move beyond the past and unite in the face of evil, violence, and treachery. There’s a decent emotional arc here and it largely works.
Thunder Force is also trying to be two other films; somewhat less successfully. First, it’s a superhero flick and while it does an okay job, it doesn’t stand out in a crowded field. In fact, it has a vaguely amateur feel, although it still manages a certain cockeyed charm. Second, it’s a midlife comedy and an extremely mediocre one at that. This should be the easiest part of the film to pull off but the laughs just aren’t there. Admittedly, Ms. Spencer’s acting is uneven, but Ms. McCarthy’s comic talents should be more than enough to carry this material. It’s worth noting that Ms. McCarthy also feels flat at times in the film: perhaps having her trademark crude comedy toned down has left her adrift, unsure of how to fill the void.
As for content issues, this is a superhero movie, so parents can expect frequent scenes of highly sanitized superhero violence. There’s nothing here you haven’t already seen in a Marvel comic movie – and far less of it, in fact. This is also a Melissa McCarthy movie, which will be cause for more concern, fully justified by the film’s profanity and crude sexual innuendo. Given the PG-13 rating, Ms. McCarthy’s trademark bawdy humor has been dialed back but the movie would be better without the scenes of Emily licking the claw of the half-creant, Crab (Jason Bateman), and smearing butter all over his pincers as she eyes him seductively. The script also leans into the yuck factor with repeated scenes of Emily vomiting and an icky side-effect of her treatments that gives her a craving for raw chicken. Watching Emily repeatedly hoover down slimy chicken cutlets leaves me gagging and freaking out about salmonella poisoning.
Thunder Force is one of those movies that falls neatly into the “dumb fun” category. It lands more heavily on the “dumb” side than on the “fun” side of the scale, but it still has plenty of amusing moments, if you can stand the many awkward ones. It’s not a thundering cinematic achievement, and it’s not going to explode across the entertainment universe, but it’s far from being the worst thing on Netflix.Directed by Ben Falcone. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Jason Bateman. Running time: 105 minutes. Theatrical release April 9, 2021. Updated April 10, 2021
Watch the trailer for Thunder Force
Rating & Content Info
Why is Thunder Force rated PG-13? Thunder Force is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some action/violence, language and mild suggestive material
Violence: A train engulfed by green light: deaths are implied. A boy pushes a girl and knocks her down. A student punches another and threatens him with a stick. There are frequent scenes where a villain destroys property and injures or kills people with energy pulses. A man crushes people to death. A woman accidentally triggers a machine that restrains her and pierces her with needles. Someone is told that her body might explode. There is mention of potential dire side effects of genetic sequencing. There are pictures of burning cars. There are frequent scenes where guns are fired in the course of criminal activity. There are frequent altercations with people punched, shoved, kicked, and thrown. There’s mention of someone who loves killing people. Heavy objects are repeatedly thrown at people and death sometimes results. A man is hit with a steel girder and thrown through a window. A bomb explodes.
Sexual Content: Needles are injected into a woman’s face and through her breasts. A woman jokes about ovulation. There is some innuendo about a man’s erection. A woman licks a man’s arm. There’s reference to two women being in a romantic relationship. A man mentions being bitten in the genitals by a radioactive creature. A man mentions skinny dipping. A man undoes a woman’s blouse; sexual activity is implied and is later mentioned in a coded discussion.
Profanity: There are over two dozen terms of deity, a half dozen scatological curses, a handful of minor swear words, and a variety of crude terms for breasts and male genitalia. There is also a single mouthed (but not heard) sexual expletive. There are also a few crude terms for women.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A main character drinks alcohol on a job where she is operating heavy equipment. A main character frequently consumes beer and drinks other types of alcohol in social situations.
Page last updated April 10, 2021
Thunder Force Parents' Guide
Why do Lydia and Emily drift apart? What are the character traits that draw them together? Which ones divide them? What are the benefits of friendships with people who are very different from us?
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