Thunder Force review – Melissa McCarthy gets superstrength in rote superhero comedy squib

McCarthy and Octavia Spencer are childhood friends turned crime-fighting duo in this by-the-numbers comedy

Melissa McCarthy’s moderate new superhero comedy vehicle stars McCarthy opposite Octavia Spencer, and is written and directed by her husband, Ben Falcone, who has a cameo as a hapless henchman called Kenny – the subject of what may or may not be a South Park gag.

In an alternate universe where the US is threatened by super-villains called Miscreants, Lydia (McCarthy) is a big-hearted kid from Chicago who in high school protects a super-smart girl called Emily from bullies; they become best friends who lose touch in adulthood. Lydia grows up to be a lonely, boozy worker in a packing plant but Emily – now played by Octavia Spencer – becomes a tech zillionaire developing genetic treatments to turn ordinary people into superheroes. When Lydia drunkenly blunders into Emily’s lab, insisting on taking her to a class reunion, she accidentally plugs herself into the equipment and gives herself super-strength. And so exasperated high-achiever Emily figures they might as well team up to form Thunder Force, battling a Miscreant called Laser (Pom Klementieff – Mantis, from the Marvel Cinematic Universe), together with a bad guy called the King (Bobby Cannavale) and his associate the Crab, someone with pincers for arms – a role for Jason Bateman that again proves Bateman’s comically self-aware likability has never worked as well as it did in the role of Michael Bluth in TV’s Arrested Development.

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