Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Thunderbirds

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
4 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: PG

Starring:
Brady Corbet as Alan Tracy
Soren Fulton as Fermat
Genie Francis as Lisa Lowe
Philip Winchester as Scott Tracy
Deobia Oparei as Mullion
Bill Paxton as Jeff Tracy
Kyle Herbert as Know It All Kid
Dominic Colenso as Virgil Tracy
Ben Torgersen as Gordon Tracy
Sophia Myles as Lady Penelope
Ron Cook as Parker

Special Features:
Commentary with Director Jonathan Frakes

Secrets of Tracy Island Revealed

Lady Penelope's Pink World

Creating the Ultimate Action Sequence

Lady P & Parker Lose Their Cool: Fun & Stunts

FAB1: More Than Just a Car

Music Video by Busted

Theatrical Trailer

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish and French Languages
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

"Take off with the Thunderbirds! Armed with the latest high-tech vehicles and gadgets, the Tracy family tackles global rescue operations on a daily basis. But when their archenemy, "The Hood" (Ben Kingsley), sabotages the Thunderbirds as part of his master plan to rob the world's richest banks, it's up to Alan, the youngest Tracy, to spring into action before disaster strikes. Loaded with non-stop thrills, you'll love the full-throttle family adventure that has fans cheering...Thunderbirds are GO!"

Thunderbirds is rated PG for intense action sequences and language.

The Movie:
Having seen Thunderbirds, I think it's safe to say that it's a film for young boys and not many other people. It features the clich้ plot of the adults being in trouble and the kids having to come to the rescue. It features a lot of comic book science and enormous ships. It is at times silly and illogical. There's not much here for adults.

And if you're a fan of the original Thunderbirds, you may find this movie to be a bit of a mixed bag. They feature a lot of the trademarks of the old TV series like the exact same ships, the theme music, the countdown, the details of the launching sequences, and more. But one of the main draws of the old show was the cool ships and they aren't even seen for a majority of this movie. Most of the film is simply a game of cat and mouse on Tracy Island between kids and bad guys that weren't in the original show. The movie also makes the identities of the heroes a big secret despite the fact that it makes no sense, especially at the end when they show their faces to the world without apparent concern.

I wish I could say that the acting in the movie was great, but it wasn't. The leading kids are mediocre and you never really like Brady Corbet as Alan Tracy. His character is obnoxious more than likable. Bill Paxton has never been known for his acting prowess. Ben Kingsley is intimidating as The Hood, but he's quickly reduced to a comic book villain. Even ER's Anthony Edwards is reduced to a stuttering nerdy scientist in this movie. Quite a step down from ER. Sophia Myles is cute as Lady Penelope and she has good chemistry with Ron Cook as Parker, but they alone aren't enough to save the movie.

The effects for the Thunderbird ships are pretty good. It's always fun to see rocket ships blasting off and space stations exploding. Unfortunately, as already mentioned, this isn't seen as much in the movie as you might expect. What is here is cool, though. There's an impressive rescue at an offshore oil rig that opens the movie. Then there's a cool chase between the Pacific Ocean and London. However, there aren't many other moments with the ships in the movie. Surprisingly Hans Zimmer contributes to the music, but his touch is rarely noticeable.

Overall, if you need a safe action film to entertain some young boys with, then Thunderbirds will fit the bill. However, if you're looking for an action packed special effects-filled movie, you're probably better off looking elsewhere.

The Extras:
There are a few bonus features included on this DVD. Oddly, they are heavily skewed towards featuring Lady Penelope:

Commentary with Director Jonathan Frakes – Frakes delivers the commentary here. He has a lot of info about alternate scenes, the way he really wanted to do things here and there, etc. It gets a little dry at times, but it is informative.

Secrets of Tracy Island Revealed – This shows how they designed the sets for Tracy Island. They show digital sets, sets on stage, and more. They also reveal how they went to the original TV show for inspiration.

Lady Penelope's Pink World – This shows Penelope's gadgets and her unique wardrobe.

Creating the Ultimate Action Sequence – This featurette shows how they put together the big final action sequence for the movie. They show the creation of the digital ships, shooting a helicopter flying under London Bridge, etc. It's quite an interesting look at the most exciting scene in the movie.

Lady P & Parker Lose Their Cool: Fun & Stunts – Yet another feature on Lady Penelope, this one shows how she and her butler trained for the fight scene in the movie.

FAB1: More Than Just a Car – The final installment in the Penelope trilogy, this one shows how Ford made the special Thunderbird for the movie. (Oddly, Rolls Royce didn't want anything to do with the movie.)

The Bottom Line:
Thunderbirds is a pretty good, clean adventure for young boys. Thunderbirds fans will probably find it to be a bit of a mixed bag while everyone else will probably want to pass on it.

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