Thunderbirds (2004)

DVD Reviews | Mar 4th, 2005

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Starring Bill Paxton, Ben Kingsley, Anthony Edwards
Written By: Gerry and Sylvia Anderson (for original TV series)
Directed By: Jonathan Frakes
Studio: Universal
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Any child of the 60’s probably at least remembers, even if not fondly, the marionette-based animation of the exploits of International Rescue, Jeff Tracy’s crack team of rescuers. The group consists of all of Tracy’s sons, who have taken as the name of their team, the name they gave their various air, land, and water-craft: Thunderbirds. Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Will Riker) directs the 21st-century retelling of those exploits, in a format that is designed to introduce the characters to a new generation of kids, while still entertaining their parents.

The story is set as we see Alan Tracy, the youngest of Tracy’s sons, lamenting that he is considered too young to partake in the important rescue-work, and is instead stuff off at a boarding school far away from all the action. It’s made fairly clear to us that while Alan is young and precocious, he DOES have the know-how as to how to perform the rescue operations, and to use the tools his father and brothers use.

The basic gist of the story, without giving too much away, is that “The Hood” (Ben Kingsley, of Gandhi and Sneakers fame) has a grudge against Jeff Tracy, and has decided to strand the Thunderbirds where they cannot interfere, and then use the Thunderbirds’ hardware to stage a series of bank robberies, implicating them for the crimes. Alan, who remains behind on their island sanctuary with The Hood and his cronies, is left to figure out a way to rescue his family and save the day, predictably, growing up in the process.

Thunderbirds follows a familiar pattern of modern kids’ movies in that the “main” storyline is definitely designed for the childrens’ demographic, but their parents (or in this case, adults who grew up watching the original series) will not be completely ignored and can still come away having enjoyed themselves. It is not Dostoyevskiy, to be certain, but Thunderbirds is an interesting 95 minutes that will distract the viewer from what’s going on in the world, and maybe ponder a world where completely altruistic people like the Tracys could actually exist.

The DVD includes a number of extras including some featurettes about the making of the fictional world of the Thunderbirds, a music video, the film’s trailer, and a feature commentary with Jonathan Frakes (amusingly misspelled “Johnathan” on the menu item).

Overall, if you are a fan of the old TV show, or if you have kids, then this is definitely a film you will enjoy. Even kids-at-heart adults will probably find excellent value in the film.

The Ultimate Action Sequence: Go behind-the-scenes and get in on the action.
Secrets Of Tracy Island:
Access top secret rehearsal and design footage.
FAB1: More Than Just A Car:Get an in-depth look at the development of this amazing car.
Lady Penelope’s Pink World:
Lady P. And Parker: Fun and stunts.
Music Video Performed By Busted
Feature Commentary: With Director Jonathan Frakes.

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 CC
SPANISH: Dolby Digital 5.1
FRENCH: Dolby Digital 5.1

Widescreen 1.85:1 Color (Anamorphic)


Favorite Scenes: It was fun for me, after years of watching Anthony Edwards play Dr. Greene on NBC’s “ER”, to see him going back to his “roots” sort of. Edwards plays “Brains”, the geeky “Q”-like character who sits around designing the gadgets and tools that the Thunderbirds utilize in their day to day operations, a stereotype Edwards really had tried to avoid after his experiences with the “Revenge of the Nerds” movies.
Rating: PG
Running Time: 95 minutes
Extras Rating:
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