The Sixth Estate
Friday, July 30, 2004
QUOTE OF THE DAY : We would like to live as we once lived, but history will not permit it. - John F. Kennedy

SONG OF THE DAY : The Chemical Brothers - Star Guitar

LINK OF THE DAY : Funny Bush and Kerry Cartoon.

The man's undone forever; for if Hector break not his
neck i' the combat, he'll break't himself in

6.5/10 STARS

Boy band gone wrong?
Boy band rejects? Nope, International Rescue.

Thunderbirds are GO! Bill Paxton and Ben Kingsley star in Jonathan Frakes' update of the classic 1960's Supermarionation TV series. Jeff Tracy (Paxton) is a billionaire, retired astronaut and the leader of International Rescue. From their secret island in the south Pacific, Tracy and his four sons are ready to respond to disasters anywhere in the world at any time, thanks to their incredible vehicles - The Thunderbirds! Straight off their latest mission, the Tracy's head home for some well needed rest. Joining them is the fifth Tracy son, Alan (Brady Corbet). As the youngest Tracy, he's constantly living in the shadow of his father and older brothers. He only wants to help out, but his father refuses to let him participate until he finishes school.

We're soon introduced to all the characters at International Rescue. Brains (Anthony Edwards) the resident genius and social reject. His son Fermat (Soren Fulton), seemingly a clone of his father. The groundskeeper, his wife and daughter Tintin. And of course no Thunderbirds movie would be complete without Lady Penelope (Sophia Myles) and her faithful chauffeur Parker (Ron Cook). All is not as peaceful as it seems though. A mysterious submarine, captained by telekinetic genius The Hood (Ben Kingsley) and his band of British cronies, has been spying on International Rescue, and they've discovered the location of their secret island. The Hood wastes little time putting his sinister plan into action. Using a missile to cripple Thunderbird 5, he forces the Tracy clan to embark on an ill-fated rescue attempt to the space station. Seizing control of the island in their absence, The Hood ends up stranding the members of International Rescue on the damaged Thunderbird 5. It's now up to Alan Tracy, Fermat and Tintin to rescue the rescuers, with a little help from Brains and Lady Penelope.

The film is good for what it is - a kids movie. Taking a page from Spy Kids, Thunderbirds is yet another outing in the kids-with-cool-gadgets genre. That being said, I had a good time with the film. As a fan of the original series I would have rather seen more of a focus on the adults. I didn't find the three main characters (the kids) to be very interesting characters. However because it's a kids film, it works. All of the kids in attendance seemed to love it. Though most of those kids probably enjoyed Scooby-Doo, so maybe that's not saying much. The cast was good for the most part. Bill Paxton did what he could with a relatively small part as the Tracy family patriarch, but some of his lines seemed a bit forced. Ben Kingsley was very good, as would be expected. He elevates The Hood from cartoonish super-villain, to real life megalomaniac. The gorgeous Sophia Myles is very good as Lady Penelope, and Ron Cook is hilarious as Parker. Myles and Cook steal the show. As for the child actors, they could have been better, no real standout performances from them.

The whole film is an homage to the original series. Numerous in-jokes and allusions to puppets are made through out the film. It also looks very good. It has that colourful not-to-distant future feel, and it really works with this movie. The CGI was amazing. The Thunderbirds all look very impressive, but at the same time realistic. I was glad to see that they stayed true to the original design of the vehicles, rather than reimagining them like most new movies would. From a technical standpoint, it's a very slick film.

Is Thunderbirds worth seeing if you don't have kids? Only if you're a fan of the original series. If you are a fan of the original series you might be disappointed because of the adolescent focus of the film, but everything you loved about the TV series is still there. If you have kids, then this is definitely one to take them to. Thunderbirds has all the flare of the classic series, mixed with some Spy Kids-esque scenarios. The film is meant to be a 'fun-for-all-ages' kind of film, and it succeeds at that.


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