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Sponsorbirds are F*rd!
on 19 November 2009
It speaks volumes in our fast-moving world that the original Thunderbirds television series still looks futuristic after nearly 45 years.
Against that, this Americanised live-action version is already looking a little dated after only five.
Of course, maybe the buyer of this DVD doesn't care about some ancient history and just wants to know if this film is worth getting.
Fans of the television series will know that what mattered was the saving of people in danger ("We're gonna die, Joe! we're gonna die!" "NO! Here come International Rescue") and the procedures to launch each of the Thunderbird craft, especially numbers 1 and 2.
Neither of these elements features in the film - a monorail crashes into the Thames and we experience hardly a creak nor a twang (cf National Theatre of Brent) from the perspective of those trapped. The launches are perfunctory affairs.
Instead, we find that the baddies are led by a sleepwalking Ben Kingsley as a decidedly non-Oriental Hood and, in a shameless display of ignorant sexism, Rose Keegan (Transom) is introduced rear-end-first as "foxy" (supposed to be good) but it is then revealed she has "bad teeth" (I quote - "eeuw") (which is supposed to be the reaction). Why does she try to get it on with Brains? Why should we care?
On the one hand, the Tracy brothers look a bit like a toothpaste advert (even Alan is wearing a brace) but on the other they are irredeemably scruffy. Even the International Rescue uniform has become a kind of grey overalls...
And the focus of the action is Tracy Island.
In fact, this film's central character could be Bill or Ted but is actually Alan Tracy, who is involved in a chase caper across Tracy Island. Inexplicably, Brains has a son called Fermat and Tintin is said to be "blossoming" - yuk!
Lady Penelope (Sophia Myles) is a successful Emma Peel-type take on the role. Parker (Ron Cook) (he played Chivery in 2008's "Little Dorrit") is quite good but isn't really given the lines to develop a character.
There are several good extras about the making of the film though they are hard to access through a menu.
The product placement is completely crass. Fords abound everywhere, and even FAB 1 (which everyone knows is a pink Rolls-Royce) is based on a heavily-modified American Ford Thunderbird, apparently.
Overall, I see these CGI workers in garret rooms working hard on the film in the extras, I see Tracy Island, I even note that each Tracy brother has a flash of a different colour on his overalls, I note that they have filmed opposite the Houses of Parliament and in the Seychelles, I note that they even closed Tower Bridge to fly through it in real life, and I wonder how come the end result is not miles better!
Just goes to show that pots of money are no substitute for true invention - like V for Vendetta's creator Alan Moore, the ghost at this feast who is not credited is Gerry Anderson...