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125
3.7 out of 5 stars
Thunderbirds [DVD] [2004]
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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...
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2011
Having loved the original series from my childhood (and owning the DVD's now) I was excited when news broke of a live action Thunderbirds film. I also count myself as a kean Star Trek fan and was pleased to see Jonathan Frakes as the producer (Riker from ST Next Generation) and thought that despite being American (where the original series wasn't a success) he maybe the right man to modernise and introuduce Thunderbirds to a new generation.

What we got was a poorly explained, childish and silly mockery of the original series. Major characters from the series take some what more of a back seat in the film..and there is so much chopping and changing that goes on it takes a knowledgable Thunderbirds fan a good while to figure out who is who?...leaving the newcomers no hope of knowing what is going on..or the initial story behind Thunderbirds. This leads me to believe that the film is definatley intended for fans of the original series as you are thrown head first into a plot that dosen't explain itself or any of the main characters. The film also provides no real explanation of who International Rescue are...and major series characters such as Scott, Virgil, Gordon and John Tracy play such a small and insignificant role each character has no more than 2 to 8 lines in the entire film. Also some characters are not even spoken about...they just appear as a Tracy brother..so its guess work who is who at times.

The original series creator Gerry Anderson said in an interview after he saw it "that was the biggest load of crap I have ever seen" and I think that is a compliment to what I would of said it was quite possibly the most traumatising thing I have watched in my life time. A pure insult to the Thunderbirds legacy. It really takes the original series and rips it apart limb by limb, stamps up and down on it and leaves it in bits. If you loved the original series as a youngster..all this film will do is anger and confuse you. The original series although viewed as a childrens programme was very much picked up on by adults. However this is a very childish and silly approach to the Thunderbirds world..a very plastic, Americanized and prissy version..Imagine...Spy Kids...with a side order of rocket ships and planes, thats what this film is. It literally pays no respect to the original magic of Thunderbirds...something that made the series so special and unique to millions of people. The front cover of the DVD says it all...the three kids on the front (Alan, Tin Tin and Fermatt)..when the original series boxes drew you in as it included the Thunderbirds pilots stood there in there uniforms.

To try and explain all the silly changes would take far too long..and this review would bore you as much as the film does. For those of you who count yourselves as avid Thunderbirds fans..then I will explain a few differences to you.

*Jeff Tracy (now pilots Thunderbird 2 as opposed to never being involved in a rescue like in the series)
*Virgil Tracy (now pilots Thunderbird 3 as opposed to Thunderbird 2 in the series)
Alan Tracy (now a public schoolboy who isn't a member of International Rescue as opposed to Thunderbird 3 pilot in the series)
*FAB 1 Lady Penelope's Car (Now a Ford, not a Rolls-Royce...and now flys)
*Brains (now has an irritating stuttering son called Fermatt..who isn't a character in the series)
*Tin-Tin (Now a teenage school girl..as opposed to a grown young women and IR member in the series)
*The Hood (can now levetate and performe "Matrix" style moves...eyes also glow red...unlike yellow in the series)

There are PLENTY MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some may think I am nit picking..but if you are a series fan this is a massive insult..if you are not a series fan then this is just another poorly made rubbish kids film.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2006
Thunderbirds was one of the programmes that I as a '60's child grew up with and so I was apprehensive when I heard that a new live action production was in the making. I went to see this film with my two boys - who loved the action and werent a bit concerned with the lack of strings! I however was incredibly disappointed. I was expecting lots of action, yes, but the actors were, unfortunately, more wooden than the original puppets had been. Their teeth glowed in the ultraviolet light when T5 was attacked (did anyone else notice that?), and the characters were decidedly throwaway, I didnt care what happened to any of them. The only members of the cast who had any strength were Anthony Edwards and Sophia Miles, who gave the production the only sense of class and identity.

I enjoy Jonathon Frakes' work usually, but in this case I was glad to leave the theatre and have managed to avoid being in the room when my boys are watching the film at home!

Please Jonathon, dont stop directing but do consider the effect that re-working an old classic will have on the parents of the new generation.

I have awarded this film one star for its energy factor alone.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
One serious question "Did the writers even the watch the original Thunderbirds series?!!" I mean, many adaptation of television series are not the most faithful like Inspector Gadget, The Flintstones and Mr. Magoo but this, this was just awful. For any strong Thunderbirds/Gerry Anderson follower, you will feel slapped in the face.

The film was almost simply aimed at pre/early-teens. The characters seemed ridiculously young for their parts. Nearly all the characters in the original series were adults but here, I am sure that Lady Penelope was played by a 12-year-old. The CGI was a mess. The space background looked low budget and the rockets itshelves has lost a lot of its uniqueness. The plot, I am not even going there!

This is nonsence. If you are fan, then avoid at all costs. Instead, get the original puppets films from the 60s. This will only infuriate you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
My son loves it, I wanted the original puppet series!
Good escapist nonesense for the young and the toys are great to re enact the film. If your 30 plus though, get the original series instead!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2012
my 7 year old loved this set great play value for the very low price, toys are obviously a bit cheep but what else would you expect. son played for days, especially as we got a second hand island
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2007
As a huge fan of the Thunderbirds series in their original form, I was looking forward to the release of this film. I have to say I was bitterly disappointed. In fact it's the only time I've actually walked out of a film theatre in the middle of a film. Awful does not describe it well enough. It is absolutely dismal. I am a great fan of Jonathan Frakes (who directed this movie) in Star Trek, The Next Generation, but in directing this shambles, what was he thinking??? This film could best be described as a ridiculous unfunny comedy attempting to pillory the original series. If I could give this 0 stars I would. Don't waste your money on this insult to Gerry Anderson's original creation. You're better off buying the DVD set of the whole Thunderbirds series.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 2007
I grew up with Thunderbirds and for me at least Thunderbirds was about the machines and the rescue *not* the people and it was a *serious* business. Even though I was a child, I expected those machines to be driven by adults not children, and even though the program was made 'for children' it made few concessions to its audience.

Which is just about everything that makes the film such a failure. Where are the machines, where are the slow-mo lingering shots of TBird2 on its launch ramp and blasting off and all that other stuff. What we get is a film about teenage angst in the Tracey family which is emphatically *not* Thunderbirds. There are occasional sniffs of what the film could have been, but they all point up just how dire this effort is. If you're old enough to remember films made by the Childrens Film Foundation, then this owes more to those films than to Thunderbirds.

The people who made this film should have remembered that there were five stars of the original series. They were the Thunderbirds, their guest stars included whatever else happened to come crawling or sliding out of a TBird 2 pod. Human beings, their wants, needs and emotions coming a not very close third.

I'd find it hard to believe that anyone who's ever watched and enjoyed the TV series finding anything of merit in this film.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2005
I was brought up on Original Thunderbirds puppetry, I loved it along with Captain Scarlet and Stingray. Therefore I was very sceptical about Thunderbirds played by real actors.
I was sold as soon as the Menu came up, the theme music was right, the island was right and most importantly the rockets were all good.
Yes it's a modernised version, yes it's got a lot to live up to and yes it's quite cheesy (in a good way). But I found it a nice easy to watch film, quite tongue in cheek, larger than life characters (remember the originals were puppets).
I was also brought up on original Batman (with real people)and I hate the way the films have gone so dark and sinister, far away from the comic boot roots. So congratulations to the makers of Thunderbirds for keeping the film very much in touch with the originals.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 21 August 2010
I had avoided this film based on the bad reviews I'd read online. However, it was on television so I recorded it and watched it later with my 4 year old son. He has seen all of the original puppet series on DVD. He absolutely loved the new version. He saw awestruck at the flying scenes involving the Thunderbird machines. To him, he was flying in the cockpits alongside the Tracey brothers. He has asked to watch the film every day since and it is now clearly his favourite movie.

I can see why adults watching this film without children would dislike it. If I had first seen it on my own I would have been severely disappointed with it - the story is very childish. However, that is what kids want - and it works very well for them. Parents - if you want a safe, exciting film, give this a go.
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