2004 Set of all 5 Thunderbirds and DVD BANDAI
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This live-action, big-budget family blockbuster brings Gerry Anderson's cult classic 1960s puppet sci-fi TV series to the big screen. Directed by Jonathan Frakes, the film follows the intergalactic adventures of the Tracy family, headed by former astronaut Jeff Tracy (Bill Paxton), who lives with his five sons on the top-secret Tracy Island, which also houses the headquarters of the top-secret International Rescue organisation. When villainous criminal 'The Hood' (Ben Kingsley) orchestrates an elaborate plan to remove Jeff and his four eldest sons temporarily from home, so that he can invade the island and attempt to steal some of the organisation's most valuable equipment, it is left to Jeff's youngest son Alan (Brady Corbet) to save the day...
The deep love that young boys feel for planes, cars, and gadgets is the driving energy of Thunderbirds, a live-action movie based on the British puppet TV show of the 1960s. Bill Paxton (Near Dark, One False Move) plays Jeff Tracy, billionaire ex-astronaut, who's turned his family of heroic sons into a crack rescue squad, zooming to danger and saving people using super-sophisticated vehicles. The youngest boy (Brady Corbet) hasn't yet joined the team and resents every moment he's not in uniform---but he gets his chance when a malevolent villain called the Hood (Ben Kingsley, slumming a bit from Gandhi and Sexy Beast) traps the rest of the family on a crippled space station and turns the Thunderbird vehicles to his evil purposes. Expect bright colors, clumsy dialogue, and a less-than-thrilling plot, but many kids will enjoy the fantasy of a secret island, rocket ships, and flying cars. --Bret Fetzer --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.See all Product description
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HARTY FARTY PLOT. BUT WORTH ADDING TO YOUR MOVIE COLLECTION.!
I hope that you will excuse me while I give you some background.
In 1965 a genious called Gerry Anderson began production on a children's show called Thunderbirds - THUNDERBIRDS - Complete collection of 32 episodes incl extras - dig. remastered - 8 disc DVD Box set. Over the two years 32 episodes were made - 26 episodes in 1965 and 6 in 1966 - before production politics interferred and Mr Anderson decided to stop production of the show. Forty plus years later the puppet series is cult amongst adults, and popular with the young again.
In 2004 this Thunderbirds film was released. I'll be honest - I can live with an Americanised Tracey family, even though they were originally American there was still something very British about the way they interacted. With all the American money involved, I wouldn't have expected anything else.
Unfortunately the film makers (according to Director Jonathan Frakes's commentary and interviews in related articles and books) changed the script the day before filming started from the kidnapping and rescue of one of the Tracy boys to the current story. It would have had a more mature Alan Tracy rather than stroppy teenager. A second version of the script would have seen the Tracy family trying to recover important items of national security (sort of like Spy Kids ). All alternative version were abandoned for this one, unfortunately.
At the start of the film we see a daydreaming Alan Tracy (Brady Corbet) wishing he was a member of the Thunderbirds, aka International Rescue, over the next 5 or so minutes it is established that he is the youngest son of Thunderbirds leader Jeff Tracy (Bill Paxton). Jeff Tracy has 5 sons, each one is named after an astronaut from Mercury Seven, Scott Glenn(Philip Winchester), John Carpenter (Lex Shrapnel), Virgil Grissom (Dominic Colenso), Gordon Cooper (Ben Torgersen) and Alan.
The main thing that ticked me off was the replacement of Lady Penelope's iconic pink Rolls Royce for a naff Ford bubble car, that turns into a plane and a boat - at least the director admits it was nothing more than product placement. Lady Penelope is played by Sophia Myles and Parker by Ron Cook.
Brains (Anthony Edwards) has gained a son called Fermat (Soren Fulton) who is about the same age as Alan Tracy.
The eternal enemy of the Thunderbirds, The Hood (Sir Ben Kingsley) is kept on as the enemy of choice for the film, thankfully. However, Tintin played by Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical (Encore Edition)  fame (who I found the most annoying child of the entire film) has inherited some of her Uncles special powers.
One I stopped looking at the film as Thunderbirds, and started looking at it as an American adventure film, I really enjoyed it. I do the same with the Geraldine McEwan versions of the Miss Marple stories - I try to forget that they are supposed to be Agatha Christies Jane Marple and think of them as the old lady investigates.
It has some good young actors playing the Tracy boys, in fact I believe that the entire film was let down by the wholesale changes that were made to the script.
Tracy Island was a wonder to behold and TB1, TB2, TB3, TB4 and TB5 were great representations of the machines which I had grown up with. For that I thank Mr Frakes. It is a shame that such considerations were not made for the script or for FAB1.
On the good side this was apparently meant to be a vehicle for the Baldwin brothers - thank goodness that idea fell by the wayside.
It is a great shame that this film was not handled better, but it is still a good piece of switch off the brain, sit back and enjoy entertainment. There are a good number of extras, many about the TB vehicles and far too short with the actors who played the characters in tiny little boxes. There are a number of short featurettes about Lady P but not a single one about the Tracy family. No outtakes, and no cast commentary.
The good points are few and far between. One of them is that the film is mostly in focus. The other is they all got to go to the Seychelles, which looks nice.
The bad points: where to start? Ben Kingsley's career lowpoint performance? The aforementioned inept comedy relief sidekicks who would disgrace the Children's Film Foundation at its worst? The almost complete lack of action or effects in a $70m sci-fi film? The terrible script, the lifeless direction, the odious moralising? But most of all is the fact that the film is so patronising in every possible way. Forget the life lessons and off the peg sentiment, this is a movie aimed straight at the under-eights by people who know they're making a kid's movie and are constantly talking down to their intended audience, throwing in fifth-rate jokes and routines that would insult most children who had only recently mastered the art of speech. This film could replace being sent to bed early without their dinner as parents' favourite punishment for kids.
At one time the biggest flop in British film history (it didn't even cover the cost of prints and marketing), it's just about watchable if only as an object lesson in how NOT to make a summer movie.
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