If fans of the original television series can get over the fact that there are NO PUPPETS used in the making of the new movie, then they may be able to sit back and enjoy the squeaky clean cheesy-ness of ‘Thunderbirds’, the modernized, live action movie that opens Friday. Despite the radical change of looks, the ‘Thunderbirds’ movie landed in the good hands of those who ‘get it’ and appreciate the meaning of ‘Thunderbirds’ are GO!
Years of exploring fantasy space as Number One on the Starship Enterprise, has served Jonathan Frakes well. As the director of ‘Thunderbirds’, Frakes is some one who understands how extreme hardware and noble heroics mix well together for some wholesome family fun. Under Frakes direction he introduces us to a refreshed world of the ‘Thunderbirds’, where every thing appears to have been dreamt up by the twelve-year-old inside us all.
Shining spots of the movie for me include the animated title sequence with the hippest artwork I’ve seen this year and the very blonde Sophia Myles as Penelope. The perfect in pink super agent who steps in to asset the heroes. ‘Thunderbirds’ also provides us with a bad guy worth remembering, the character known as ‘the Hood’.
The rest of the cast does its best to keep up with the genius Ben Kingsley who whole-heartedly inhabits his role as the super villain. Bizarre cat eyes that appear whenever he uses his physic powers to command his evil plans accent Kingsley’s natural dry creepinees.
The most annoying element of the movie turns out to be the ‘Thunderbirds’ themselves, led by the father of the Tracy family, played by Bill Paxton. However we are spared from spending too much screen time with him, as he and the rest of the regular Thunderbird team spend most of the movie floating near death in Thunderbird Five, a space station that will lose all its life support unless the junior ‘Thunderbirds’ crew saves the day.
‘Thunderbirds’ echoes the 'Spy Kids' series in that it knows what it is and doesn’t pull back from being extra sappy or shy away from indulging in over the top special effects geared towards selling toy-etic action heroes, (appearing in a toy store near you). And if this kind of product branding is your thing then a rainy day matinee of 'Thunderbirds' is for you.
Looking forward to re-watching the original puppet driven ‘Thunderbirds’, for Movie Magazine this Purple.
© 2004 - Purple - Air Date: 7/28/04
USA / UK - 2004