Starring: Bill Paxton, Anthony Edwards, Ben Kingsley
Director: Jonathan Frakes
Running Time: 95 mins
Thunderbirds is an American film, based on the original TV series, following young Alan Tracy as he attempts to help the Thunderbirds once they become stranded in space, and the evil Hood invades Tracy Island.
Now, this is quite a lot of fun, and there are a lot of strong points that you can find in this film, so there’s a real possibility that it could have been a properly good action film. However, the excessively kid-centred plot and tone turns this into one of the cheesiest things you will ever see, and ruins the excitement of the plot as a whole.
Let’s start on that. In the original series, Alan Tracy is already a Thunderbird, piloting Thunderbird 3, so it’s already a stupid idea to turn him into a 15 year old boy, and what’s worse, an incredibly whiny and irritating one.
What’s more is that Alan and his fellow kids, both random people who had no part in the original series, get way more screen time than anyone that you actually care about, turning the whole thing into a silly kids’ movie instead of a potentially fun action flick.
The dialogue is on the whole very cheesy, and the tone of the story is far too happy-go-lucky and farcical. For example, in some of the fight scenes, rather than making it exciting, it’s all really goofy, using sound effects that sound like they’re out of Benny Hill or some baby show on Cbeebies.
However, apart from the cheesiness, goofiness and childishness of the whole thing, there are lot of positives here. For one, the performances by the adult actors aren’t half bad. Sophia Myles is excellent as Lady Penelope, Bill Paxton is pretty cool as Jeff Tracy, and Ben Kingsley, although it’s odd to see him try it at times, its quite entertaining as The Hood.
The one thing that really deserves credit here, however, is the visual effects. For 2004, they’re brilliant, and still great to watch now. From the epic animated opening sequence to the designs of Tracy Island and the Thunderbird ships and some of the more explosive action sequences, this is a really good-looking and slick film.
Overall, though, this still gets a 6.5 from me, because it’s just far too cheesy and child-friendly to be exciting. Maybe with a little bit more 13 in the PG, a reboot of this wouldn’t be too bad, but it just doesn’t compare at all to the original puppeted series.