The Tracy boys and their flying mean machines are back to do battle with master criminal The Hood in this big-screen adventure based on the beloved 1960s TV series.from£4.09 | RRP:
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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...
Average Rating for Thunderbirds  - 2 out of 5
(based on 1 user reviews)
Thunderbirds Nick Haysom
Jonathan Frakes' slick new Thunderbirds is for the instant-gratification generation. Some lazy plotting sees The Hood disable space-station Thunderbird 5 simply by firing a missile at it and, conveniently, all the flying Tracys zoom to the rescue, enabling him to occupy Tracy Island and plot a series of audacious bank robberies using its hidden technology. Only Alan and his pals, Fermat, the boy genius son of Brains, and Tin-Tin, daughter of Jeff Tracy's manservant Kirano, stand in his way.
Eschewing the normal "how it all began" approach, the film introduces us to this future via an eye-filling stylised-cartoon title-sequence, which cleverly depicts the Thunderbird craft going about their business whilst Alan takes the school bus and a funky version of the famous march plays on the soundtrack. In fact, this live-action version turns out to be more of a cartoon than the original ever was, a shiny-clean world of Teletubbies Day-Glo colours where the sleek CGI effects flow indistinguishably into the smooth limbs and jut-jaws of the heroes. The sons, with their matching jumpsuits but varied hairstyles (one even has a quiff just like that other famous Tin-Tin), look barely old enough to be in long trousers and have all the gravitas of a boy band. Alan is even played by an actor called Brady.
Although much of the original concept is here in one form or another, it has a pre-digested quality and a spray-on flip hipness, right down to the forgettable slangy dialogue: "You mean we're good to go?" says Jeff. Still, this is a PG film and younger children should be sufficiently diverted, given the short running time, Frakes' breathless direction, and three engaging young leads.
Unaccompanied adults, however, may feel uneasy, especially those who grew up with the series. There are undeniable pleasures, such as references to that future history: the monorail crossing the Thames, Lady Penelope's transmitter teapot, favourite vehicles like the Mole and the Firefly, and the Vault of Death in which are heroes become trapped.
There is Sophia Myles, sparkling as a smart and sexy Lady P, ever-immaculate in designer gear, so nonchalant she can get a stylish makeover in between foiling villains, albeit one which turns her into a high-kicking Emma P (of The Avengers). Matching her is Ron Cook's unflappable Parker. The pair's witty banter was given extra spice by comedy writer Richard Curtis ("The Hood? Sounds like an alias to me, m'lady.").
There is Sir Ben Kingsley himself as The Hood, able to impart resonance even to such deathless lines as, "The Thunderbirds are here - kill them all!", and there is the droll way in which the same reporter (played by Frakes' wife, Genie Francis) is always on hand the minute a disaster occurs.
But those fans will despair at the sidelining of the Tracy boys, majestic Thunderbirds, and meticulously-plotted disaster-and-rescue scenario in favour of a commonplace coming-of-age tale of three resourceful kiddies; the ridiculous comedy-fight sequences; the reducing of Brains to sexually-harassed comic relief; the mobile-phone masts on Tracy Island (Jeff, how could you?); the horrible end-title song by (the aptly named) Busted - more suited to a sit-com - with its idiotic refrain of "the boys are back in town"; and of course the junking of the 'iconic' pink Rolls-Royce in favour of a nondescript pink Ford with wings.
The DVD has some attractive extras: an urbane and informative solo commentary from the director; featurettes on key elements such as Tracy Island, Lady P's wardrobe, and FAB1; fact files; and even a game, 'The Hood vs Thunderbirds'.
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