Based on the 1960's marionette television show, "Thunderbirds" brings the family of heroes to a new generation. Unlike the television show, the movie features real actors and little else in the way of entertainment.
Jonathan Frakes, a.k.a. William T. Riker on "Stark Trek: The Next Generation," directs this uninspired adaptation with unclear intentions. After all, the original show was never very good to begin with and the only reason some people still recognize the name is that it is now known as "that lame marionette show." Furthermore, any fans of the show are now probably in their fifties and sixties, whereas this movie is exclusively made for kids around the age of 10. Ever since the popular "Spy Kids" hit theaters, a slew of clones have been unleashed upon us, including "Catch that Kid" and other uninteresting concepts. Though I am not in the target audience, I found "Spy Kids" pretty entertaining - and "Thunderbirds" anything but.
Now out on DVD, "Thunderbirds" has the Tracy family, a.k.a. International Rescue, a.k.a. the Thunderbirds, traveling into space to save one of their brothers. While "out of the area," an arch-nemesis, played by poor Ben Kingsley (what is he thinking?), takes over their secret island and strands them on their space station, with the oxygen understandably fading away. It is now up to young teenager Alan Tracy (Brady Corbet), who isn't officially a Thunderbird, and his two young friends, to save the day. So, in other words, the Thunderbirds are only in the movie for about ten minutes, and the rest of the story is devoted to a bunch of young kids trying to take on a villain who has supernatural powers. Enough said.
Again, I'm not in the target audience and "Thunderbirds" does have its fair share of lighthearted action that would appeal to young kids, but compared to some other family action-adventure movies, "Thunderbirds" really has little going for it. There's nothing here we haven't seen before and more than anything else, it just isn't very entertaining. "Spy Kids" had some fun adventure but also had plenty of jokes; "Thunderbirds" isn't very funny. It is a straight-forward adventure film that even young kids will lose interest in.
The DVD does feature some nice behind-the-scenes looks at the making of the film, though, if you're like me and didn't like the movie, you'd just as well get the DVD out of your player as soon as possible. The features take an inside look at the action sequences, the vehicles used throughout the film, set design, Lady Penelope's pink wardrobe. Jonathan Frakes also provides a feature commentary. It would have been nice if more footage from the original television series had been included for comparison.
Some kids might find something in "Thunderbirds," but it isn't made for the majority of audiences. It lacks the cleverness, wit and excitement that other family action films have managed to attain. "Thunderbirds" will easily be forgotten in half a year's time.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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