The people behind the Thunderbirds movie made two colossal blunders in bringing the cult 1960s British puppet television series. The first was to marginalize the wonderful vehicles that give the film its name to supporting roles at the beginning and ending of the film. The second was to alienate its core rabid fan base by making a bad Spy Kids knock-off. Why do this when Spy Kids ruined itself? Kids today will have no concept of the old Thunderbirds series. It will primarily appeal to nostalgic adults, who will cringe in horror at this lame attempt at a family film. So essentially, this is a film made for nobody. There are a lot of explosions and color in Thunderbirds, but everything is so incredibly boring. It looks like an obvious attempt to create a franchise, but when the quality of nearly everything in Thunderbirds is so bad, it's hard seeing a second film even under the rosiest of conditions.
The Thunderbirds are an elite rescue squad led by Jeff Tracy (Bill Paxton, Club Dread, Spy Kids 3D). Tracy and his photogenic yet completely uninteresting and anonymous sons pilot the Thunderbirds, a group of five fantastic vehicles. Nobody knows who they are, yet it shouldn't be too hard to figure out given the Tracys live on an island and are fantastically wealthy. Tracy's youngest son, Alan (Brady Corbet, Thirteen) wants to be a Thunderbird, but Jeff feels he is too young cannot shoulder the responsibility. It's frustrating, because he has this huge secret that only a few of his friends know. Hey, why not a movie to prove he's ready? Screenwriters Peter Hewitt (Thunderpants), William Osborne (The Scorpion King, Kevin of the North) and Michael McCullers (Austin Powers in Goldmember, Undercover Brother) slap together a lame story that lets Alan prove to his father that yes, he is ready.
The Hood (Ben Kingsley, House of Sand and Fog, Tuck Everlasting) wants to steal the Thunderbirds, and strands the Tracy in space. The only person left is Alan. Together with his techie geek friend Fermat (Soren Fulton, Van Wilder, Face to Face), and the unfortunately named, hot (but platonic) friend Tin Tin (Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Thirteen), along with some backup from Lady Penelope (Sophia Myles, Underworld, From Hell), Alan, a perfectly normal kid will somehow manage to thwart the Hood, who has supernatural powers. The unrealistic proportions of the story fit pretty well with a kids movie, but director Jonathan Frakes (Clockstoppers, Star Trek: Insurrection) does such a bad job with bad material that watching Thunderbirds is a chore.
Kingsley hams it up for his role, and he is probably just slumming for a paycheck. Anthony Edwards (Northfork, Jackpot) is pretty painful as Fermat's father, and everybody else is middling to boring. The overriding problem behind Thunderbirds is that there is no sense of fun. Frakes is trying to make a big action movie that is also a child-appropriate film with a moral, and in doing so forgets to put any emotion into the film. Sure the Thunderbirds look great, and there are lots of brightly colored gadgets, but how good is that when nobody cares a whit about Alan and his friends?
|Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.|
|1 hour, 27 minutes, Rated PG for intense action sequences.|
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