Thunderbirds Are GO (1966)
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It's kids' entertainment for children aged from 7 to 700. The fact it lasted longer than a TV episode doesn't matter.
You get a great exciting story, lots of journeys into space in a blistering adventure that'll steam up Brains's glasses and set his bow tie spinning.
Saw the film again recently, this time with the eyes of an adult. Saw the dream sequence set in the night club. I was amazed at the attention to detail with The Shadows. Not only was each puppet almost a perfect model of Hank, Bruce, John and Brian, but the little Burns guitars were perfect in every detail, right down to the trade mark scroll head. Beautifully done. The singer was Cliff Richard Junior. Oh, well, you can't get everything right!
Combining it with some of the most fanciful designs of futuristic societies, they spawned a slew of shows including "Joe 90", about a boy with the ability to be programmed like a computer to do anything, from pilot a stolen jet fighter to perform brain surgery: "Fireball XL-5", a galactic adventure onboard a massive space cruiser, "Stingray", the tales of a super sub working for the World Aquatic Security Patrol ("W.A.S.P."), "Captain Scarlet", tales of an indestructible agent in a war against unseen Martian invaders called The Mysterons, et al.
Perhaps the Anderson's most famous and popular show in the hearts and minds of it's fans is "Thunderbirds". The background is simple. John Tracy, former astronaut and billionaire industrialist, decides to use his wealth to help the world by creating "International Rescue", a secret force of super vehicles designed by an in-house genius known simply as "Brain" and manned by his sons, each a superb athlete and trained expert in their fields (It is no doubt to some that his sons would have been Xtreme sports enthusiasts given the times). Brain's creations are the Thunderbirds, a set of highly specialized rescue and response vehicles each designed for specific purposes.
Thunderbird One is a hypersonic VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) vehicle used as a mobile command center. Thunderbird Two is a heavy lifter, capable of transporting pods containing rescue equipment to any location, from a subterranean "Mole" to the aquatic Thunderbird Four. Thunderbird Three is a space ship, launched from under the Tracy Island estate's pool (the vehicles launch sequences are themselves something to behold, since International Rescue is a secret organization, the deployment of the vehicles must also be the same, leading to some of the most unique ways of converting the Tracy Island compound into a launch & retrieval complex). As for Thunderbird Five, it is a monitoring station orbiting in space, listening in on the world's airwaves for the call.
A pink, armoured futuristic Rolls Royce bearing the license plate FAB-1 also come into play, as the property of one Lady Penelope, British aristocrat and undercover agent for International Rescue. Driven by a former resident of Wormwood Scrubs Prison known simply as Parker, it is bullet-proof,has an exceptionally heavy bit or ordinance under it's hood and is capable of Hydrofoil work on the water.
The way that they pull this off without it turning into a low rent kiddie show was from the contributions of such people as Derek Meddings, designer or the ships as well as the space craft and miniatures for movies like "Krull", "Moonraker", "Goldeneye" and many James Bond films. Barry Gray's scoring duties bring real tension and drama to the adventure.
Anderson was no slouch himself, creating many inventive effects shots using the highly detailed miniatures. This movie, surrounding the attempted sabotage and eventual rescue of a Mars exploration mission, displays the tools of Anderson's craft quite well. Look for another movie, Thunderbird 6, as well as newly digitally remastered releases of the original episodes on the shelves (and no, they did not digitally erase the wires). It is truly one of the best guilty pleasures from the past.
It also marked the end of Supermarionation, for with the exception of one puppet show ("Terrahawks"), Anderson's productions went into live actors, but still carried on the traditions of awesome miniatures with shows like "U.F.O", "Space:1999" and "Space Precinct".
Unfortunately,the big budget adaptation of the series, released in 2005, directed by Johnathan Frakes (Commander Will Riker of "Star Trek:The Next Generation"), was a muddled, childish piece of dreck which totally ruined the hopes of many aging fans of the original show for a decent and reverent homage to Anderson's vision, which probably explains his refusal to have anything to do with the movie.
Impressive ( if now dated ) special effects and model sequences, together with a strong script and interesting characters ( and of course, Barry Gray's wonderful music ) make this a real treat.
Landmark (?), i hear you ask. Well, yes. The whole Thunderbirds series was nothing but pure Hollywood at it's best; and this movie - as well as the one that came afterwards - only served to expand that tradition, whilst still maintaining the elements and formula that made it famous in the first place in 1965. The movie, has style, wit, incredible drama, and for its time, an astonishing view of the mid-21st.Century. Of course, most of it was pure fantasy and could never ever be real. The amount of times i've heard it said that the Thunderbirds machines couldn't even get off the ground is enormous. But that's ok, it's fantasy. And what good would a decent adventure be, if it didn't transport you out of reality and into a fascinating fantasy world where everything was different! As i say, the best Hollywood tradition. And of course, what made these productions so very special (at least to us Brits), was that 1. it was British, and 2. the heroes were all Puppets! Unbelievable to this day, i know. Yet as we are soon to be confronted by a million dollar live-action Thunderbirds epic, i think it is true to point out, that the main charm in the Thunderbirds adventures WAS the fact that they were acted by Puppets. So charming, so much a throwback to our own innocence (let alone a throwback to a much more innocent time when it was made); how could that be improved upon? The model work and special effects, especially the Zero-X Space-probe, are all extremely effective (as you would expect from Derek Meddings), and whether you are a Thunderbirds fan or not, it will be hard to knock this piece of Movie/TV history off it's perch. This movie being years ahead of its time, a great piece of fun and a fine addition to a classic series.
Sad to say, then, that the Thunderbirds movies retain little of the qualities that made the TV show such great fun. Perhaps it's the script: Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were far better leaving the scripting duties to other writers as they couldn't write decent dialogue for peanuts. They wrote Thunderbirds' debut episode, which has awful expository dialogue and lots of pointless sequences that go nowhere - but the episode as a whole is still a classic due to the frenetic atmosphere, the sense of doom and the fantastically imaginative rescue (it's the episode where the Fireflash plane lands on three little buggies). "Thunderbirds are Go!" is just horrendously boring. The first ten minutes are taken up with the Zero-X ship being assembled. Very slowly. Later on we have a long dream sequence where Alan imagines going out for a date with Lady Penelope, which features Cliff Richard and the gang having a sing-song (a musical segment in a Thunderbirds movie - what were they thinking?!) and the entire subplot of what the Zero-X astronauts get up to on Mars has no bearing on International Rescue at all.
The Tracy brothers get hardly anything to do in their own film (John, as is customary, has about 5 lines of dialogue, and Gordon just sits about looking glum - even everybody's favourite, Virgil, has barely any screen time at all). Nor, in fact, are the Thunderbird craft used all that often. In 100 minutes of film there's only one real rescue (featuring Thunderbird 2), with IR overseeing operations at the beginning of the film - which involves them sitting around and peering contentedly at control panels. You'd think with 100 minutes - double the length of one of the TV episodes - the Andersons could've plotted loads of thrilling situations and rescues that involved all the Tracy brothers and their Thunderbird machines, but it was not to be. Thunderbirds 1 and 3 swoop about for a few seconds. Thunderbird 4 isn't even in it (despite being on the DVD cover). Nor are the pod vehicles present - couldn't we even have had the Mole drilling away at something? It really is a tedious film. And that's not even mentioning Alan Tracy ignoring his girlfriend, Tin-Tin, and fantasising about Lady P instead. Way to be a good role-model for the kiddies, Alan. Then again he was a snot in the telly series too...
Maybe I'm being too hard on what is meant to be an inoffensive kids' film featuring explosions and great model work. But then again the TV show was a genuinely exciting and exhilarating programme, which, at its best, provided great entertainment. "Thunderbirds are Go!" has an uneventful plot, awful dialogue, no decent set-pieces, and - the cardinal sin - a boring rescue that doesn't even utilise the Thunderbird craft to the best of their abilities. It's difficult to imagine kids being wowed by it. You'd be far better off going back to the telly series. Show your kids the Fireflash episodes, or that brill one where giant alligators attacked a manor house. Heck, show them the daft one where Parker encouraged everybody to play bingo for half an hour. Both younger viewers and adults looking for warm nostalgia will be disappointed with "Thunderbirds are Go!" Avoid.
This is the first of two feature film versions of the `Thunderbirds' TV show. If you're on the wavelength of this type of entertainment (i.e., willing to ignore the fact that the characters are puppets, and to simply accept them as real), you may find this to be very engaging viewing.
`Thunderbirds are GO!' makes use of a good number of the sets and puppets from the TV show, and throws in some new constructions. It doesn't bother explaining who any of the characters are, however, so if you're not familiar with the series, it may be difficult to tell which characters are the `stars' and which play supporting roles. Regardless, you will see amazing model work and puppetry, and the very naturalistic, serious, story-conscious approach typical of Gerry Anderson's work.
The `Supermarionation' method was designed to allow the filmmakers total control over the look of the characters--impossible with real actors--and a means to depict spectacular action at the fraction of the cost it would take were it realized with conventional full-size sets. But the sets, models and puppets are lovingly crafted, and cost a pretty penny to produce; in fact, the original shows were the most expensive British television produced at that time.
If you're lucky enough to see this feature in its original widescreen version, you will see the Supermarionation look in beautiful frame compositions! I'd love to see this in a theatre sometime. Grab this up at your local video store if they have it!
The plot is honestly not worth discussing, and would have made for a truly awful film had it not been done with puppets and toys. It is a purely fantasy vision of the 21st century, though some of the technology used in it is no less ridiculous than - say - that which appeared in Star Trek Voyager. If you've seen the Thunderbirds TV show you already know exactly what to expect, and this film really amounts to two or three episodes stitched together with a very fine thread. Basically, the Thuderbirds are a family (all boys, of course, one has to wonder how they reproduced), and a couple of mystery women (one is an elegant but unpretty female James Bond type, and the other seems to serve no real purpose) who live in and run an International security base, and have incredible technical and piloting skills, allowing them to carry out very dangerous aerial missions at very high speed (it helps that they are made of wood, I guess). The central plot, if there is one, involves NASA's first manned space flight to Mars and two attempts (one sabotaged by a very unpleasant looking spy) and the second ... well... I won't spoil it. Of course, it's the Thunderbirds to the rescue in both cases.
As a rule, I do not like masks, elaborate costumes and puppets. In fact, I remember despising the Thunderbirds TV show when I was a very young hardcore sci fi fan, because of the scary bobbleheaded characters and the poor use of the sci-fi genre. I was too young to understand what was really going on. What saves this film for me today is its very good sense of aesthetics. The sets are interesting and detailed. Even the monsters (occupying a very short segment about 2/3rds of the way through) are innovative and interesting. Despite the fact that the special effects are ridiculous, you keep watching because its fascinating to see how the film-makers accomplish each effect. You also keep watching because even though the voice talent is unrelentingly average the animated marionettes manage to do better body language than many contemporary flesh and blood actors.
I am not sure Thunderbirds is a film I will see again, but I am glad I saw it once.
Now I want to seek out episodes of the Thunderbirds series to see if they live up to the movie. I'm also curious about a more recent live-action effort of Gerry Anderson's that just came out on DVD: Space Precinct.
And I definitely need to watch Thunderbirds Are GO a few more times to see if it lives up to my first impression!
(It's now a few days later & Barry Gray's music has been stuck in my head the whole time!)
The first 10 minutes of this movie sets the tone - the slow and boring construction of a martian spaceship just before it takes off from earth (although it is amazing to think it predated the current space shuttle concept by twenty odd years). The rest of the movie plays like an overextended TV episode. The reduction of well-loved characters to caricatures is a disappointment. For instance, Jeff Tracy (the father and chief of the International Rescue organisation) is just plain cranky and unreasonable (and annoyingly keeps saying Thunderbirds Are Go even when no-one else is around). Scott and Virgil (the brothers who are the main pilots) are bossy and a walking doormat respectively. Gordon Tracy seems to be channeling Adam Sandler, and Alan (the hero of the piece) is so petulant he'd put your 12 year old sister to shame. Other characters have had personality enemas (particularly Lady Penelope).
But there are three really outstandingly bad parts. Alan has a dream sequence where Cliff Richard and the Shadows do a little music video'. Forget about the 60's being the decade of rebellion even by Sir Cliff's standards this song is terrible. Then there is the crash of the giant spaceship into the earth. The crash looks like a model hitting cardboard houses'. Even the TV episodes got the explosions right (by filming at high speed and then slowing down to make the bangs look real' and heavy'). Finally, the last scene is just bone cringingly embarrassing, even for kids. I suppose things have changed in the last forty years, but are we really suppose to believe that a 21year old astronaut is still treated by his family like he's 12? And if so, why was he given the central task to complete a dangerous rescue instead of one of his older brothers? (And why did he use a screwdriver to secure wires when twisting the ends together would have done?).
See the TV show instead.
"Thunderbirds Are GO," the first of the two, deals with a manned mission to Mars which the Hood (International Rescue's recurring nemesis) tries to sabotage, but our heroes give the astronauts help both going there and on the return journey. The model work and special effects remain impressive, but Scott, Gordon, Alan, Gordon and John never defeat their real foes this time around:
1. With or without his wife Sylvia, Gerry Anderson's strengths were never in the writing department, and to his credit he knew it, which was why apart from the pilot episodes of his shows (and a few exceptions, such as the entire second season of "Supercar" and a couple of episodes of "Stingray") he left the actual writing to the likes of Dennis Spooner, Tony Barwick, Donald James et al. But he and the missus wrote the movie, and the weak pacing and terrible dialogue hobble the tale.
2. The movie's second act is an endless dream sequence (a staple of most Anderson shows - though tellingly, never of "Thunderbirds") featuring Alan Tracy, the most whiny and least appealing of the brothers. This is a three-time loser: it serves no real purpose outside of padding the running time, it stops the movie dead in its tracks in a manner not seen again until the Michael Jackson song in "Free Willy 2," and it provides the movie's official low point - an awful song from Cliff Richard (er, "Cliff Richard Jr.") and the Shadows, with a music video to boot!
All Gerry Anderson/"Thunderbirds" fans should see this movie once, and then go back to the previous 32 stories. (But the live-action military band performing the theme music at the end is a nice touch.)
It beggars belief to see that there are individuals that are today criticizing the standards of what is fast approaching animation that is an entire working lifetime ago.
Having been a childhood fan of Fireball XL5, I watched the 'ZERO X' (Thunderbirds are go)film at the ABC Cinema in Birkenhead when it first came out. I remember the basic storey line and still appreciate the quality of a film from my childhood. Whilst Equally noting its standards by those of todays it still remains good for young children today.
Long may these films remain available in accessible archive records for all to access.
I never worried too much about "The Thunderbirds" when they were on TV in the 60s. I usually watched something else.
But seeing this picture up on the silver screen with the soundtrack coming through a decent sound system it's just superb.
I went along purely out of curiosity. It appeared on a double bill with "Thunderbird 6" which wasn't quite as good but still fun. BUT .... "Thunderbirds Are Go" was WONDERFUL !
With the live-action remake hitting the cinemas, I decided to avoid the kids in the cinema by watching this original feature instead. Those complaining about how the remake is not any good because of the fact that Anderson was not hands-on involved should perhaps check this out as it is proof that a feature-length version of the series was not any easier for the creator himself! I sat to this just content to see those great ships used well in a reasonable story but, I'm sad to say, that I didn't even get that. The film leaves it for about 20 minutes before the Thunderbirds even get involved and then they only really do anything of merit in the final 10 minutes. In terms of actual good content, I reckon you could have got an episode out of this easily enough but no more than that and that's the problem. The plot is padded at the start with a very slow take off of Zero-X, in the middle with a terrible dream sequence and towards the end with a laughable mission on Mars!
The Andersons' are entirely to blame because they wrote the script themselves and produced a padding piece of nonsense that lacks any sense of excitement, pace or, god help us, fun! The dream sequence is a good example a silly, overlong section that only pads the film and exposes us to Cliff Richard and the Shadows; however the actual mission to Mars is equally as bad with aliens being settled on for the reason a rescue is needed at the end (however the aspect of flame-throwing aliens on Mars is not even mentioned after this scene!). This is the film's great failing, it just cannot sustain the running time at all and most of the time it is very apparent padding that only frustrates personally I think anyone else could have come up with a better plot for the film that would have seen more rescues and use of the Thunderbird ships. It is annoying because, as a child, I used to watch the show and I think the ships and the models were all cool however they were all very poorly used and most of the screen time seemed to be given over to the anonymous crew of the Zero-X and Lady Penelope.
The cast do reasonable voice work but never manage to bring emotion to their delivery something that could really have helped the poor story get a bit of tension into it. Although the song is awful, it is at least momentarily amusing to see puppets of Cliff Richard and the Shadows but, let me stress, it's only momentarily amusing. The only other voice of note is that of the late Bob Monkhouse, but he has little to do and it's one you have to listen for to catch it.
Overall, even fans of the series will feel let down by this film. It is full of ineffective padding and essentially relegates the all-action thunderbirds into third place in their own movie! The writing is awful and will send fans rushing back to their boxsets and will leave the rest of the viewers reaching for the remote control. A very poor film in the place of what should have been a cool, breezy and fun big screen outing for fans.
I never saw the film at the time and when my wife bought me a DVD copy at a garage sale I was awash with nostalgia. A feeling of warm happiness that lasted for at least 7 minutes into the film... my god, it's boring! After a while the only entertainment value I could drag out of this stupendously dull, overpadded TV episode was spotting new ways the filmmakers avoided having to have their characters walk anywhere. During the TV shows walking was suggested by having the character puppets jog up and down as they moved forward. Fine within the limited frame of a TV screen (especially the scritty little things we peered at back then) but a similar motion on the big screen would, at best, look ludicrous and, at worst, induce motion sickness. In a film where supersonic aircraft stay rigidly in the centre of the frame having the "actors" bounce around like ping pong balls causing pre-teen movie goers to vomit over their neighbours would be distressing.
I enjoyed the crash at the beginning of the film plus the characters and machines from the television series.
If you enjoyed this as much as I did then check out other classic puppet and doll flicks, Meet the Feebles 1989, Puppet Master 1989, Puppet Master 3: Toulon's Revenge 1991, Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter 1994, Demonic Toys 1992, Disaster 2006, Childs Play 1988, Bride of Chucky 1998, PIN 1988, Love Object 2003, Lars and the Real Girl 2007, May 2002, Z.P.G. 1972, Ted 2012, Dead Silence 2007 and Tourist Trap 1979.
I caught this film on a movie channel, and was surprised how much I liked it. It is really bad - but in a very clever way. They end every sentence with `F.A.B.' like that is supposed to mean "over and out" but you know they are just trying to be 60's hip.
The spaceships look great and the characters are hilarious. Check it out and get ready to laugh along with your friends.
Filmed in "SUPERMARIONATION", this film is a tribute to the
masterful use of scale models and "slot cars" as well as
brilliantly executed puppet design/construction. That and the exciting plots made the series such a hit with kids like me.
This full-length, action packed, blockbuster is a must see for any kid from pre-school to geriatric intensive care!
All hype aside, I enjoy watching this (and the 1968 release: "Thunderbird 6") over and over when I feel let down by cable tv programming.
Also check out the 32 episodes of the TV series.
It is an entertaining picture on the whole, though not as good as it could be - there's no 'Thunderbird 4', for example, 'Brains' is hardly featured, and 'Kyrano' and 'Grandma' nowhere to be seen. The Tracys take an awfully long time to enter the plot ( for the first fifteen minutes it looks as if we're watching 'Zero X - The Movie'. International Rescue doesn't have much to do. Perhaps it would have been better to have opened the picture with an unrelated prologue featuring I.R. in action before moving onto the main story.
But the good points outweigh the bad - the special effects are marvellous ( several of the crew went on to work on the 'Superman' and 007 movies ), and there's a delightful sequence where Alan Tracy dreams he is having a night out at the 'Swinging Star' club with Lady Penelope, and the cabaret turns out to be none other than - wait for it - Cliff Richard Junior! ( The Shadows also appear in puppet form ). Gerry Anderson later recounted that, at the premiere, a girl in the audience shrieked with excitement when the Cliff puppet appeared on screen! Lady Penelope's Rolls - 'F.A.B.-1' - preempts James Bond's Lotus Esprit in 'The Spy Who Loved Me' by a decade by converting into an amphibious vehicle, the M.E.V.'s journey across the Martian landscape is genuinely eerie, and the rock snakes are indeed nightmarish. Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's script ingeniously combines elements of spy thrillers, science fiction, and disaster movies. Among the voice artists is a familiar name - Bob Monkhouse! Barry Gray's music is awesome - the theme that accompanies the assembling of the Zero X at the start of the movie is worthy of Elmer Bernstein.
So, with all these things going for it, why wasn't it a hit on its initial release? Anderson thinks it was because not enough was done to promote the fact that it was an original story, and not a compilation of television episodes ( like the 'Man From U.N.C.L.E.' pictures ). Perhaps the Thunderbirds phenomenon had peaked, and interest was on the wane when it opened. Whatever the reason, it is a shame as it deserved greater success ( the crew of the 'Zero X' went on to feature regularly in the pages of 'T.V. Century 21' comic ). Nevertheless, a sequel - 'Thunderbird 6' - appeared two years later, to be met with a equally lukewarm response. More recently, in 2004, there was the ill-fated live-action movie starring Bill Paxton and directed by Jonathan Frakes ( of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' fame ). It was not all bad ( Sophia Myles was a terrific 'Lady Penelope' ) but Anderson's lack of involvement doomed the project from the start.
Things To Look Out For - it is 2066, and yet Jeff can be seen reading 'The News Of The World', a tabloid rag that folded last year ( not before time either! ). Perhaps Rupert Murdoch Junior is in charge of News Intergalactic?
And where else would you see a pink Rolls Royce orbiting Mars? F.A.B.!
And I remember so much of it - well, except the fantasy nightclub bit which I clearly slept through, though in many ways it is one of the most impressive bits with very clever puppets of The Shadows and Cliff Richard which was probably aimed at older views (9-10 year olds, maybe).
Seriously it is very cleverly done - if the special effects had been associated with anything other than a "kids films" it would undoubtedly have a higher reputation. The model sequences are really superb for their time and even stand up very well today. The action in these sequences may seem slow to modern eyes it is clearly designed for an audience used to watching long TV broadcasts of US rocket launches and the speed and technical babble would have seemed very "realistic".
The puppets are rather more limited. It is amusing to see the lengths that the producers go to in order to avoid them walking (there is a reason for all the sliding chairs and desks beyond appearing "futuristic"!). However unlike the TV series, you can't see the strings!
The story? Well, it hardly matters - in many ways it is just an elongated episode from the TV series with a larger budget, and criticism might be that anyone not used to the TV series would find it very strange indeed... but why would they be watching it in the first place?
To modern adult eyes this may all seem touchingly, amusingly, naff - but it is worth remembering that it is not aimed at adults, and that a recent revival of the TV series was very popular. Modern pre-teen fans would still love it.
Rating it is difficult. For as Thunderbirds fan of any age this is pure gold - a straight 10 - but for anyone else confusing and even a little dull.
I'd always wondered about that: Here was the first big screen adventures for the clever motorized puppets that made Anderson's shows so special, and the film seems to abruptly forget who the real stars were. It wasn't the puppets themselves but the marvelous rocket powered machines they flew. Just like the U.S.S. Enterprise was the real hero of "Star Trek", the Thunderbird machines themselves were the "stars" of Anderson's show, and yet they get surprisingly little screen time in their big epic cinematic debut.
Instead, the focus of the project is the Zero-X, an ungainly interplanetary rocket ship that was introduced in an effort to bridge the gap between "The Thunderbirds" series and Anderson's followup, the much more grown up and dark "Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons", a show that I never quite warmed to. In THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO the Zero-X and it's crew of astronauts is sent to the first manned voyage to Mars, where about all they do is manage to rile up the local populace of "Rock Snakes" who proceed to hurl fireballs at the Earthlings and chase them off. The ship would be back in the Captain Scarlet series to do more or less the same thing, according to the Wikipedia pages devoted to the Anderson franchises, with the movie's big set of Glenn Field Spaceport also playing a recurring role.
Meanwhile, the Thunderbird crafts themselves serve more as a Greek chorus to usher in the action of the film as they first escort the Zero-X into Earth orbit after a scurrilous sabotage attempt by the series' running villain, the Hood. And then they are brought back in for the conclusion where the Zero-X develops the inevitable malfunction that triggers the traditional Thunderbirds race against time to save the astronauts trapped on board from certain doom. All of it ends in another big colossal Gerry Anderson explosion that wipes out an entire (evacuated) town after some appropriate puppet heroics messing about with the power cables while the standard Thunderbird cast watches from a distance with great concern.
The film is exceedingly well made, and those with a taste for Anderson and Derek Meddings' particular brand of mechanized miniatures combined with animatronic puppetry will of course be delighted by the results. Non-fans of the series will probably be entertained as well, and there is even an amusingly clever musical interlude featuring Cliff Richard Jr. that feels like it was added for the hell of it. Well, why not? Especially if the Thunderbirds aren't really going to the focus of the proceedings. To a degree it really is just an extended episode with the Tracy family, the movie assumes viewers having a certain familiarity with the Thunderbirds' universe and usual devices. Explanation is tossed aside in favor of just getting to the action, and for a puppet movie there's plenty of it, even if the wrong machine is the one that gets the majority of the attention.
If it sounds like I'm annoyed by this rest assured that I adore this movie, used to get a genuine kick out of horrifying an ex-girlfriend with it from time to time, and it is indeed quite true that to really appreciate how majestic of a production it is you need to see it in the full widescreen -- something that's a bit of a pickle, since the film was shot in an ultra-wide 2:74:1 Techniscope ratio that may not come across adequately on even a contemporary widescreen TV display (a fact not helped by the DVD being presented in a 2:35:1 16x9 ratio, and the older VHS versions show a miserable pan/scan compression that utterly ruins the widescreen compositions).
It's still a treat however, boys over the age of about six will find this to be more addicting than Coco Puffs, and before you know it they will be clamoring for the "Thunderbirds Megaset" featuring all of the original full length TV adventures. And then they'll want to see Captain Scarlet, and Stingray and Supercar, and eventually UFO & Space: 1999 ... AND WHO COULD BLAME THEM? It's some of the most miraculous "family" entertainment ever devised, with even a downright grownup left turn with Anderson's under-appreciated JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN. More than forty years later the material is still fresh and vital and capable of winning over new audiences with their positive, upbeat vision of the future where technology and humans work together to save the world. The kids might be a bit confused by all those rocket fumes though -- hardly a "green" vision of tomorrow, but then again this was the 1960s we were talking & about nobody gave a damn back then about a little jet fuel being consumed.
7/10: You KNOW you want your own copy. Say you got it for the kids and she'll let it pass.