Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

THUNDERBIRDS


THUNDERBIRDS (2004). Director: Jonathan Frakes.

The Tracy family, headed by widower Jeff (Bill Paxton, pictured), form an outfit called International Rescue, and are idolized the world over as first-class, fearless heroes. The youngest of Jeff's sons, Alan (Brady Corbet), is itching to get into action as one of the Thunderbirds. He gets more than he bargained for when the group goes up against a villainous fellow known as The Hood (a completely and criminally wasted Ben Kingsley). If you're going to make a fairly big-budget, big-screen, live-action remake of a marionette kiddie show from the sixties -- and hope it turns into a popular franchise -- you better make sure it's a film for "kids" of all ages, which Thunderbirds definitely isn't. Focusing on the youngest characters, it seems geared for toddlers, who will probably be bored. The scientist "Brains" (Anthony Edwards) and his young, genius son both stutter. The Hood has a female associate played by an actress who's forced to wear huge gopher teeth. Lady Penelope (Sophia Myles) and her chauffeur Parker (Ron Cook) are also on hand. The biggest problem with this busy but silly movie is that the action scenes are not handled with any particular cinematic panache. This is almost as bad as Thunderbirds Are Go, a feature-length version of the puppet show.

Verdict: Thunderbirds are not go. **.

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