Thunderbirds are…

…about as duff as I’d feared. Actually, no, it’s really really really


It’s like this: the Tracy brothers always were dreadfully two-dimensional characters. Clean-cut Astronaut heroes for a simpler time, perhaps, though one suspects they were flimsy even for the 1960s. No, what was cool about Thunderbirds was – durr – the Thunderbirds. The machines.

There’s something undeniably category-A cool about blasting halfway across the planet in a nuclear-fuelled green behemoth, and then (da-da-daaa!) Saving Lives! (hurrah!). That’s ‘Cool’ in a small-boy’s-dream, most-definitely-capital-C sort of way. Forty years on, the Thunderbirds are, still, amazingly, unbelievably, rip-roaringly cool.

So – picture the scene: you’re writing the movie, and that’s the legacy on which you’re drawing. What do you do? Do you:

  1. Run with it. Rely on the Thunderbirds being the stars, and have them do amazing things.
  2. Re-imagine the Tracy brothers and their story, perhaps concentrating on one or two.
    — or —
  3. Bring in a bunch of kids to form some sort of ‘International Rescue Junior’ squad.

Hmm… let me think. No, I don’t think I’d pick option (c), personally. And I’d certainly do my best to avoid trowelling on a layer of dialogue cliché so thick that nothing resembling a performance could possibly escape. And I’d ensure we saw the Thunderbirds make more than one bona-fide rescue in the entire film, thank you very much.

Despite it all, the Thunderbirds do still manage to be rip-roaringly cool, Thunderbird 2 in particular being absolutely stunning. But the script and story do nothing to help these real stars gleam. A crushingly missed opportunity. The only other saving grace is Sophia Myles’ hilariously saucy Lady Penelope, whose improbable costume changes and artfully-raised eyebrow make the most of it all.

Worth seeing for the action shots – take a nap during the rest. Oh, and tell me – just what is Thunderbird 3 for? It’s very very fast, and… orange. Apart from that – what? Beats me, always has done.

3 thoughts on “Thunderbirds are…”

  1. My problems with it:
    1) Why change Thunderbird 2? It was okay before, so why make it completely different?
    2) Why choose option c) ?
    3) I saw the original’s, and have an expectation for it to live up to, and it’s failed… 🙁
    Oh, and what’s Thunderbird 3 for? How do you get up to Thunderbird 5 😉

  2. So what is Thunderbird 5 for?
    Thunderbirds never made that much of an impression on me as a kid. I much preferred Terrahawks, and even now have been known to loudly cackle “Granite crunchies!” for no good reason. People at work just stare, but they’re largely used to it by now.

  3. Thunderbird 5 was there to listen in on the world and it’s problems, ready at a moments notice to launch the crew on another mission of mercy.

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