…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:
- Run with it. Rely on the Thunderbirds being the stars, and have them do amazing things.
- Re-imagine the Tracy brothers and their story, perhaps concentrating on one or two.
— or —
- 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.