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  • Thunderbirds

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on December 15th, 2004

    Overall
    Film
    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    (out of 5)

    

    Synopsis

    Alan is the youngest member of the Tracy family, and would dearly love to be a full memberof International Rescue, but is stuck in school and is treated as a kid by his bothers and father.But then it is up to him and his two young friends to save the day when The Hood (BenKingsley) takes over IR’s base, traps the Tracys up in space, and plans to turn the Thunderbirdvehicles to evil uses (starting with robbing the Bank of England).

    What I want to know is why oil rig …orkers rescued in Russia are taken to a hospital in SanFrancisco. You know you’re in trouble when a live-action film seems far less credible thanits model, which starred puppets and featured such plot lines as a project to move the EmpireState Building. Former Star Trek: TNG second-in-command Jonathan Frakes hasassumed the directorial reins here with plenty of enthusiasm, and the script has all sorts ofaffectionate references to the marionette epics, but the creative team here just doesn’t get it. Thespecial effects are frequently less impressive than those of the old shows and film. but the biggestmistake is turning this into a Spy Kids imitation, thus making the film far more juvenile(and less interesting) than the originals. The film bombed at the box office. Rightly so.

    Audio

    One thing that can be said for the film is that it has very lively sound, and that is probablythe strongest aspect of the disc. There are all kinds of exciting roars and blasts, and theplacement of the effects is first-rate. The dialogue is never drowned out, however, nor does itdistort. The music (which plays with the old, familiar score in entertaining fashion) soundsterrific.

    Video

    The image is ery sharp, and the blacks are excellent. The colours are extremely strong andbright, and the intention was indeed to have exaggeratedly primary colours. Where things havegone a little amiss is with the flesh tones, which are a little too far on the orange side. There isno grain or edge enhancement visible, and the only other minor qualm I would have is a slightlyawkward layer transition.

    Special Features

    Jonathan Frakes’ commentary is so enthusiastic, so clear on what he was attempting toachieve, that I wish the accompanying film were better. Apart from the theatrical trailer and someDVD-ROM features, the other extras are a clutch of featurettes. Though no wandering too farfrom their promotional nature, they are also clearly aimed at younger viewers, and do manageto make some technical aspects of filmmaking quite accessible. So, “Creating the UltimateAction Sequence” deals with the arrival of the Thunderbirds in London (a sequence that comesnowhere near being “ultimate”); “Tracy Island Revealed” is about the primary setting; “LadyPenelope and Parker: Fun and Stunts” is a look at the main fight scene; “FAB 1: More Than Justa Car” puts Penelope’s car in the spotlight; “Lady Penelope’s Pink World” is a superficial lookat the costume design. There’s also a music video by Busted. The menu’s intro and transitionsare animated and scored, but the menu screens themselves are merely scored.

    Closing Thoughts

    There has been a good new Thunderbirds movie in the theatres this year. But it’s calledTeam America: World Police.

    Special Features List

    • Director’s Commentary
    • “Creating the Ultimate Action Sequence” Featurette
    • “Tracy Island Revealed” Featurette
    • “Lady Penelope and Parker: Fun and Stunts” Featurette
    • “FAB 1: More Than Just a Car” Featurette
    • “Lady Penelope’s Pink World” Featurette
    • Busted Video
    • Trailer
    • DVD-ROM Features
    Posted In: 1.85:1 Widescreen, Action, Disc Reviews, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish), DVD, Universal

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