If the word “Supermarionation” triggers a delicious shiver of nostaglia in you, then youobviously need read no further. The stories of the two films are properly expansive variations onthe TV show’s basic plots.
In Thunderbirds Are Go (1966), a Mars-bound spaceship, the Zero-X, is sabotaged ontake-off. International Rescue is called in to provide security for the second attempt. This time,the Zero-X makes it into space. But its sojurn on Mars and return to Ea…th will not be withoutdangers, and the Thunderbirds will be needed again.
Human villainy plays a much larger role in Thunderbird 6 (1968). Here, a terroristgroup replaces the crew of the experimental Skyship One, which has Lady Penelope and othermembers of International Rescue on board for its maiden voyage. The villains’ plan is secretly torecord Lady Penelope until they can put together a tape of her voice that will lure the mainThunderbird machines into a trap. The International Rescue team does a lot more blowing upand shooting of bad guys than usual here, which won’t be to all fans’ tastes.
These are widescreen action spectaculars, with colossal special effects, and all the actors aremarionettes. Clearly the work of demented genius. Though the plots do show the strain of beingstretched to 90 minutes (a dream sequence in Thunderbirds Are Go serves no purpose,though it does give us an unnerving Cliff Richards puppet), the visuals are unfailinglyimpressive. Remarkable too is the fact that the films generate genuine suspense. As the storiesdraw one in, it becomes harder and harder to remember that you are watching puppets. Theexplosions that cap both films are mind-blowing.
The sound comes in 5.1, DTS and the original mono. The remixes work quite well. Thoughthere isn’t a full sense of an environment, it should be recalled that these are tracks from 1966and 1968. There are no inappropriate surround elements, and the rear speakers do spring to lifewith some good engine rumbles and the like. Left-right separation is also pretty solid.Thunderbirds Are Go does have sibilance and background hiss on the dialogue.
The prints are very close to pristine, with no speckles at all. There is a bit of grain (morenoticeable in the earlier film. The colours are excellent, and the contrasts and blacks are good.there is a bit of flicker (which, like the grain, is worse in some shots than others). The imagesare sharp, and the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen is a joy, showing how exultant theThunderbirds creators were in being able to shoot in that aspect ratio.
The features on both DVDs are structured along very similar lines. Commentary on bothfilms is courtesy producer/screenwriter/Lady Penelope voice Sylvia Anderson and director DavidLane. They are engaging and informative, delving deeply into the making of the films. Each discalso has an animated photo gallery, a little interactive quiz (which, when successfully completed,unlocks a short video clip of Sylvia Anderson talking about, respectively what “F.A.B.” standsfor [nothing] and a Dudley Moore parody of Lady Penelope), the theatrical trailer (plus otherMGM ads) and three featurettes. Thunderbirds Are Go’s featurettes are “History andAppeal,” “Factory of Dolls and Rockets” and “Epics in Miniature,” while Thunderbird 6has “Lady Penelope,” “Building Better Puppets,” and “Tiger Moth.” The titles of these shorts(all under ten minutes) are largely self-explanatory.
The box of the set itself also comes with a sheet of fridge magnets, and punch-out models ofthe Thunderbirds. How cool is that? As for the menus, their main screen, intro and transitionsare animated and scored.
Obviously, this release is a tie-in to the upcoming live-action film version of theThunderbirds. Whether the new incarnation can have a fraction of the enormous charm ofthese two films remains to be seen. But what a great bit of nostalgic fun this package is.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- 3 Featurettes Per Disc
- Animated Photo Gallery
- Interactive Quiz Game
- Theatrical Trailer