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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Thunderbirds (review)

Commander Riker does Thunderbirds — is this a prime example of synergistic geek heaven or what? And while it’s certainly aimed directly at the little kids — the flick owes as much to Robert Rodriguez and Spy Kids as is does to Gerry Anderson’s supermarionated brain — there enough for the big kids to enjoy here too, particularly if they’re geeky enough to have gotten a kick of Anderson’s 1960s science-fiction puppet show. Candy-colored and comic-book bright, this gadgety-cool family-friendly adventure is a retro throwback to a time when Dad ruled the roost and the future would be full of neat-o spaceships — this is a “future” that would have been more recognizable to Down with Love‘s Zip Martin than it is to us today with our Matrix-y, Brazil-y dystopic visions. “Billionaire ex-astronaut” Jeff Tracy (Bill Paxton: Broken Lizard’s Club Dread, having a ball) leads the Thunderbirds International Rescue squad — that is, his gaggle of square-jawed sons — which the youngest (Brady Corbet: Thirteen) is dying to finally join. He’ll get his chance when a superbaddie (Ben Kingsley: House of Sand and Fog, hamming it up) threatens everything Dad has worked for and only Alan and his pals can save the day. There’s ever a supercool and supergirly secret agent, Lady Penelope (Sophia Myles: Underworld), who dresses all in pink and kicks some serious butt — give her a film of her own and call it Legally Bond. Director Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: Insurrection) keeps things bouncy and goofy, funny and fast-paced… except for the obnoxious recurrent product placement for a brand-name I won’t give more free advertising to by mentioning it here. Still, on the whole, this is pure silly fun, one of the very few “family” films of recent vintage that I would actually be willing to let a child see.


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MPAA: rated PG for intense action sequences and language

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb
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