Thunderbirds (2004)

C220_03_R.jpg“Thunderbirds” is the every essence of modern children fodder I despise. From colorful distracting special effects, an utterly brainless story, really bad acting, and an end product that fails to give a child anything new to take from the experience. Admittedly, I was a fan of the original “Thunderbirds” show which, for those whom don’t know, consisted of marionettes which made up the entire cast and miniatures which made up the special effects. While those who would consider the sight of my description dumb, well then, they haven’t seen this film. “Thunderbirds” has nothing to do with the concept to begin with, and is basically one of the worst movies I’ve seen in years. The film “Thunderbirds” is supposed to be about men dressed in suits whom save the world in different sized ships, but what was once a very fun show is now reduced to being a cheesy “Spy Kids”/”Johnny Quest” hybrid rip-off with bubble gum children replacing marionettes.

Instead of strong male characters, we’re shown a lot more broadly sketched kid characters who manage to prove themselves in the face of adversity. There is the blonde blue eyed main character, the token ethnic character who also pulls double duty as a “girl power” spunky love interest, and of course, the geeky kid who saves the day and ruins things for everyone else because, he just can’t help it. There are also the supporting characters like the typical British butler who shouts “blimey” and sounds mysteriously like Michael Caine, and Ms. Penelope whose your typical Emma Peal wanna be. The acting (or lack thereof) amidst this farce is slightly above the level of a typical “Power Rangers” episode and is some of the most ridiculous I’ve ever seen. The characters here have zero chemistry with one another, and watching them try to create chemistry is very sad.

The only actors with a hint of an attempt at trying to add charisma to their one-dimensional characters are Paxton who gives perhaps his worst performance of his career, and Kingsley who looks really bored. As usual, the character of Jeff and Alan are given the usual broadly sketched father-son dynamics with his father not taking the son seriously, while he attempts to be taken seriously by his older brothers, blah, blah. It’s all just extremely forced and desperately attempting to impose drama on the audience. Such nuggets forcing drama include insightful and incredibly clunky lines like “Saving lives is not easy work, but it’s what we do”, and “The Thunderbirds are in trouble, and I don’t like that”. Seems a five year old wrote the script–if there was one, anyway. While the film’s production qualities are a step above the “Mario Brothers” film, Frakes can’t direct a decent film to save his life, striving to direct some of the most cheesy and artificial stinkers in recent years.

Apparently the Thunderbirds must not be as good as they think if they’re saved by children, whom must take on three of the most altogether menacing and utterly irritating villains on the screen. There’s the jagged toothed brainy assistant, the big black bodyguard who can break through a door with his body like it’s paper, but screams like a bitch from a bite on the hand, and then there’s The Hood. Kingsley (?!) my god, man. First you’re starring in a Uwe Boll movie and then this? A fine actor such as you couldn’t possibly be this hard up for money. The Hood is your very typical villain who monologues walks slowly enough to intimidate his enemies but let them get away, and screams “Get them!” all the time despite being extremely powerful. The Hood walks around with a loud costume looking very much like Emperor Palpatine’s black sheep bastard brother throughout the entire film.

Meanwhile, the script features some gigantic plot holes that were just too idiotic to ignore like how TV crews always seem to be suspiciously on the scene immediately when the thunderbirds arrive, how despite being a millionaire, no one knows Jeff is the leader of the Thunderbirds, how The hood can sense everything except that children are watching his every move, and how the  character Tin Tin can do just about anything when the plot calls for it: like dive from a hundred feet, have supernatural powers, fight amazing kung-fu, know advanced technology only the thunderbirds know, and, well, basically anything else the writers think up. Though this may be a film geared to children, I’m not a kid, and this is crap on a stick. There’s just nothing redeeming about this movie, and as much fun as I had looking at Sophia Myles, this is just nothing but mindless crap meant to keep kids distracted while burning brain cells. Clunky dialogue, crappy acting, seizure inducing multi-colored special effects, this has it all.