Friday, December 27, 2013

Thunderbirds Are Go!


I've been under the weather lately. When you're not feeling well, it's a great time to break out material you've had a hard time finishing before, because I find in a weakened state, your mind might be sufficiently patient to work through the slow parts of movies and such which have gotten to you earlier. That's pretty much the case with Thunderbirds Are Go and Thunderbird 6, two big-screen renditions of the classic British sci-fi tv show. I found them for tiny money in a discount store somewhere I now forget, and tried to watch them, but the pace of the opening scenes of Thunderbirds Are Go, which is measured even by the admission of the director, always did me in. I just got bored in the first fifteen minutes or so and bailed, choosing to do something else, then forgetting about the movies completely.


But being in a diminished state, I hung in with the slowness, even began to relish it as the spaceship dubbed the Zero-X slowly and relentlessly assembled itself in the opening moments of the movie. The story then begins to dabble out, the International Rescue team is called in after a disaster to supply security months later. Months later still the Zero-X arrives at its destination of Mars and runs into trouble. Months later still it returns home and runs into still more trouble requiring the intervention of International Rescue yet again. There are some great big explosions, some handsome model work, and an interesting sci-fi scenario.


But ultimately the movie is so uneven, it defeats its own good qualities. I was slightly stunned by the inclusion of a dream sequence which featured the music of Cliff Richard and The Shadows, a totally weird and totally 60's moment. The movie though in the final analysis was entertaining after I got into its flow, though it could've been better.


I really began to appreciate the relative seriousness of Thunderbirds Are Go when I saw the sequel Thunderbird 6. This one is played for more laughs and features a handsome biplane which dominates way too much screen time in my estimation.


The weaknesses of the first movie are amplified in the second. It essentially is a world tour via anti-gravity airship which gives the model makers the chance to fashion a Statue of Liberty, the Great Pyramids, and other notable iconic items. That stuff is the highlight as the plot makes little sense. Villains (who are never really identified) are trying to lure International Rescue into a trap and take the most elaborate and complicated way imaginable to do that.

These are diverting movies, curiosities of a time when special effects really seemed special. I can appreciate them and even enjoy parts of them, especially the first one which as I learned actually has a connection to my favorite Anderson production Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons.

But ultimately it's not hard to see why these movies didn't yield additional sequels. They are limited entertainments, fun but uninteresting in important ways. On the upside, they did allow me pass some time agreeably while I generally felt miserable. That's no small feat.

Rip Off

8 comments:

  1. On the Pacific Rim dvd's audio commentary Guillermo Del Toro called the slow-paced reveal of technology in his film the "Thunderbirds moment", referring to the way Gerry Anderson lovingly-lingered over showing the prep and launch of International Rescue's ships (and the assembling of the Zero-X in Thunderbirds are Go!).
    The "Thunderbirds moment" is always there in later Anderson series, but after Thunderbirds, the sequence was usually faster-paced.
    Two notes:
    At the beginning of the stop-motion Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave, there's a hysterical scene of Wallace getting out of bed which spoofs the Thunderbird 2 launch sequence shot-for-shot!
    In the mid-1990s, Thunderbirds was re-edited into a half-hour version for FoxKids. Most of the time the "Anderson moment" was the first thing to go...

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    1. Love the Wallace and Gromit! Haven't seen Pacific Rim and now I want to.

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  2. Well, except that TB6 was a 'sequel' to TBs Are Go. I've got both movies on DVD - had them for years, still never got around to watching them. Maybe one day. Perhaps the first Star Trek movie was going for that 'Anderson' moment, eh? Hope Santa was good to you, Rip.

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    1. He was indeed, though there was a dearth of fantasy stuff. Hope he treated you well.

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  3. Kid:
    The Zero-X was reused in the first episode of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons transporting Captain Black and other astronauts to Mars (and back to Earth after they were possessed by the Mysterons).
    The Andersons felt all their Supermationation series were set in the same universe, a concept reinforced by the official comic strips in Century 21 and other weekly magazines where the characters (and their organizations) often interacted!

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  4. I got The Best of Thunderbirds on DVD it was about 6 or 8 episodes from the series. I have to say it was very boring. A lot of talking it was like a soap opera including the smoking & drinking which I thought was funny. The music was pretty interesting. It took a while to go through each episode. I ended up giving it to my brother which loved it.
    We watched them as kids but I just couldn't get into them now as I did then. Maybe I have to be in the right frame of mind.

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    1. I've been debating getting the series. I'm leaning toward it, but your analysis makes me doubt. Thanks for the impressions.

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  5. I don't want to dissuade you. If I can suggest go to youtube to view a few episodes
    or amazon has "The Best of Thunderbirds" for $4 new or $3 used.

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