Gerry Anderson’s cult TV series Thunderbirds was, if nothing else, an impressive feat of synergy: Filmed in “Supermarionation,” the show offered the mild thrill of seeing high-flying derring-do staged with puppets, models, and cherry-bomb explosions. The new movie version has all the digital effects in the world—but without the original’s bargain-basement theatrics, it’s just another entry in a seemingly endless line of Spy Kids knockoffs. (This one is directed by Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Jonathan Frakes, and indeed, the decor and costumes seem to have been selected by an Ecstasy-tripping Klingon.) This isn’t really a Thunderbirds picture, plural, as four out of five members of the team (a homegrown, South Pacific–based world-protection agency) spend most of the runtime marooned aboard a space station, accompanied by exposition-muttering dad Bill Paxton. It’s up to a proto-Thunderbird, young Alan Tracy (Brady Corbet), to save the family island from the clutches of the Hood (Ben Kingsley), the telepathic, mascara-slathered brother of the Tracys’ kindly manservant. As the dapper Lady Penelope, Sophia Myles tries to infuse the enterprise with some Charlie’s Angels verve, but she’s only one life vest, and the movie is a downed plane.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 20, 2004