Thunderbirds (2004)

Rating: PG
Length: 1hr 35
Release: 23.7.2004
Director: Jonathan Frakes
About: When young Alan Tracy’s entire family is trapped by an evil being, the Hood, it is up to him and his friends to come to their rescue.

First Thoughts

Summer 2004 was one of the best summers; me and my best friend in the world had gotten into a routine of going the cinema once a week and summer 2004 was peak cinema going; Woolworths was still open for pick and mix, London Road still homed the Liverpool Odeon and tickets were still cheap.
It was just me and him and he never once complained about my ‘my spot’ eccentricity. However, Thunderbirds marked the one and only time we let someone join us.

The Good

  • The wonderful Ron Cook steals every scene he’s in as the beloved Parker. He’s the benchmark for what the film should have been. His tone and humour hit the right notes; from the sarcasm to the near car crash cheer for the football win.

The Bad

  • It’s too CGI glossy, which unfortunately hasn’t aged well. It’s not the only film from this time like this. There’s no depth or shadow on the integrated image so it sticks out like a sore thumb.
  • The Tracey brothers lacked any individuality, charisma or character. We’re not given any time with them, that’s true. However, with careful film work and scripting, it was possible.
  • Lady Penelope is… problematic. We’re introduced to her with a seductive “hello boys.” to a room full of boys who will undoubtedly add her to their spank bank. The gratuitous child-friendly dip in the tub is followed by a boob grope to retrieve a bone, which alone is fine. However, the reaction of the room would make it seem she used her bare-breasted nipple to open the door. To add insult to injury, we’re treated to a “I didn’t need it anyway.” nod and wink.
  • The usual issues with filming in London; the Bank of London is not the Bank of London, travel in one direction but end in a location that baffles. Oh and then there’s a random monorail because even with all the fucking bridges across the Thames, you need another way.

The Ugly

  • Where to start?! This film is so problematic on all fronts and most revolving the representation of people within the film.
  • There’s very few people of colour in this movie. Four, actually. One, plays a stereotypical bad guy and the other three are a family of hired help for the Tracey family.
  • Ben Kingsley once again wins the award for cultural appropriation. This time Kingsley channels Yul Brenner and hams up the oriental wizardry with a swish of his kimono.
  • However, you’ll be forgiven for still rooting for Kingsley’s over-acted The Hood because the lead we’re meant to connect with, teen Tracey, well he’s a bit of a twat. That’s putting it lightly. His toxic masculinity fuels his early-noughties angst that will have you tearing your hair out. Oh and the little shit at his most twatish thinks its okay to mimic his best friend’s inherited stutter.
  • Rose Keegan perhaps is given the worst treatment possible as hench-woman Transom. From her introduction, i’m on edge. There’s the ‘she’s sexy’ close-up of her animal printed arse, followed by the camera physically pulling back to mirror the man’s ‘disappointment’ that she doesn’t have the socially ‘hot’ face. Fuck you Thunderbirds. Simultaniously objectifying her and making her a focus of repulsion?! Not okay.

Final Thoughts

Not the colourful but boring film I remember but a complete hot mess of offence. I’d love to say I’ll never watch it again, but I am pretty certain I said that to Michael as we left the cinema.