Thunderbird 6 (October 10/04)
Thunderbird 6 marks the second foray onto the big screen for the cult series Thunderbirds (following Thunderbirds are Go), and while it's difficult not to be impressed by the hard work and patience that's gone into making the film, there's not much here to appeal to non-fans of the series.
The film's screenplay has been co-written by Gerry Anderson (along with Sylvia Anderson), who is the creator of the Thunderbirds TV show. And while devotees of the series would probably argue the movie is an accurate representation of the series was all about, that's precisely the problem with the movie. Though director David Lane imbues Thunderbird 6 with a distinctly cinematic feel, the film's storyline is decidedly low-rent; ie it feels as though it'd be more at home on the small screen. This is compounded by the fact that there just isn't enough happening here to keep the viewer engaged for 89 minutes, as though Anderson took a script from the show and expanded it to feature length.
Unlike Thunderbirds are Go, Thunderbird 6 takes the emphasis off Jeff Tracy and places it on a couple of periphery characters - Brains and Lady Penelope. Brains, the resident scientist and inventor, has come up with a design for an airship called Skyship One - which is scheduled to make its maiden voyage with Lady Penelope and a few of the Tracy kids aboard. But a group of dastardly villains have killed the ship's crew and plan to surreptitiously use Lady Penelope to ambush the Thunderbirds.
Plotwise, that's about the extent of it. As was the case with Thunderbirds are Go, the film lingers on dialogue-free sequences (ie planes taking off) for much longer than it has any right to. Though the widescreen cinematography is undeniably quite impressive, the elongation of such moments doesn't seem to serve any purpose other than to stretch out the film's running time. Couple that with Anderson and Anderson's propensity for technical dialogue, and you've got a children's film that'll undoubtedly bore most kids to tears.
Thunderbird 6 also contains a surprising amount of violence, as the bad guys shoot Skyship One's crew and toss their bodies overboard. While there's something strangely entertaining about watching puppets behave with malicious abandon, it's simply not enough to broaden the film's beyond Thunderbirds' hardcore fan base.