Saturday, July 31, 2004
So I'm Playing Amateur Movie Critic Today
The kids decided they want to go to see the film after all, and we piled off to the multiplex. It only cost $43 for the bargain admission, the popcorn and drinks. Such a deal. The projectionist managed to run the trailer for Alien vs. Predator (or whatever the heck it's called) backwards and upside down, which gave me a huge laugh. Then came the movie.....
- The opening credits were absolutely shameful. Cheap animation. And not one mention of Gerry Anderson, no "inspired by" or whatever. A vague reference to the original opening, but considering they obviously threw some bucks at this thing, it was a piece of crap.
- The movie focuses on Alan Tracy as the main character, rather unusual in that Alan had relatively little showcasing in the original series. Come to think of it, the only two who did get any real face time in the original series were Scott and Virgil. Alan's a flaky high school kid in the setup, and his best friend is Brains' son.
- Sophia Myles actually plays Lady Penelope well, although she's a bit young for the role. Lady P. is played very much like Emma Peel, a good characterization.
- Ron Cook plays Parker perfectly. Absolutely nails the character.
- Despite my Gandhi-with-broad-Punjabi-accent jokes Ben Kingsley is actually pretty good in the role of The Hood. He conveys just enough menace without being terribly lethal about things, and has much more personality than the original villain, who was so insufferably wooden
- One cute nod to the original show has strings attached to one of the hands on Thunderbird 1's control console
- Other than Alan, who actually has a personality, the rest of the Tracys are incredibly dull. Instead of being the dispatcher, Jeff Tracy actually flies missions with the rest of the family, but there is zero, zip, nada development of the rest of them. Scott and Virgil were fairly well-defined in the original series (wooden in both senses of the term, but at least they were defined), but here you couldn't tell Gordon from John from any of them. Blah.
- The actual Thunderbird vehicles are fairly close to the original designs. Nice touch on the Thunderbird 2 launch with the transporter that carries it out of the hangar and locks onto the launch ramp. However, Thunderbird 2 carries an awful lot of stuff in that one pod, I mean come on, the Mole, the Firefly and Thunderbird 4 all at once? Decent CGI. Unfortunately Thunderbird 2 didn't have the memorably absurd boarding sequence of the show. They did at least have Thunderbirds 1, 2 and 3 launching from the correct hiding places (gotta love the way they slide the pool out of the way, and at least in this movie the round house where Thunderbird 3 launches out of gets out of the way. Anyone ever think of things like pressure waves against the glass in the house in the original series?)
- FAB 1 as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? I think not. And it's supposed to be a Rolls, dammit, not a Maybach or some other Teutonic triebwagen.
- Note to the producers, the organization is International Rescue, and people called them that in the original. The Thunderbirds is the generic name for the whizbang machines.
- At least the film does pick up a tiny bit on the family relationship between Kyrano and The Hood. Bhasker Patel unfortunately comes across more like a maitre'd at a low-rent curry house than anything else.
- Vanessa Anne Hudgens is a feisty Tin-Tin, but like the other characters she's quite a bit younger than in the series. A couple of mild bits about teenagers beginning to notice each other in the film, but no mushy stuff (no sex please, we're marionettes).
- The Hood's henchmen are suitably cartoonish. Weird looking lady scientist plus an imposing shtarker who looks like (but isn't) Michael Clarke Duncan.
- Anthony Edwards of "Revenge Of The Nerds" plays Brains perfectly. Since there's a junior Mr. Hackenbacker (Fermat, Alan's friend), one wonders where Mrs. Hackenbacker is/was.
- Blatantly obvious product placement for Ford.
- Most critics have compared this to Spy Kids, something that most kids in the theatre picked up on.
Bottom line is that it's a cute movie. I really doubt it will become a franchise, but I'll probably end up buying it on DVD just for completeness' sake. There's a couple of funny bits involving Lady Penelope that I really enjoyed. The original series, like most of the rest of the Gerry Anderson shows had miserably leaden scripts, but the whizbang factor more than compensated for it, and while this isn't going to change my nostalgia for the series (in its' own cheesy way) it was fun for the family.