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  Directed by
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Theatrical trailer - Shrek 2, Barbie, Two Brothers, Land Before Time 10, Balto-Wings of Change
  • Audio commentary - Director
  • Animated menus
  • Music video - Busted
  • Documentaries
  • Interactive game - Hood vs Thunderbirds

Thunderbirds (2004)

/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 90 mins . PG . PAL


Dear Jonathan Frakes,
Donít take this the wrong way but I hate you. You took my childhood memories of waking up at 5am to watch a weird show that was entirely populated by puppets and stomped all over them with your Ďinterpretationí. Why would you think that the Thunderbirds could be any more than puppets? I can forgive you replacing the puppets with real (bad) actors but I canít forgive you turning Thunderbirds into a Ďfamilyí movie where kids are the stars and save the day. If I want to see that sort of thing Iíll watch Spy Kids.

As much as I hate you for making Thunderbirds all squishy and family I have to admit you did a pretty good job with it. The action is decent, the special effects are incredible and it was a real treat to see those gigantic International Rescue rocket ships and other crafts in action. The story is also pretty good for a family movie and the acting is acceptable, even from the younger actors.

I also enjoyed the rare but subtle humour which was obviously placed in there for us 30 somethingís who grew up with Thunderbirds and where expecting something aimed at us, not our kids.

It was also good to see Anthony Edwards in a role that didnít involve him acting perpetually depressed then dying of cancer, thanks for that.

In closing, Iím mildly pleased that the $57 million didnít even some close to being recouped since it may encourage you to stay away from cult classic remakes in future, however I hope you make some of it back with the DVD release. Maybe in future you should stick with Star Trek?

Yours truly,
Chris Hore


Thunderbirds on DVD is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for widescreen displays.

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They're not marionettes, they're real.

The first thing a viewer will notice about the image reproduction within the film is the brilliant colours exhibited by each Thunderbird rescue craft, particularly the green of Thunderbird 2 and rich red of Thunderbird 3. On top of the excellent colour representation the image is clear and sharp and all times, with the exception of a small amount of grain visible towards the end of the film.

The excellent video presentation is marred somewhat by some minor problems that exist with aliasing, the common offender being the front grille of a car but nothing too obvious or distracting. Some minor compression artifacts also occur at various points but again, nothing too bad and certainly not enough to warrant further description.

Overall, the video presentation is what you would expect from a movie that bombed at the cinemas and is trying to recoup some of that budget with a glossy and shiny DVD release.


The primary and only audio track for Thunderbirds is Dolby Digital 5.1 in English. There is an additional audio track which contains the directorís commentary and is in a Dolby Digital 2.0 format.

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Is that the Spice Girls bus in the background.

The audio presentation of this DVD is flawless, from the thundering (no pun intended) theme music giving the sub woofer some duty to the surround channels being used to full effect for environmental and all encompassing explosions and the like. The centre channel carries the dialog without a hitch and is clear and crisp at all times even when overwhelmed by explosions and other effects.


A while before Thunderbirds hit the cinemas a trailer was released on the internet that featured Song 2 by Blur. It was a brilliant trailer and did a fine job of making me want to go and see the movie. Its absence in the extras package of this DVD is a puzzle but there are quite a collection of other extras, as detailed below.

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Oh no, nipple cripple!

Let's start with the original and highly interactive menu system which is split up into 5 separate areas, one for each of the main Thunderbird rescue vehicles (T1 to T5), and each section also has a brief fact file on each of the Thunderbirds. T1 is the audio section, T2 is the main movie, T3 holds all the bonus features, T4 allows the changing of the sub titles and finally T5 contains the scene selection options.

Directors Commentary with Jonathan Frakes
Frakes dryly relates some technical aspects of the film making process, not the most interesting commentary it does contain the usual information about various scenes, special effects and other topics.

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The new Holden concept Toranonaro.

Creating the Action (7:38)
Jonathan Frakes gives a real time and on-location description of how the one of the special effects shots known as the Jubilee Gardens scene of the movie was done. The remainder of the segment involves a step by step description of the technical aspects of the scene.

Tracey Island Revealed (9:18)
In the same style as the previous extra this featurette shows many details of how the Tracey Island special effect was created including parts of a Frakes interview and a typical voice over.

Lady P and Parker: Fun and Stunts (2:51)
Another featurette in the same style as the previous, this time outlining how this key fight scene was filmed and choreographed.

FAB1: More Than a Car
FAB1 was designed by Ford and the producers of this featurette arenít afraid to let you know this fact, over and over again.

Lady Penelopeís Pink World (4:08)
Just as it sounds, this featurette in the same style as the others on this DVD concentrated on Lady P and her world of pink stuff.

Busted Ė Thunderbirds Music Video (3:30)
A music video by the very Greenday sounding band called Busted, itís not a bad song and it does a good job of hipping up the original theme. (is hipping a word?).

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Things that make you go boom!

Game: The Hood vs Thunderbirds
This interactive game is a mildly amusing distraction and cleverly produced, if a little dull and frustrating, it is worth a look though.

Trailers: Shrek 2, Barbie as the princess and the pauper, Two Brothers, Land Before Time 10, Balto The Wings of Change
Conspicuous in itís absence is the previously mentioned Thunderbirds trailer, strange.


While I did express my displeasure at Mr Frakes and his interpretation of how the Thunderbirds should be portrayed on the big screen at the beginning of this review this movie is a quite enjoyable and suitable tribute to the original Thunderbirds. I do realize that the original Thunderbirds series and subsequent movies were aimed at kids so my disappointment at this trend continuing are unfounded and irrational.

Ed: Team America used marionette puppetry and targeted an adult audience. It certainly can be done and they certainly missed an opportunity here.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=4835
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      And I quote...
    "Itís Spy Kids with more rocket ships."
    - Chris Hore
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-676A
    • Projector:
          BenQ PB6100
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V995
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale Diamond
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wharfedale Modus
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale Diamond
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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