Film / Thunderbirds

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Thunderbirds is a live-action/CGI action movie directed by Jonathan Frakes, and starring Philip Winchester, Ben Kingsley, Bill Paxton and a young Vanessa Hudgens, released in 2004. It is based on Gerry Anderson's famous Supermarionation show, Thunderbirds. It flopped spectacularly, due in part to the film missing much of what made the TV series so popular.


Thunderbirds provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Transom to Brains, apparently.
  • Action Girl:
    • Lady Penelope, even more than in the series.
    • Tin-Tin, unlike in the series.
  • A Father to His Men: Bill Paxton became this on the set to the other Tracy actors.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version uses "Thunderbird - your voice -" by V6 for the theme song.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The Tracys are called off on another mission at the end of the film.
  • Animated Credits Opening: A very nice one, showing both the people and the vehicles of International Rescue.
  • The Artifact: The Stinger (below) is a remnant of a deleted scene where The Hood would've shot down the FAB-1 with a helicopter.
  • Butter Face: Transom's introduction has her climbing down a ladder in some very form-fitting Painted-On Pants, complete with Male Gaze... Then she turns around.
  • Call Back:
    • "Fermat/Alan, my friend, what you don't know can't hurt you."
    • And this one:
      Jeff: Saving lives is a dangerous business. But it's what we do.

      Alan: I don't want to save your life. But it's what we do.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Lady Penelope is being attacked by the Hood's Evil Genius. All she has to say is this:
    Lady Penelope: Do you know how much a manicure costs these days?
  • Cool Car: The FAB-1, even if it isn't a Rolls-Royce this time around- the Ford Thunderbird it is now can fly and double as a liferaft. (Apparently, they had offered Rolls-Royce the job to build a new FAB-1, but they declined because they were busy with creating the RR Phantom.)
  • Creator Cameo: Visual effects director Mark Nelmes is briefly seen as an ice-cream stand operator in London when Thunderbird 2 lands there; for added points, he's wearing the 1960s-style International Rescue hat. Another visual-effects staffer is seen as one of the guys working the Tower Bridge bascule, and Frakes himself is one of the policemen at the end.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Parker
    Henchman: You've broken my nose!
    Parker: Yes, that was the intention of the maneuver.
  • Demoted to Extra: The elder Tracy brothers are co-leads in the series. They're Distressed Dudes through most of the film.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: A stressed-out Alan takes a hard dig at Fermat's stutter. Brains could probably handle it, but Fermat? NOT COOL.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Fermat's comment on how Tintin has "blossomed". Tintin's reaction is justified.
  • Girly Bruiser: Lady Penelope gets some Xenafication — and does so while wearing bright pink. She even uses her parasol as a weapon.
  • Heroism Equals Job Qualification: Alan Tracy gets made a full member of the team after saving the day... despite the fact he's only 14 YEARS OLD!!
  • An Insert: As an in-joke on the series' use of human hands in close-ups, the Thunderbird 1 launch sequence briefly has a puppet hand on a lever instead of a human hand.
  • Instant Costume Change: Lady Penelope keeps changing hairstyles and outfits between scenes when there logically isn't any place for her to do it; this was lampshaded on the DVD commentary.
  • Large Ham: The Hood.
  • Missing Mom: Notably, three fathers are in this show (Jeff, Kyrano, Brains) but no mothers. Grandma Tracy getting Adapted Out means this can even apply to Jeff!
  • Mythology Gag: Unlike the original series, they names "The Hood" and "Tracy Island" are actually spoken in dialogue; previously, only books and other off-screen materials had given the names.
  • Obstructive Code of Conduct: Averted- unlike the old series, this version of International Rescue has no qualms about being known to the general public and they're frequently on the news, though nobody really knows who they are (and neither Tracy Island nor Thunderbird 5 seem to be common knowledge). On the other hand, one of the reasons they had the policy was so that their tech wouldn't fall into the wrong hands- which is what happens here. Admittedly, The Hood managed to do it by striking Thunderbird 5 with a missile to draw the Tracys out into space so he could take what he needed from Tracy Island- not exactly something you could be prepared for.
  • Parent Service: Lady Penelope is clearly this - her "Hello Boys" scene sticking out spectacularly. She also gets a scene where she delivers orders to Parker while in the bath.
  • Phony Newscast: The movie somehow manages to shoehorn a reporter (the same reporter at that, and played by the director's wife Genie Francis to boot) into every scene in which the Thunderbirds appear in the outside world.
  • Precision F-Strike: From Brains of all people (in addition to his earlier attempt, after which a track in Hans Zimmer's score is named — "Fafafa... No Way!"):
    Brains: DAMN IT, JEFF, WAKE UP!
  • Product Placement: The Ford motor company provided many of the vehicles used in the film, and they're going to make damn sure you know it. To a far lesser extent, Unilever ice cream products are also given their dues (Ben and Jerry's is in the Tracy Island freezer, and the ice-cream stand Thunderbird 2 squashes in London is Heartbrand).
  • Psychic Powers:
    • The Hood's powers are given a massive beef-up, from simply reading Kyrano's mind in the show to actual telekinesis and PG-rated Mind Rape.
    • Tin-Tin also has psychic powers.
  • Race Lift: Kyrano and his family are now from India instead of Malaysia. Still Asian, just a different part of Asia.
  • Self-Deprecation: On the DVD Commentary, Jonathan Frakes introduces himself as "the alleged director of Thunderbirds."
  • Ship Tease: Between Jeff and Lady Penelope.
  • Speech Impediment: B-B-Brains' t-tendency to s-stutter is t-t-t-t-taken t-to r-r-ridiculous e-e-extremes.
  • Stealth Pun: Penelope's FAB1 was changed from a Rolls-Royce to a Ford Thunderbird. (There are also more Ford Thunderbirds floating around- a red one in the Tracy Island hangar, and two more pink ones at Lady Penelope's estate.)
  • The Stinger: Right before the credits roll, we see Penelope and Parker in a pink lifeboat off Tracy Island, with Penny telling Parker to pedal faster.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Though it didn't have the obsession with pyrotechnics the series had, there's still a Russian oil-rig that goes up at the start, showcasing the Thunderbirds in action.
  • Team Hand-Stack: Done by Alan, Fermat and Tin-Tin twice.
  • Teen Superspy: Alan, Fermat and Tin-Tin.
  • To the Batpole!: Here, each of the Tracy brothers have their own door with their faces on them, which take them to whichever Thunderbird they need.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: In the climax, Thunderbird 2 manages to get to London from Tracy Island (in the freaking South Pacific) in the amount of time it takes Parker to pick a lock, a lock which is even implied to be straightforward for him to pick. Thunderbird 1 proceeds to make the same journey in the amount of time it takes the Mole to drill under the Thames into the "Bank of London". Of course, given its' apparently...
  • 20 Minutes into the Future, it could be justified as being more advanced tech. The year isn't stated in the film, but the monorail in London is stated to be the "Olympic Monorail" and the team is called away by a "Madame President" at the end. (The trailer stated it was 2010- but feel free to take that with a grain of salt.)
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Transom stuffs some of the stolen jewelry down her cleavage when no-one is looking.
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: "Who will rescue the rescuers?"
  • The Worf Effect: Lady Penelope and Parker deliver an effortless Curb-Stomp Battle to the Hood's goons largely so he can look more impressive when he defeats them with his Psychic Powers.

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