Thunderbirds (2004) Jonathan Frakes
Production Budget: $57 million
Worldwide Gross: around $28 million
I often bemoan the fact that the directors I love the most do not get the money they deserve for movies. Hell, even Spielberg has trouble getting money for his project and many would say he is the greatest filmmaker of this generation. Yet he is currently having trouble for his Lincoln film. Well, where is all this money going? Apparently it is all going into Thunderbirds. Seriously who was the idiotic producer who wanted to hand out $60 million dollars on a live action version on a British marionette show from the 60’s? Maybe the same people who thought there was still an audience for The Avengers and The Wild Wild West. Oh god, I just reminded myself of more bombs I need to work on.
This Thunderbirds movie is geared toward the Spy Kids/Clockstoppers pre teen audience. The story follows billionaire Jeff Tracy (Bill Paxton) who creates several giant flying ships that help protect people from natural disasters. His five children pilot the ship (with the help of shiny spandex and gallons of hair gel). However Alan (Jeff’s youngest son) wants to be a Thunderbird but is too young and doesn’t want to deal with all that pesky responsibility nonsense. The Hood (Ben Kingsley) gets Jeff and his children trapped in space so he can hopefully use the Thunderbirds to rob a bank. Yeah, just rob a bank. The Hood does seem to lack a healthy imagination. Anyway Alan and two other kids are left to thwart The Hood’s devious plan.
I have never seen the show so I can not tell you how much the movie faithfully follows the show. Just reading the synopsis on Wikipedia it sounds similar however the movie adds that pre-teen wangst to draw in the new generation. I was surprised to hear the British still love this show and has a huge cult following. In fact that is where most of the money this movie made came from. Yet from reading reviews, even fans of the show do not feel it followed the show faithfully. Again, I don’t know and I don’t care.
The movie itself is bad. Its not…oh what’s the term…aggressively bad? Its not a movie that pisses you off, it is a movie that is incredibly bland and unimportant. Everything about this movie is lackluster and mediocre: the humor is unfunny, the plot is stock and stupid, the music is one step up from MIDI on my old Casio, and the action is one step up from 3 Ninjas (although both still have Hannah Barbara sound effects during the fight scenes). This movie is so bland it should be on ABC Family. And may I make a small tangent and talk about Sir Ben Kingsley. Oh, Ben! Ben, Ben, Ben… I understand the need to cash in every once in a while. Heck, even Robert DeNiro has now whored himself out more than a hooker on Van Buren. But you can do better than Thunderbirds and Bloodrayne. Find a nice Vin Diesel movie to humiliate yourself in but this has got to stop.
Now as I said this movie doesn’t suck. I mean I can certainly see a two year old plopped in front of the tv looking at the candy colors and the cutie hair gelled star and be moderately entertained by the whiz bang goofiness of the whole thing. It seems like all the people involved really tried to make an entertaining movie but for anyone over the age of 8 will be incredibly bored with Thunderbirds.
The question I still have is why? Why did this need 60 million dollars? I understand that Hollywood needs to remake anything and everything but just from a purely business perspective this makes no sense. You could have made a smaller production or made it into an animated movie for a fraction of the cost and turned a modest profit. Did anyone seriously think that a movie helmed by Jonathan Frakes (someone who is an unknown outside Star Trek circles) and really starring no one could clear 120 million in revenues? It makes no sense. Anyway the movie is ass and it has already been forgotten.