Film Review: Thunderbirds -- ‘Fab’ Family Sci-Fi
By Philip Murphy


It’s tough being the youngest sibling in a family of heroes. Alan Tracy (Brady Corbett) is not allowed to accompany his father, the famous billionaire and former astronaut Jeff Tracy (Bill Paxton) and his four older brothers on their daring rescue missions, because he’s not yet a Thunderbird. (The Thunderbirds take their name from the incredible flying machines, which their outfit, International Rescue, uses to save people around the globe.) Instead, Alan must stay behind on Tracy Island (a secret oasis in the South Pacific, which serves as headquarters for the Tracy family and International Rescue) and get his homework done, while the rest of his family is off saving the world.


However, when a diabolical genius named The Hood (Ben Kingsley) traps Jeff and his sons in their space station and tries to kill them, it’s up to Alan and his pals, the brainy Fermat (Soren Fulton) and the adventurous Tin-Tin (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) to rescue the rescuers!


Luckily, the ravishing and resourceful Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward (Sophia Miles), a British not-so-secret agent who lives in a castle and is chauffeured around in a rocket-propelled pink stretch limo, comes to their aid and, together, they take on The Hood and his henchmen.


For the uninitiated, Thunderbirds is based on a popular British TV series from the 1960s. Whether this sort of good, clean, energetic, family sci-fi will appeal to anyone other than boys under 12 remains to be seen, but kids should enjoy this film, which is a bit like Lost in Space meets The Avengers.


The actors clearly have fun juxtaposing Lady Penelope’s dry unflappability in the face of danger with the Thunderbirds’ earnest gung-ho cries of “Thunderbirds are go!” and “Fab!” The movie has a fun and stylish ’60s retro-pop look reminiscent of the Austin Powers films, but without the sexual innuendoes.


Thunderbirds is rated PG for “intense action sequences and language.”