A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Thunderbirds s a vibrant-hued action movie starring Bill Paxton as the leader of the Tracy family, aka the Thunderbirds, a secret group of heroes dedicated to righting wrong wherever they find it. Based on the 1960s TV series of the same name, the film features bombastic special effects and an exaggerated, cartoonish violence in the battle and fight scenes. There's lots of punching, kicking, and, in one instance, a double kick to the crotch of an antagonist. When antagonists cause damage to a monorail in London, innocent commuters are trapped in traincars at the bottom of the Thames River. There's major product placement, with Ford vehicles are prominently displayed, and the Ford logo is shown each time news reports of the action are presented on TV.
What's the story?
In this live-action update the 1960s British television show, ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy (Bill Paxton) of International Rescue and his five sons live on a secret island in the South Pacific in a spectacular house filled with gadgets to help monitor the globe and operate their rescue equipment -- submarine, plane, rocket ship, space station, and pod vehicles. Super-geek Brains (Anthony Edwards) keeps all the technology running smoothly. Just as teenage son Alan (Brady Corbett) and his best pal Fermat (Soren Fulton) return from boarding school to the secret hideaway in the South Pacific, his father and brothers are lured away by the evil Hood (Ben Kingsley). Hood plans to use the rescue equipment to rob the world's biggest banks, bring down the global economy, and frame Jeff Tracy as the thief. The Tracy everyone thought was too young to go on missions has to work with his friends to rescue the rescuers.
Is it any good?
Corbett makes for an attractive and appealing hero and the kids have a nice natural chemistry together. Kingsley is clearly enjoying himself as Hood, but the highlight of the movie is the delicious Sophia Myles as Lady Penelope, who is always game to trounce the bad guys while tossing off quips and maintaining her exquisite coiffure.
The action sequences in Thunderbirds are exciting without being too scary. Kids will enjoy seeing the bad guys sprayed with Nickelodeon-style green slime and the way that Fermat uses Alan's retainer to save the day at a crucial moment. The equipment is also very cool, especially Lady Penelope's very chic pink car/plane and Alan's hovercraft. The film drags a bit when the kids are chasing the bad guys all over the island while we are impatient for them to just get on the darn plane, but overall, these Thunderbirds are GO!
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how kids can sometimes feel that their parents don't realize that they are ready to grow up and the importance of listening carefully.
How does Thunderbirds compare with other space-adventure movies you've seen?
Do you like movies with lots of special effects and explosions?
- In theaters: July 30, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: December 21, 2004
- Cast: Bill Paxton, Jonathan Frakes
- Director: Jonathan Frakes
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Science and nature, Space and aliens, Trains
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: intense action sequences and language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.