Thunderbirds: The Movie 2004

Thunderbirds the Movie large

Has anyone else noticed how much fans of the original series completely slaughter the 2004 movie? I must admit, I am one such person. It’s got to the point where no one will even watch it with me anymore, because I spend the whole time criticising it and yelling at the screen that they have got it wrong! Why is Alan so much younger? Where on earth did Fermat and Ohana suddenly spring from? Where is that brotherly bond that we all love so much? Where is the focus on the Thunderbirds that we loved so much in the original?

But am I perhaps being too judgemental here? I don’t even remember watching the series as a child, I was that bit too young. Oh, I’m sure I did, I just don’t remember it. So how on earth did I manage to get back into it now? Perhaps we – I – owe the film more than people realise. I think I got hooked on Thunderbirds after deciding to explore that part of fanfiction after watching the film one day just to see what was out there. Imagine my surprise with what I found, and it wasn’t long before I had borrowed – and then bought – the entire original box set just to watch them all again. Before I knew it, I was just another person criticising the film for getting it wrong. The focus on one character is completely different to how the TV presented the Tracys, and it was almost as if the machinery was just in there because they needed to make it more like the traditional Thunderbirds somehow. When you think about it, how many people hate sequels of films because they think that they should have just stopped with the first? But in order to be able to criticise something, you first have to watch it. Meaning that Thunderbirds was once again back in the media and in people’s minds.

This time, however, some of the deliberate changes from the originals were all intentional. The age of the characters meant that it was designed for a younger audience. Considering the target audience and when the film came out, it would have aimed at those who were too young to remember the originals. It brought International Rescue back into the limelight and I’m sure that I couldn’t have been the only one who immediately tried to then find the originals. The film may be wrong, but it still got my attention enough to want more.

Thunderbirds the Movie small
I’ve heard of those who won’t watch the film on principal because of what it did. I’ve heard of those who only watch it because of the actors in it – four of the brothers being slightly older than how Alan was portrayed must mean that there is something to capture your attention there! But no matter what the reasoning for watching it, people still did! It almost doesn’t matter what you thought of it, it still did the trick of getting people to watch Thunderbirds once again. Surely that means it has to be given some credit?

You wouldn’t have been able to bring out a film that was completely based on the TV series in today’s audience and expect to be able to draw in a new audience. True, many of us would have flocked to see it anyway, but if they wanted a young audience who were used to the high quality films that were being produced, would they have really gone to see it? But doing it the way they did it, it guaranteed that Thunderbirds was once being talked about and therefore reinstating the interest that had been present at least a decade earlier. It tried to adapt to a modern audience, and regardless of what we may think about it, I’ve also heard reports of those who love the film just because they don’t know the originals. Surely it is better to make sure the fan-base is there rather than disappearing, even if it has to adapt in order to survive?

If nothing else, it has lead to many debates with most of us reinforcing our point of just how completely and utterly epic the originals are! If something can create that much response, albeit most of it negative, then it has done its job. It’s made us all realise just how much we love the series and wouldn’t have it any other way, even with the dated fashion sense that we are all apparently going to have in the future and the trademark strings!

But I think it is safe to say, no matter what the film did or what people think of it, you are never going to be able to destroy the love for the originals.

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