THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO!
Blast off into interplanetary adventure with the first feature-length film starring the International Rescue team: millionaire ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy, his five stalwart sons, the fabulous secret agent Lady Penelope and, of course, their incredibly futuristic fleet of Thunderbird rescue ships! When the mighty spaceship Zero X is sabotaged on its first takeoff for Mars, International Rescue is summoned to provide security for the second launch attempt. But after the ship successfully reaches its destination, it is attacked by rampaging alien life forms! Once again, the brave and resourceful International Rescue team is called into action. Can the team help the damaged ship re-enter Earth's atmosphere and prevent a crash-landing with devastating consequences?
The Tracy team are back in action in another riveting adventure! This time it will take all of their combined effort – and the cunning wit of their colleague Lady Penelope – to defeat an international ring of terrorists who've targeted International Rescue for destruction! While on the maiden voyage of the fabulous new passenger vessel "Skyship One," Lady Penelope is shocked to discover that the original crew has been killed and replaced with a ruthless gang of hijackers who want to use her to obtain classified information about the International Rescue team! As the hijacked super-plane circles the globe on a collision course with catastrophe, Penelope must outwit her captors and send an urgent SOS to get help from her fearless cohorts...before it's too late!
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Thunderbirds Are Go followed the remarkable success of the Thunderbirds television series, bringing the three-dimensional puppet animation adventures of International Rescue to the big screen. Set in the 21st century, there is no attempt to explain the background story: as in the TV show International Rescue is a private family organization who uses high-tech craft to rescue anyone in peril. Here it's the first manned flight to Mars that's in danger, as International Rescue foils a sabotage attempt at the launch, then race to avert disaster when the spaceship returns to earth. What could have made a 50-minute TV episode is expanded to feature length with Martian "rock monsters" and a surreal dream-sequence involving Alan Tracy, Lady Penelope, and "Cliff Richard Jnr" & the Shadows, with a new song performed by the real Cliff and the Shadows. In the theaters, Thunderbirds Are Go was competing against another British children's TV sci-fi spin-off, the equally colorful Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150AD, and would be followed by Thunderbird 6 (1968). Yet apart from more complex model work, a bigger orchestra, and even bigger explosions, on TV this plays like a widescreen double-length episode.
Thunderbird 6 revolved around a new addition to the lineup of International Rescue's five emergency craft. The plot sees Lady Penelope, Alan, Tin-Tin, and Parker as the only passengers on the maiden, round-the-world flight of a futuristic airship, which is hijacked in a bid to capture Thunderbirds 1 and 2. From the moment Alan arrives on a Bond-style jetpack, the film veers away from the TV show into espionage adventure territory, and while the only people International Rescue rescues are their own members, they kill a fair number of bad guys. The global tour means there are more locations than ever, and though the story takes a long time developing, the Die Hard-on-an-airship finale delivers the most explosive set piece of Gerry Anderson's career. As for Thunderbird 6, opinion remains divided as to whether it's an ingenious twist or a disappointing gimmick, but the movie's blend of model and live-action footage results in two superbly staged stunt sequences. The Andersons would make one further feature film, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969). --Gary S. Dalkin
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