Thunderbirds Are Go (1966)

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Released 4-Jul-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Sylvia Anderson (Voice/Prod) & David Lane (Dir)
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-2
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1966
Running Time 89:20
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Lane
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Peter Dyneley
Shane Rimmer
Jeremy Wilkin
Matt Zimmerman
David Graham
Ray Barrett
Sylvia Anderson
Christine Finn
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Barry Gray


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Italian
Dutch
Finnish
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Marines band playing Thunderbirds theme

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Thunderbirds Are Go is the first of two Thunderbirds movies. The TV series of Thunderbirds was going well, so it seemed natural that they make a movie or two.

    I am surprised that I hadn't already seen the movies. I was a Thunderbirds fan for a long time as a child, and I would have expected my parents to take me to any Thunderbirds movie. Perhaps they weren't screened in Australia. Still, I get to make up for it now, and I get to watch the movie in comfort, away from noisy little children (yup, just like I would have been!); DVD is a wonderful thing.

    Some TV shows do not translate well to the big screen - they use different directors, different actors, and different script-writers, and end up with something that is quite different, and emphatically wrong. This movie escapes those traps. It is produced by Sylvia Anderson, who was far more of an influence in Thunderbirds than many suspect. It is directed by David Lane, who directed a number of episodes of Thunderbirds. It has Barry Gray, the composer of the Thunderbirds theme, doing the music, and the special effects are directed by Derek Meddings, another staple of the Thunderbirds team. So there was little risk that they would run off the rails there.

    The plot? Oh, come on, this is Thunderbirds - you know the plot will involve a big disaster, the need for a rescue, and some split-second last-minute heroics saving people from a fiery death. Or something like that. This time around we have the Zero-X project (they come up with some very cool names!). I don't want to say much, because part of the fun is working out what this project is about. Suffice it to say, this movie is well up to Thunderbirds standards in terms of plot, although the plot is a bit bigger, because the movie is longer. Please don't watch the trailer before the movie - it gives away far too much of the plot, and it has one plot element quite wrong.

    There's a standard warning at the end of every movie about no intention to depict any person living or dead - I like the version on this movie: "None of the characters appearing in this photoplay intentionally resemble any persons living or dead... Since they do not yet exist!". Quite cute, and also quite incorrect. In one sequence we see a band playing in a night club; the faces looked familiar, and then I saw "The Shadows" on the bass drum - the marionettes were most definitely modelled on the real members of The Shadows, who also recorded the music for the number they play. After performing an instrumental number they were joined by "Cliff Richard Jr", who looked like, and was voiced by, Cliff Richard.

    I must say that I was quite impressed with the effort they put into the movie - it really is a case of the TV show coming to the big screen in bigger, brighter, form. And in case you were wondering, yes, they managed to hide all the strings in this movie.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer irritates me. It is good. In fact, it is very good, but it is "this close" to greatness without actually making it, mostly because of film artefacts

    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Interestingly, this movie was not made using Panavision equipment and anamorphic lenses. They were going to use them, but found that they could not achieve the depth of field they required to make the model shots look real. They used, instead, the Techniscope process (the same people as Technicolor), which uses spherical lenses, and only the centre band of the 35mm frame. That means using less film emulsion to capture the image, but yields the required depth of field.

    The image is generally quite sharp, despite a fine film grain (inevitable, under the circumstances); things are definitely a bit sharper than the episodes, thanks to the 16x9 enhanced widescreen image. Shadow detail is good and there is no low level noise to be seen.

    Colour is more than adequate, but less than you might see today. This film was completed in 1966, and that is quite obvious from the film stock. Colours are not as deeply saturated as you might hope, but there is not the slightest trace of colour bleed, or discolouration.

    Film artefacts - oh, yes, we have film artefacts. I have mentioned in reviewing the episodes that there are plenty of film artefacts, and I have mentioned above that this movie is well in keeping with the episodes, but I would happily have accepted a deviation in this area. The level of flecks, specks, and other minor blemishes is exactly in keeping with the episodes (were they all kept in the same vault?). There are, if anything, slightly more larger artefacts - the occasional hair or fluff, a blob or two - but they are not hideous - regard them as a sign that you are watching a film that's 35 years old. The compensation, however, is that there are no other artefacts to mention - virtually no aliasing (amazing for Thunderbirds), and absolutely no MPEG artefacts.

    The disc is single sided and single layer, but that's plenty of space considering that the movie is only 89 minutes long. A big benefit is no layer change.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This disc offers a choice of one main soundtrack - Dolby Digital 2.0 in English. I listened to it, and to the only other soundtrack on the disc - a second Dolby Digital 2.0 audio commentary (more about that later).

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. I must make my standard observation - it is very hard to spot any audio sync errors on marionettes!

    The score is from Barry Gray, and that's perfect - he wrote the Thunderbirds theme, and he is the man who makes Thunderbirds sound like Thunderbirds. There's a theme for the Zero X, and lots of incidental music. It all fits together nicely. There is a bonus that startled me a little - at the end of the movie, just as the credits are beginning, we see a human face (it seems so wrong after the marionettes) - it is the leader of the band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, and the shot pans back as he cries out "Thunderbirds Are Go" - I have never seen the theme performed live, and it is quite an impressive sight. They march into a formation spelling out "The End" - I liked it, even though it distracted me from watching the credits.

    This is a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack without surround encoding. I checked that, twice, because there are a number of moments when I thought I heard surround sound. I guess the Prologic decoder managed to extract some surround effects from the mix. The subwoofer found plenty to do, even though it wasn't explicitly supported - there's enough low frequency information in the soundtrack to keep it happy. To be honest, I think I'm happier that they stuck with the original soundtrack, rather than remixing it for 5.1. I haven't given the surrounds and subwoofer scores, because I rather suspect that what you hear will depend on the Prologic decoder (and bass management) in your amp.



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Normally, I get annoyed with the listing of extras / special features on the back cover because they include things like "menu" and "scene selection", which I don't consider extra or special. I have been quite pleased to see a tendency towards listing only real extras. This cover goes too far - it lists as the only extra the trailer. Sure, there is a trailer there, but there is also an audio commentary - I'd count that as an extra, and definitely a special feature.

Menu

    The menu is animated, with sound. It is 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (1:26)

    The trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, not 16x9 enhanced, with DD2.0 sound. I do suggest you watch it after the movie, because it will make you appreciate how well-preserved the movie is. This trailer is covered in film artefacts and almost looks as though it had been filmed through snow fall.

Commentary - Sylvia Anderson (Producer / Voice Actor) and David Lane (Director)

    This is a gem - a commentary that is informative, and interesting. Sylvia Anderson introduces herself as the MGM lion roars. She and David Lane talk fondly about the movie, and about the people involved. I thoroughly enjoyed this commentary, and I suspect I will be listening to it again (not all that common - I often listen to a commentary just once). There were some nice details - there's a handwritten signature from Lady Penelope which is Sylvia Anderson's writing (appropriate, given she was the voice actor for Lady Penelope). 

Stills Galleries

    There are two galleries of stills, broken into promotional artwork and posters (20) and Behind-The-Scenes (26). The latter are rather interesting, showing the marionettes and the crew together, and giving you a real
appreciation of their scale.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Region 1 has yet to see this disc. Region 2 appears to have exactly the same disc as we do (they got it in April). I'd recommend buying the R4, because it is rather cheaper, particularly given the current exchange rates.

Summary

    This DVD is a rather good transfer of a fun movie. If you like Thunderbirds, this is a good buy

    The video quality is good, particularly considering the age of the film; there are lots of film artefacts, but they don't interfere with enjoying the movie.

    The audio quality is good.

    There are more extras than are promised by the cover.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, July 02, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-737, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics matte white screen with a gain of 1.0 (280cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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