Thunderbirds Are Go & Thunderbird 6 review

Was the big screen a step too far for Gerry Anderson's sci-fi puppet show?

Having already conquered the small screen, Gerry Anderson's iconic puppet show targeted cinemas with two feature film outings. Thunderbirds Are Go (1966) has International Rescue called in to oversee the launch of the Zero-X spacecraft due to fears of sabotage. Following this, Thunderbird 6 (1968) involves The Hood gaining control of a futuristic airship as part of yet another plan to acquire the secrets of the Thunderbird vehicles.

Sadly, outside of the excellent model work and special effects, neither title makes any real use of the extra scope afforded by being produced for the cinema. Instead, both simply feel like regular episodes of the TV show that  have been needlessly padded with 40 minutes of extraneous material. Thunderbirds Are Go is particularly guilty of this – there's a mind-numbingly dull 10-minute sequence of the Zero-X being assembled for flight and a later dream sequence/musical number featuring puppet versions of Cliff Richard (Jr) and The Shadows.

Thunderbird 6 is a little more entertaining, making room for some actual characterisation between all of the spectacle. But even this can't paper over the issues concerning the film's plot and pace. Still, as far as fans of the series are concerned, it's the technical accomplishments of Anderson and his team that make these movies enjoyable. And, if nothing else, they're much more fun than the abominable live-action flick released in 2004.

Picture: The two films arrive on Blu-ray with 1080p encodes framed at 2.35:1. Technically, the two Blu-rays look very similar, with saturated colours and strong detailing being offset by the particularly thick grain that typifies the Techniscope two-perf film format. More importantly, dirt, scratches and other print damage is negligible at best.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: Both films come accompanied by DTS-HD Master Audio presentations of their original mono soundtracks and more recent 5.1 remixes. As the latter still remain fixated on the centre channel for the most part, with brief explorations of the surround speakers feeling rather unconvincing, we recommend sticking with the mono tracks.
Audio rating: 3.5/5

Extras: These Blu-ray releases pack in plenty of extras including chat-tracks by Sylvia Anderson and director David Lane, isolated music tracks and retrospective videos (keep an eye out for HCC writer and Anderson expert Richard Holliss). Curiously, one 14-minute interview – Gerry Anderson's Countdown to Thunderbirds – is repeated on both discs.
Extras rating: 3.5/5

We say: Decent hi-def treatment of two disappointing cinematic adventures for International Rescue

Thunderbirds Are Go/Thunderbird 6, Fabulous Films, Region B BD, £20 (each) Approx