With all due repect to the user who somehow remembers the ancient Republic serials doing a better live action/effects mix that this high-tech Sixties extravaganza, you really won't see the join in Medding's seamless recreation of a British motorway (built in one third scale and mixed with real motorway shots for the climactic Tigermoth escape sequence). Indeed, so realistic is this shot that on the DVD commentary Sylvia Anderson (who spends most of her time pointing out the live action shots vs the model shots, like we really need to know) exclaimes "now that's definitely not a model shot!". Sorry Sylv, love, it is and it's quite likely the best you'll ever see (or be hoodwinked by). If you love Thunderbirds, the Andersons or just damn fine effect work, come worship at the alter of Derek Meddings: see Thunderbird Six.
The plot is simplistic and cliché, but many scenes are lovingly crafted and entertaining in their own right7/10
These films have a certain style and flair, helped greatly by Barry Gray's music. The plot is simplistic and cliche, but has a dash of originality. There is the ongoing Thunderbirds obsession with the form and function of ships and other vehicles. The biplane acrobatics were very well done, and the music playing when the biplane first appears is comical and appropriate. Every scene and transition seems lovingly crafted and there is no doubt that this film is a work of art.
Thunderbirds had made a major impact in British TV, leading to the 1966 theatrical release Thunderbirds Are Go, but disappointing box office returns and lack of interest from major US networks (the show was syndicated in the US instead of picked up by one of the three big broadcasters) caused cancellation of the series. Despite this, one more theatrical film was prepared, and the resulting film has proven to be a highlight of the Thunderbirds epic despite once again suffering from disappointing box office returns.
Thunderbird Six is a vast improvement over Thunderbirds Are Go thanks to a more coherent plot and more plausible action scenes; also adding to the film's quality was the decision to tone down the action scenes in favor of more character interplay.
Most of the cast returned for this final go at the Thunderbirds epic; notably missing aside from David Holliday (replaced by Jeremy Wilken after the first season of the show wrapped up) was Ray Barrett; added to the voice cast was Geoffrey Keen, later to win fame as HM's Defence Minister Sir Frederick Grey in the James Bond series.
"Brains" Hackenbacker (David Graham) has been brought to New World Aircraft, his identity hidden, to make a proposal for a new machine of flight to the company's board of directors. Brains' proposal is to go back to the future - to the era of the passenger dirigible.
Brains' idea is laughed out of the company, but they turn around and build it anyway - Sky Ship One. NWA has invited members of International Rescue for an exclusive round-the-world maiden voyage before the ship enters full commerical service, but Brains is put in charge of creating a Thunderbird Six for Jeff Tracy - an assignment that begins to stress his relationship with the Tracy family.
Much of the film makes use of a reallife Tiger biplane in flight, the Tiger being a special retro project created by Alan and TinTin. With very heavy security, the four IR members invited to the flight of Sky Ship One - Lady Penelope, Parker, Alan, and TinTin - are escorted to NWA's flight base and board the ship.
But unknown to the members of IR as well as to NWA, the crew of the fully-automated jet-powered dirigible have been assassinated and replaced by a band of killers led by a man named Foster, working for a kingpin known as Black Phantom - in reality The Hood wearing a bad hairpiece.
The film then follows the voyage of Sky Ship One as the killers work to position a perfect trap for their passengers as well as International Rescue itself. Along the way Penny, Parker, Alan, and TinTin overfly and visit numerous locations visited by IR in previous rescues - the Atlantic Ocean, New York City, the Grand Canyon, Africa, the pyramids of Egypt, and the Swiss Alps. Here we for once get to see the members of IR able to relax and enjoy each other's company, unaware of any danger to their safety - or are they?
The visits to varied international locales add nicely to the film's atmosphere and allow the buildup not only of suspence but also allow appreciation of the interplay between the characters; this makes the inevitable action scenes and rescue mission all the more gripping and suspenseful as disaster strikes and Scott and Virgil Tracy launch into action.
Without question this is a zenith in the International rescue epic and ends its initial run on a high note.
Having just seen the Thunderbirds (2004) remake, I've decided that Thunderbird 6 is great although I've bagged Thunderbirds are GO in the past (the other movie that spelt the end of the TV franchise). But it brings up the question yet again, like the show, why if International Rescue is to remain secret do the members of it keep going around telling everyone who they are! And why would IR go on this around-the-world trip when it isn't a rescue situation?
Still, I think the sets and special effects are great and parts are suspenseful, but I could've done with less of Alan and Jeff Tracy (two really annoying characters even if they are puppets) and more of the other characters. And Brians' little tiff at Jeff's 'bullying' of him to build another Thunderbird quick smart, reminds me of a workmate who was having a hard time with the boss and who...oh, never mind.
Although "Thunderbirds Are GO" was hardly a box-office bonanza, "Thunderbird 6" came along a year or so later; this didn't set the cash registers a-jingling either, and to be honest it's not hard at all to see why.
Brains has invented a new airship called Skyship One, the inaugural voyage of which a lot of the film revolves around (with Lady Penelope, Alan, Parker, Tin Tin and villains aboard). Jeff Tracy is also convinced that International Rescue needs a Thunderbird 6, and the efforts of the bespectacled stammering one to devise one provide the movie with its best moments - Brains's frustration at Jeff's rejection of all his ideas result in the movie's sole real emotional involvement.
Like the previous movie, this was written by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, and it again demonstrates why they were right to let other people write the scripts for their small-screen ventures; it demonstrates a shocking lack of fidelity to the premise (on the TV show much was made of how the machines and their personnel had to be kept a secret; in the movie not only does everyone know about them, but Lady Penelope actually gets escorted to the Skyship by Thunderbirds 1 and 2!), it's surprisingly cold-blooded - more people are killed in this movie than in the entire run of the original show (we also get to see a series of corpses get dumped from Skyship One and plummet into the ocean. Nice...), and the climax involving the newly arrived Thunderbird 6 is a textbook example of how to drag out something way past the point of endurance.
Barry Gray's music is as good as ever, but the travelogue feel of a lot of the enterprise and the ultimate pointlessness of it all dooms it; if they needed a new craft, why not make it for one of Thunderbird 2's pods instead of a major ship? In "The Rugrats Movie," Didi has a child that stays with the family on the regular show; I hate to think of what would have happened had Century 21 produced a third series of "Thunderbirds" after "Thunderbird 6."