International Rescue prevents several disasters connected with the Zero X program of manned Mars missions. Meanwhile, Alan Tracy of Thunderbird 3 feels that he is undervalued in the organisation,
The first big-screen spin-off from Gerry Anderson’s much-loved puppet action series, this puts on screen the kind of action, effects and excitement (not to mention terrific toys) that would not become commonplace until after the Star Wars s-f boom of the 1970s.
The main story thread, which would be continued in the next Anderson TV series (Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons), is the Zero X space program of manned expeditions to Mars; after one test launch ends in the disastrous loss of the ship thanks to the intervention of a bald master villain, International Rescue foil a further evil scheme to infiltrate the crew. However, the most impressive sequences are time-outs from the plot: a wonderfully silly ‘69s dream in which Alan Tracy goes on a date with posh Lady Penelope to the Swinging Star orbital night-spot, and is entertained by Cliff Richard Jr and the Sons of the Shadows (their song includes the wonderfully silly line ‘the man in the moon will jump on you if you don’t love me no more’), and a creepy encounter with hostile Martian fire-spitting rock snakes.
Traditional Thunderbirds business comes into play in the suspenseful finale, as the Zero X suffers re-entry malfunction and International Rescue have to deploy their machines to rescue the crew – as was typical in the show, vastly expensive technology is abandoned in an instant (the Zero X crashlands in a small town) and human life is paramount.
- The immediate sequel, Thunderbird 6, lacks this picture’s sprawling scope, but has a better plot. Both are a great deal more fun than the contemptible live-action film from 2004. *
Big in its day and still charming and nostalgic now.