Blu-ray slight return: 5,4,3,2,1 edition
Any television series that opens with a countdown, five, four, three, two, one and then informs the viewer that “Thunderbirds are go,” has to at least ask the audience to question their devotion to action fare. Let it be noted that the introduction to Thunderbirds (The Complete Series on Blu-ray, Timeless Media Group, June 9) also notes the show was filmed in Videocolor and made with a process titled Supermarionation.
Thunderbirds is the crown jewel of Gerry Anderson puppet television shows. In a featurette on the last disc Anderson explains how ITC owner Lew Grade made the suggestion that Thunderbirds be expanded as hour-long episodes due to the quality of the pilot. While it’s true that the characters are puppets the series is cleverly written and especially well designed with many of the sets modeled on popular spy and thriller elements from films popular in the 1960s. The show ran for 32 episodes from September of 1965 through December of 1966.
The star of Thunderbirds John Tracy maintains a kind of first response rescue team with craft that range from spaceships to underwater and air vehicles. Tracy runs the unit with his four sons Virgil, Gordon, Alan and Scott, which shows the obvious influence of the then nascent space program since those are forenames of five out of seven of the Mercury astronauts. Additionally there are characters like Brains, Parker and Tin-Tin and Lady Penelope and everyone talks in cool British accents. Kids will saddle up to these space age adventures with the enthusiasm that the small fry bring to such endeavors. Adults will revel in the camp sensibility that permeates the entire affair.
- Spring (Drafthouse Films, Anchor Bay, June 2) unwinds like an indie romance but underneath its sheep’s clothing is a wolf of a horror story. Inventive effects and a creepy tonality enforce the spine. Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hiker star. Spring is available exclusively at Best Buy and will be released through other retailers in August.
- Magician (Cohen Media Group, May 29) takes a revealing glance at the life and film career of Orson Welles featuring clips from all his films, some never released. Chuck Workman, who has won awards for his collage short subjects that juxtapose famous film clips, directs.
- The Pope of Greenwich Village & Desperate Hours (Shout! Factory, June 2) gives the double feature Blu-ray treatment to this pair of ‘80s/90s film starring Mickey Rourke. Those who know know that Pope is one of the unsung classics of this era and possibly the best ever performances by either Rourke or Eric Roberts. Pope has the ability to switch from high drama to laugh out loud comedy at the drop of a hat. Desperate Hours, a hostage thriller, is equally underrated, with direction by Michael Cimino. DH co-stars Anthony Hopkins, Kelly Lynch, Elias Koteas, David Morse, Lindsay Crouse and Mimi Rogers.
— Michael Bergeron