Hans Zimmer,
(Universal Classics, 2004)

Most of this soundtrack to the summer 2004 movie Thunderbirds is by Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, The Last Samurai, King Arthur). With those epic-style movies in the composer's credentials, you should have a notion of what you'll hear -- primarily epic-style tunes that inspire heroic action. Some tracks, such as "International Rescue," "The Hood" and "Junior Mission," fall right into that expected mold for a summer popcorn movie theme.

However, there are a few surprises that infuse some versatility into this album. For instance, "Fafafa...No Way!" has a bagpipe type of sound injected into it, not unlike a Braveheart riff. Another track, "Thunderize," lives up to its title and definitely evokes some kind of action (that is, if "thunderize" is a real verb). The thing is, it sounds sort of hokey, not unlike the Star Wars-inspired disco tunes from the late '70s and early '80s.

As far as summer movie soundtracks go, this is actually a pretty decent soundtrack, much of it like an updating of the cinematic Western themes. (Of course, that's discounting the Celtic-esque and sci-fi/disco qualities.) Take the fun arrangement of "Lady Penelope to the Rescue," especially its nice percussive pacing. In your mind, replace the cowboys-on-horses with children-in-rescue-vehicles. (It helps to have a slight knowledge of the film prior to this imagining.)

The final track, a cover of "Thunderbirds are GO!" by British group Busted, is just what it sounds like -- a cover of the television theme song. It's adequately performed but won't be more memorable than the closing credits it was recorded to accompany.

As long as you place this album in the proper context, as a summer/popcorn movie soundtrack, then you should really enjoy Thunderbirds. It's entertaining and versatile when least expected. And it's probably much better than the actual movie.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 12 March 2005

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