Saturday, 14 July 2012

Movie Review: Thomas & The Magic Railroad

As Australia will begin the world premiere of 'Blue Mountain Mystery', I will be reviewing every Thomas movie this week from 15th - 19th. To start off we begin with Thomas' first feature length film, 'Thomas and The Magic Railroad', but I'm not going Nostalgic Critic style ;) But first:



Release Date: 
July 14th 2000 (UK)
July 28th 2000 (US)

Thomas the Tank Engine (Eddie Glen)
Alec Baldwin (Mr. Conductor)
Mara Wilsion (Lily)
Peter Fonda (Burnett Stone)

Directed by 
Britt Allcroft

Produced by 
Britt Allcroft
Phil Ferhle

The year was 2000, the new millennium. The year were people feared of the Y2K rumours, the year when Sydney was the first city in the world to host the Olympic Games in the 21st century and Thomas the Tank Engine had brought out his first feature length, which was sadly a box office failure. 

(Please be advise that I'm not here to offend anyone as I'm a fan 
of the British version of the show, please try and understand my
opinions to this movie.)

It's a dead giveaway that this movie is focused to an American audience, look at the title 'Thomas and the Magic Railroad', here in Australia and in England it is referred to as 'railway'. Many of the voice actors have come from the US and Canada, due to the fact the US test audience have rejected the UK and Australian voices because they sound old and scary, though in the teser and theatrical trailer, Thomas and Diesel 10 still have the original voices. 

Thomas is suppose to be voiced by John Bellies, a fire-fighter and part time taxi driver from the Isle of Man, who had got his big break. But was rejected because of the test audience not liking the Liverpudlian accent and making Thomas sounding too old. Michael Angelis was given role as Percy and James and also suffered the hands of the test audience in America, as they say he made them sound old and unconvincing. Diesel 10 was to be voiced by Keith Scott, who plays in other kids films such as 'Blinky Bill: The Mischievous Koala' (1992). But was said that he sound gruff and could scare the young audience. 

What else gives away that this movie is focused to the American audience is also 'Shining Time Station', the show that started Thomas' success in the United States in 1989. Many fans of the US would remember the show, but many fans in the UK and Australia at the time would never even heard of the show, minus Ireland, as they have aired the show in promotion of the movie. 

There's some flaws in the movie, first off, their were no drivers and fireman's in the cabs of the engines and I knew that when I was a kid. The only model figurine we get to see in the movie at the time was Bertie's driver and Edward was never shown in the movie, as his model was never finished in time, which was a shame as he is one of the major characters of the show. But it's also a shame that other characters didn't get to the big screen like Duck, Donald and Douglas, Diesel, Oliver, Toad etc. at the time. The only character that did get a cameo role is Butch during the 'Really Useful Engine' song scene. They could be good to be background characters or having a little minor role. Plus, according to many Thomas fan, there is so much more focus towards the humans instead of the engines. Plus there was also the canning of P.T Boomer (Doug Lennox) thinking that he's too scary for kids and also George the Steamroller, who is to be part of Diesel 10's plans, and Cranky the Crane. Plus so many edits were made thanks to the test audience, one example is Splatter and Dodge meeting up with Diesel 10 at a rocky cliff with his face engraved in it, with no explanation why are they here. But it turns out in the Directors Cut that they work at the smelters yard and they eye at Percy and Toby. Sadly, the edits made no sense for the final cut of the movie and that a Director's Cut is around in the Hollywood valut, for information about it, click on the link below to SiF's mini-site about the movie:

I liked this movie back when I was a kid, because it was Thomas the Tank Engine and I knew about the existence of Shining Time Station, the show, thanks to the internet when it first came to the world on the US shopping site 'Totally Thomas', but I haven't seen any of the episodes until 2006 when YouTube was around. Looking at this movie now, I don't like it as much and I can see why. I'll watch this movie for nostalgic reasons. But to be honest I have some positive things for this movie. The soundtrack, Humane Mann really out did himself and have made a good rendition of the original Thomas theme in parts of the movie and even though I don't like this movie very much, I do have a favourite scene and that is the chase scene with Thomas, Lady and Diesel. Highly unrealistic for two tank engines going at such speed, but it add great suspense and fear with the wonderful soundtrack. But sadly, this movie is not worth of a watch, but it will be OK for a nostalgic view if you want to reminisce, but kids who watch Thomas now could enjoy it.

Rating: 1/5

Tomorrow: Calling All Engines! (2005)