Wednesday, 23 July 2014

NWR Editorial: Thomas the Sexist, Racist, Communist Tank Engine?


As I said back in 2013, these comments on Thomas the Tank Engine are nothing new. This week in 'The Guardian' an article wrote by a mother saying the same thing we've heard countless times for years since the popularity of the television series. Thomas the Tank Engine is a 'bad show' because it shows racism, sexism and communism towards children. Here are some points from the articles and my rebuttal against them:

'Inevitably, the trains get in a fight with or pick on one another (or generally mess up whatever job they are supposed to be doing) until Hatt has to scold one of them about being a "really useful engine", because their sole utility in life is their ability to satisfy his whims. Yeah, because I want to teach my kid to admire a controlling autocrat.'

The Fat Controller is like a parent to the engines, if they mess up a job or teasing or even not doing as they are told he disciplines them. The classic series (S1-7) shows that while the newer series (really S13-16) shows none of it, two episodes of that is 'Play Time' and 'Charlie and Eddie', both of these episodes feature the new character, at the time, Charlie, an engine who wants to have fun and doesn't want to do work on the railway. In 'Play Time', he persuaded Thomas to play rather then take Alicia Botti to the town hall, because he's no fun. So Thomas wants to prove that he is fun. This episode shows a poor example towards kids giving the moral 'Play is better then work' and this features the main protagonist. The Fat Controller did talk down to Thomas but no punishment was made (usually a punishment for an engine is either shunting trucks or staying in the shed). 'Charlie and Eddie' is about Edward not being fun according to Charlie because he's old, pretty much 'Play Time' again. At the end, the Fat Controller scolded Edward for messing up his car and for being late and not Charlie, who was the cause of it all. 

Now looking at a classic episode, 'The Sad Story of Henry', the Fat Controller punishes Henry for only thinking about his looks, as he worries about the rain spoiling his paint, over for what's important, through a railway perspective it's the passengers, by bricking him up, a bit like a parent telling their son/daughter to go to their room and think about what they've done. Plus in the recent modern episode, 'No More Mr. Nice Engine', the Fat Controller scolded Diesel for not looking after trucks in a proper matter, a lot like a child not looking after his/her's own things, such as a pet. If the Fat Controller's a dictator for being a father like figure to his engines, I hate to see a parent being classified as a dictator for discipling their child. 

'Well guess what? It's not OK. You think a little boy watching Thomas is going to file away the lesson that pink is OK for boys?'

In the article she was showing 'Tickled Pink' as an example for James being teased at for being pink, while I do like the episode because of its realism of an engine having an undercoat, it is rather a weak episode, considering that is this from S13. However the hypocrisy of this is just laughable, the colour pink is considered as a stereotype for girls, as its seen on princess dresses, Barbie dolls and other girl related items made by toy companies to sell. In fact, according to Stephen Fry, probably one of the smartest men from Britain in the 21st century said on 'QI', great show with excellent facts and great humour too, says that at the turn of the century, the colour for boys was pink and for girls it's blue. These were the colours back then. Yet she's against all the stereotypes of Thomas in this article. According to this blog though, there are boys who do like the colour pink and it's just like girls who like the colour blue or red. Earlier she wrote this:

(For the record, all the "villains" on Thomas and Friends are the dirty diesel engines. I'd like to think there was a good environmental message in there, but when the good engines pump out white smoke and the bad engines pump out black smoke – and they areall pumping out smoke – it's not hard to make the leap into the race territory.)

This is just like the article in 2012 were one 'journalist', I gave her and this one speech marks because she's not worthy of the title, thought Bulgy was a red double decker bus and that's communism screaming, when really Bulgy is based upon a London double decker bus. She's pretty much implying that there is a 'race war' on the Island because of different smoke..First off steam engines pump out both black and white steam and the 'smoke' coming out from diesels is exhaust and usually it's either grey or a bluish purple. The real reason the steam and diesel engines have a rivalry is because at the time when Rev.W.Awdry wrote these stories, the Railway Series, diesel engines were coming as British Railways was in favour of modern traffic and the steam scene was fading away, as he grew up in that time. He sees diesel engines as pompous thing because, as many enthusiasts will tell you, engines have personalities, and that is how the characterisation of Diesel is made. Diesel engines were new towards the steam engines and they were biased towards them, but Rev.W.Awdry and his son had introduce some nice diesels in the series to show us that we shouldn't be biased towards them over one who was arrogant or boastful as there are good ones out there. Besides most diesels like BoCo, Rusty, Mavis, Bear, Pip and Emma and the other diesels who're introduced as TV only characters showcase that there are nice things about them and that they respect the steam engines presences. The diesels aren't the only villains in the series, there is one who is the pompous Spencer a steam engine, who once put down an old engine called Hiro in 'Hero of The Rails' because he's old and 'heap of scrap', however he was also punished by falling into the muddy marsh, however was saved in the end. There's even a villain on roads, yes Bulgy the red double decker bus also was a villain against the steam engines and wants the railway to be ripped and was punished rightly because of his lies. There's even George the Steamroller for the same reason and was punished in S5's 'Bye George' for his carelessness towards the railway, such as rolling tarmac over the rails which caused Thomas' derailment and blocking Duck's way which caused one of his trucks to block the line for Gordon. These other villains outside of diesels, minus Spencer who was a TV only character, were made because in real life railways and road were in competition with passengers and goods, since the end of the second world war as former British solders were qualified for driving lorries after driving vehicles during the second world war and that the highways were being built. 

'And that's not even to get started on the female trains. Well, actually it's hard to get started on them, because they barely exist.'

As I stated last year, there are about 46 female characters and counting, according to HIT Entertainment over the quarrel that their's a lack of female drivers on the railways in the UK because of the lack of females in Thomas the Tank Engine. The 46 female characters, all combined together from the television series and Railway Series books. The sexism card is not new in stuff like this. In the Railway Series, they were used for the first four seasons of the show between 1984-1995, book from 2011, 'Thomas and His Friends' a pair of HST 125 intercity trains called Pip and Emma replaced Gordon as the express engine due timetable. 

There are female coaches in the series, such as Annie and Clarabel and the ones used on the Skarloey Railway. 'Peter Sam and the Refreshment Lady' is an example of that as the coaches keep the engines in line like a mother figure, the same can be said about Annie and Clarabel, Thomas' coaches, this can be seen in the books as well as in the television series. Plus the coaches need an engine to pull them. There has been many female characters introduced such as Daisy a diesel rail-car, Caitlin, an express engine from the mainland, Mavis, a quarry diesel and of course Belle, a fire fighting engine, all of these female characters for example are doing male prominent jobs. 

Emily was only placed in the 'Steam Team' song because they need a main female character so as not to be sexist. 
This 'article' is nothing but filled with flaws that has been done to death before. These stories, that were used in the RWS books, have been written at a different time and the television series used those stories for adaptation. These comments have been said by many in the past and I'm sorry that these parents' children can't enjoy a simple childhood as these parents have nothing to do all day then overanalysed children's shows so their young kids won't have 'satanic messages'. Political correctness is of course here to stay but it's been abused too many times. However a show like Peppa Pig also shows the stereotypes of boys, George Pig wears the colour blue and loves dinosaurs, pretty much a stereotype for boys and that overrated kids show is getting so much praise that it even has its own channel! Heck it was number six on the 50 'Greatest' Kids Shows on Channel 5 in the UK. Well it too has its criticism, such as misinterpreting a word with a thick accent from 'rocking' to a swear word and that Peppa and her family weren't wearing seat belts in a car. My second oldest sister watched this show when she was young and she was never bothered by the lack of females and I've seen many female children at Thomas days and not once have I heard them say, 'Mummy, daddy why aren't there girl trains?'

And that's my rebuttal.  

Monday, 21 July 2014

Movie Reviews Revisited: Blue Mountain Mystery (2012)


Written by
Sharon Miller

Directed by
Greg Tiernan

Produced by 
Ian McCue (HIT)
Nicole Stinn (Nitrogen)

Release Date
3/09/12 (UK)
18/09/12 (US)
19/09/12 (AUS)

Paxton had been battered by rocks at the Blue Mountain Quarry and so Thomas was ordered by the Fat Controller to take his place while he's away. While Thomas was working with the narrow gauge engines, he noticed a small green engine who'd been hiding at the quarry as he was scared for what had happened long ago.

I've seen this movie in UK with friends such as Chris Tomson, CombineHarvester, ThomasFan8 etc. at Westfield Stratford, which was the location for 2012 London Olympic games. It was the first I've travelled overseas with my family. What I was surprised when I first saw this film was that there was a prologue, a foreword before the actual story starts. We take a look around the Blue Mountain Quarry, which is based on the many slate quarries around Wales, which is where the basis of the Skarloey engines, minus Luke, are based from and we meet two new characters, Owen and Merrick. While Paxton, who's talking for the first time, was taking some slate trucks to the docks, a giant keystone from 'Bloundin' Bridge' had come loose and the bridge is deemed unsafe, however Rheneas is coming down with some heavy trucks and so the siren blared, however Rheaneas didn't know why the siren was 'sounding'. There are more words then 'sounding', you can say blaring or wailing. With the way the climax was made, I think it would've been better if say Rheneas had failed brakes and that he can't stop. But I still think what was written was good, but the one I've mentioned would've a much better climax.
Rheneas made it down safe but Paxton was damaged from the wreckage and this is where our film starts, we see a beautiful shot coming down towards Thomas' branch line, yes that was mentioned again since S14 or 15? And we meet another new character, Winston, the track inspection car. When I first saw the film I thought he had no persona, maybe that's S17 coming through my head. Looking at Winston, he's calm and cool and he always stay positive by saying 'early days'. However how the way he was introduced was done poorly, as I've stated before, it's important for a character to have a reason and Winston just has no reason to be on the island in the first place. All we know that he's a track inspection car. We don't know any reason why he was needed, was there just a lack of inspectors?, Sodor is in need of one by a railway inspector? Don't know he's just on Sodor to sell toys.
The Fat Controller told Thomas to take Paxton's place at the BMQ while Paxton's away and that Toby will look after his branch line, to me that's very Awdry-esuqe as Toby works on Thomas' branch line in the Railway Series books. After Thomas met up with Paxton, who was on a low loader hauled by Emily, Thomas arrived at the BMQ and we meet the narrow gauge engines in full CGI and there welsh voices.
The CGI version of the Skarloey engines, as they're more known to that in the Railway Series books, are spectacular and had much detail from the works of Nitrogen, who've visited the Talyllyn Railway to research the basis of the engines. To be honest, the CGI counterparts are better the models, incoming hate mail now. It doesn't mean I hate the model versions, but comparing those to the CGI version, they make the model counterparts look bland, uninteresting and toyetic to look at. We never see a handrail bar on Skarloey's front nor his sandboxes done in a proper way, like in the RWS books. Peter Sam's funnel is another one I like, his giesel funnel is actually like the one he was fitted in the RWS books. The model version is more of a pipe shaped funnel and it looked bad since S4. Plus I find the whistles more fitting as well, as I've been to Talyllyn Railway back in 2012 and one of the engines, Dolgoch, had a whistle almost similar to Rheneas'. Plus I love it how the script gave a little education about the NG engines, maybe Andrew Brenner, who was the script editor of the special, put that in. If it weren't it probably be rhyming and alliteration everywhere. 

One thing I don't like in the scene, and probably the movie, is how the way Rheneas was handled. He's more like a little kid rather then being a wise engine and moaning about that he needs a new coat paint. Rheneas is the same age as Skarloey and should be in a wise persona, maybe the runaway prologue could've worked with Sir Handel maybe? We're then given a song interlude, which was surprising at the time as there hasn't been any since 2008. I think it was fitted in nicely, take a break from the story and have a song to listen too. After delivering the slate that night, Thomas worked at the quarry the next day and to his surprise, he saw a little engine called Luke, it turns out he's been hiding around the quarry after he did something bad long ago and is in fear of being sent away. After questioning Rheneas, Sir Handel and Rusty about the engines' presence they said nothing until Skarloey told him after Luke had hid himself in the tunnel, saying that if anyone finds him after his mishap he would be sent away from the Island of Sodor for good. 

Luke is another of Sharon Miller's likeable characters, though it could be Andrew Brenner's way of creating such a good character? Although in his flashback he was shipped to Sodor, he was given no reason though. But the characterisation is so good, kids can feel for his worry and will feel pity for him. Plus unlike Hiro, he has a reason to be worried, he was a new engine and he doesn't know much about the thin controller or the engines we as Hiro was worried about being scrapped despite that there are other steam engines on the railway. After being told about Luke, Thomas was pondering on what he did that was so bad to be sent away from Sodor for good (Luke) so he asked his friends on what they've done that was bad and in a surprising way, we're given recreated footage of classic series episodes of 'A Scarf for Percy', 'The Sad Story of Henry' and 'Down the Mine', I find them great, although some scenes weren't in the classic episodes themselves, but they've created the shot by shot sequence very well of the episodes, a credit to Greg Tiernan. Though to some fans of Thomas, they'll go all negative at this, and it's fine to have your likes or dislikes, but the classic footage aren't in widescreen nor HD and it might confuse kids, who aren't familiar to the classic episodes on the continuation. But it'll get kids interested into watching the classic episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine.
However I don't like the part when the engines were talking about Diesel not being sent away from Sodor, it's a bit of a nitpick here, but Diesel has been sent away from Sodor many times, 'A Close Shave', 'Diesel Does it Again' and 'The World's Strongest Engine'. Maybe it's put there to show that even the engines that have done bad things aren't sent away, though they've chosen 'Misty Island Rescue'. So Thomas returned to the quarry and Skarloey almost backed into Rocky and yet says 'You saved my cab.' and another nitpick is what about Skarloey's crew? They could've been hurt or killed in such a dangerous environment. So after that Luke knew that Thomas was OK and apologised for hiding from him, as he doesn't know him and was scared and so they've turned into friends. Just then news came to Thomas that Paxton was repaired and is set to work at the quarry again. Thomas asked Luke why he was hiding at the quarry and it turns out that he knocked an engine into the sea, much to Paxton's surprise, who came back and overheard the story. What I liked about Paxton's part of the story is that the moral that is shown here is good for kids about 'jumping to conclusions before knowing the truth.' as Paxton doesn't even know Luke of course. What I also like about the flashback was how the narrator wasn't yammering through it, it was in Luke's perspective and how the way it was made, you can feel sad for the character. Plus this shows kids that you must 'wait your turn.' which in the flashback, Luke was overexcited to be loaded off on Sodor for the first time.
Another thing I don't like is how the way Skarloey ordered Paxton about instead of saying a 'welcome back' towards him. I know he's suppose to be authoritative as he's an old engine but he's suppose to be kind as well. So Thomas searched around the Island to find the yellow engine, as he went he saw that Paxton was talking to Diesel about Luke and so Diesel decided to try and find the Fat Controller about Luke. So after searching around more of the Island, he decided to go to the Steamworks (Thomas) and asked Victor, who spoke in Cuban voiced by Matt Wilkinson, who for the first time dubbed him for the UK/AUS audience. It turns out that he was the yellow engine but was painted red as that what he wanted to be painted in after learning english, it good that they are still showing multiculturalism on Sodor. 
So Thomas raced back to the BMQ to tell Luke about his news, however since that Thomas had told Victor who has no idea who Luke is, the NG engines thought that Thomas has betrayed them as they've told him not to talk to the other engines about Luke's presence. However desperate times called for desperate measures as Diesel and Paxton arrived to find Luke and Diesel told Paxton to find the Fat Controller but Thomas asked Paxton to bring Victor to settle the matter. Another likeable feature about Paxton is that they've stuck with his persona of being gullible but kind and is neutral towards steam and diesel. Thomas decided to climb on Owen to talk to Luke, despite that narrow tracks. Some fans might be saying it's ridiculous and all, but it did happen to a Manning Wardle tank engine back in 1925, I saw in a 'Heritage Railway' magazine back in 2012 after the movie came out. However Thomas ram into some buffers and was dangling dangerously on the cliff with some great climax, but was saved by Luke. In the end, the matter was settled with and Luke was welcomed by the Thin Controller. However there seems to be a bit of an error, it seems that Mr. Percival knew about Luke's presences when he says 'I'm very happy to meet you at last.' maybe it's implied that he knew his presences but didn't know he was hiding. So we're given a celtic style song, which was amazing work by Robert Hartshorne, a post credit scene of yellow Rheneas, which I think turned out good to play a playful trick on Thomas. 

Looking back the movie, it's still good after two years. It has a great plot and climax, the characters are likeable and some fantastic visuals and morals too. This was Nitrogen's last contribution to Thomas & Friends and they've done a great job on the series from 2009-2012, despite the bad writing between S13-16. Well that's all the movie reviews done, I'm not reworking on KOTR as my opinions on it haven't changed. 



Friday, 18 July 2014

Movie Reviews Revisited: Day of The Diesels (2011)


Written by
Sharon Miller

Directed by
Greg Tiernan

Produced by
Nicole Stinn

1/09/11 (AUS)
6/09/11 (US)
26/09/11 (UK)

Percy feels left out as Thomas was spending more time with Belle and Flynn, Sodor's two new fire fighting engines. Diesel knew this would be a good idea to trick Percy into luring him to the Dieselworks at Vicarstown. 

An old farm house was on fire and so Thomas and Percy were to fight it with their amount of water. However it was not too much and so Belle came in to save the day, she's fitted with water cannons. 
Belle's a new engine that've arrived on the Island of Sodor as part of the search and rescue centre team. To be honest the design of Belle was just ridiculous, I know that the animators want to have unique designed engines as characters, but why give a 4MT tank engine water cannons? I remember hearing a locomotive in America had water cannons fitted to its tender once, though I don't recall the type of engine. But it's illogical and the show had shown us that engines run out of water. However they did show that in the movie that she'd run out of water and she couldn't move. Although I do like the characterisation of Belle, she's brave, strong, have a big heart and nice. Something good for the female fans of the show. 
After she ran out of water, Thomas and Percy took her to the Steamworks. The Fat Controller was there too telling her that they must need another fire engine, which where Flynn is brought in, which will be later on. However Belle gives a nice moral towards Kevin telling him that all engines on Sodor are heroes, which is good for kids to tell us that everyone is a hero. However I think this special is forcefully telling us that Thomas and Percy are 'best friends', which gets really annoying. I'm sure kids would already know by now that they are best friends. As Thomas was showing Belle around Sodor, Diesel came up to Percy, who thought it'll be a good to tease Percy.
Diesel is now shown in his devious self again, yes it looks like bullying of course but that's an immoral thing and in the devious category. Belle questioned Diesel that if his kind have a workshop. Diesel told her that they have the Dieselworks but it's not grand like the Steamwork, now we have more superirority from the main protagonist, Thomas, saying the Dieselworks is 'Filled with Diesels, Diesels can be devious!'
Again, steam engines and diesel engines have their rivalry in this show, yes Rev.W.Awdry did make his characters think of the stereotype such as Gordon in 'Main Line Engines' think that all diesels are smelly and oily but after seeing BoCo he thought him as a wonderful diesel, telling us that not all are what they think. But here, Thomas being the main protagonist just doesn't care and it seems that writer have forgotten the other diesel engines that are nice and kind like Rusty, Mavis or Salty for example?
Percy was to take Flynn's hose to the rescue centre and after being rejected again by Thomas, Percy decided to go to the Dieselworks, as Diesel said he'd be a very special visitor there. This is very out of character for Percy, he should know better then not listen to Diesel because of behaviour, which I know they're trying to say don't listen to what others are saying. It could've worked better if it were a new diesel feeling rejected by the other steam engines because of what he is and Diesel was telling him nonsense but Thomas and Percy and the nice diesels help him and tell him that the steam engines do respect diesels, it's just that engines like Diesel give them a bad reputation. It's almost what this movie is but replace Percy and don't make Thomas too judgement about Diesels because of a stereotype. 
So as Percy arrived at the Vicarstown Dieselworks as he was taking Flynn's hose to the rescue centre, he was greeted by Diesel 10, who've we last seen in 'Misty Island Rescue' at the end of the credits. I like it here that he's more like the other diesels on Sodor rather then being a psychopathic engine who wants to destroy engines, his Hollywood persona. However I was surprised that D10 said to Percy, 'It's been a long time!' despite that I hate 'Thomas and the Magic Railroad' it's a bit of a surprise that there is some continuation, plus there is 'Calling All Engines!' 

So inside the Dieselworks we meet Paxton, Norman and Sidney, who would be treated better in two years to come, for Paxton one year. I remember during the promotional advertising of this special, they've given Paxton, Norman and Sidney persona details, toys etc. they were treated as mute background characters. Den and Dart are also there, I'm kinda glad they gave them reason but it's not too much, all we know that Percy never seen them before.

Den and Dart are OK characters and not as annoying as Bash, Dash and Ferdinand. The interior of the broken down Dieselworks is spot on by Nitrogen Studios though with the grimy and grimy detail. Percy noticed how rundown the Dieselworks is and Diesel 10 told him that they've asked the Fat Controller but he only listens to steam engines. That's another plot hole, in previous episodes we see the Fat Controller listening to Diesels such Diesel or Mavis. 
So Percy decided to ask Thomas to ask the Fat Controller to give the diesels a new Dieselworks. I'm going to nitpick here, why ask Thomas to ask the Fat Controller? Wouldn't it be better if Percy go and ask the Fat Controller himself? I guess they need Thomas in the picture as he's the main character. 

Flynn arrived on the Island of Sodor and all the engines admire him already. I like it how he's a road/rail hybrid vehicle, as they are really seen on the railway line. It was also strange to hear his American accent in the UK dub, but I think it's to make him sound heroic but it's also nice to bring some cultural diversity on the Island as well. As of his characterisation, he was more heroic in this then in S15-16 where he is shown as wimpy and inexperienced, some might say 'But that's how Thomas was like when we first saw him.' well minus the wimpy part, but Flynn was already been implied that he's a hero and in S15-16 he was pathetic. S17 was a much more better improvement of him. 
Despite that Thomas ignored Percy, Diesel 10 was cross and they're also in need of a new crane too. Back at the Steamworks, Percy thought of taking Kevin to the Dieselworks as there new crane, later Thomas came to look for Percy and told him that Flynn's hose is not at the rescue centre for him to pick up, as it was hidden by Dart. Another nitpick moment, wasn't the purpose of the hose's deliver for the rescue centre, were Flynn is residing? No explanation. So later that day, after feeling being rejected by Thomas again, as Flynn was in his berth (Percy), he took Kevin to the Dieselworks. One part of the scene was Dart's pointless dialogue 'Dizzy Diesels!' he only says that out of frustration and there was nothing to be frustrated about. 
After spending the night at the Dieselworks, Thomas was worried for Percy and the other engines were shocked the learn that Kevin was missing, although Percy told them that he took him to the Dieselworks. Although Kevin was having fun at the Dieselworks by bashing steel rubbish everywhere, a bit of a bad sign for kids about playing in a hazardous area. Although I do admit the shot were Diesel 10 grabbed the tyre was really good work from Nitrogen. 
So Thomas is to go to the Dieselworks to collect Kevin and Victor went off to tell the Fat Controller, resulting the Steamworks to be unguarded and so the Diesels are to take over the Steamworks so the Fat Controller will listen to the Diesels and Percy is to lead them, bit of a hypocrite for helping the Diesels but the writing made Percy more a mind numbing moronic engine, while Thomas was in the back shed, with Kevin, held by Den and Dart. So Diesel 10 and the diesels took over the Steamworks by bashing into buffers and go crazy, though before that I was surprised that they've followed the Railway Series map, starting from Vicarstown, then through Henry's tunnel and then to Crovans Gate's Sodor Steamworks. However the 'take over' is more dimwitted and immature, it would be more better if it were Diesel 10 telling all of the workmen that the steamworks is under Diesel power now. Plus Percy was somehow shocked that Diesel 10 will never give it back despite that he was the one leading them, it would be better if the Diesels were bullying him and telling him what to do and that he stands up against them, what part of 'take over' doesn't Percy understand? So Percy returned to the Dieselworks to help Thomas, he noticed it was on fire, thanks to the sparks on Diesel 10's claw. Percy got Flynn and Belle and made their way to fight the fire and saving Thomas.
After saving the Dieselworks from certain destruction, Thomas was saved and now he and his friends raced to take back the Steamworks from the Diesels. However the Fat Controller arrived and told off Diesel 10, despite that Diesel 10 wants the Fat Controller to listen to him and his fellow diesels, was a wimp about his presences. Thomas and Percy explained about the state of the Dieselworks and it turns out that the Fat Controller has plans for the Dieselworks to be restored, but things like restoring a work facility takes time, a good moral for kids about waiting there turn. So in the end, the Dieselworks was restored and the Fat Controller tells us that steam engines and diesel engines are equal when they work together and Thomas and Percy's friendship is made up in the end. 

UPDATE 14/06/15: Looking back at the special, it's atrocious. First off it's Percy. While it's great that he got a lead character role it was poorly done. He came off as little cry baby wanting attention from Thomas as he was interacting with Belle and Flynn. Sure it's there for story but it doesn't work, Percy would at least be more accepting towards the friendship between Thomas, Belle and Flynn. The special could've worked better if it were about a new diesel, maybe Paxton his persona was written out in the guide book in 2011, who had come from the mainland and had been hearing false stories that the steam engines hate diesels. It could've worked with Paxton's character development, taught young children about equality and not listening to false stories and I do like the moral from this special as well and it could've worked in the story that I've made up. I said that this was OK at first and despite some characterisation of Belle and Flynn, it is still terrible and it's a shame that it was released the same year as what it would've been Rev.W.Awdry's centenary. It's there with the likes of Magic Railroad and Misty Island Rescue.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Movie Review Revisited: Misty Island Rescue (2010)


 Written by
Sharon Miller

Directed by
Greg Tiernan 

Produced by
Nicole Stinn 

Release Date
7/9/10 - US
30/9/10 - AUS
11/10/10 - UK

A new search and rescue centre is being built on Sodor and it's made of Jobi wood, a strong sort of wood that no wind can tear it down. However Diesel lost them due to his silliness and so Thomas rescued him and as a reward, he is sent to the mainland with there rescue centre. However he landed on a strange island on his way to the mainland. 

This is where the writing of Thomas & Friends went down hill from 2010-2012. There was so much rhyming. According to Sam Barlow they wanted to preserve the literacy heritage in Thomas and although Rev.W.Awdry had put some nursery rhymes as references in his Railway Series books, at least he didn't use them excessively. There are so many unexplained parts in the special and it all started at the first scene when Thomas and the Fat Controller were waiting for Harold to return with the climber. 

What had happened to the climber? Where was he climbing? All we know he was saved and that's it all unexplained, it's important for a character to have a reason. Which brings my next question, why are they making a search and rescue centre? What's the sole purpose of it all? Again no explanation. Plus there's the new character, Captain the lifeboat:
Why was he there and not given a backstory or a reason? I believe the only reason, undoubtedly, is to sell toys and playsets. This the beginning of the 1st half of movie and already there are questions lodging away. 
While the engines are busy working on the new rescue centre, we know what it's been made out of Jobi Wood which comes from Hiro's country, Japan, although it's not a real sort of tree. We are given little explanation on the purpose of the wood from Hiro of course and by the Fat Controller himself, the engine who's the most really really useful will take the wood to the rescue centre and Thomas hoped he would be chosen because he's the most really really useful engine. But Diesel says he's useful too and Thomas said that the Fat Controller a really useful steamie and that Diesel will never be that. 

Thomas the Tank Engine, the star character that children are to look up too, talked down to Diesel by saying he would never be really useful because he's not a steam engine? Yes steam engines and diesel engines do have their rivalry, but this whole part sounds more like a racial view and that Diesel is treated he's a victim after Thomas thinks steam engines are superior towards diesels. When the Rev.W.Awdry wrote Diesel in his book 'Duck and the Diesel Engine' he made Diesel thinks he's superior towards steam engines by thinking he's a revolutionary engine but at least in the end he was punished by the trucks because of his arrogance and showing off. Here he's been treated like a victim. 

So Diesel took the logs to the rescue centre to show that he's special towards steam engines and so we're given a thrilling chase between Thomas and Diesel until he lost the jobi wood and dangling over the end of the bridge and to be honest I think it was a great scene, more like the highlight of the special:
Although as a railway enthusiast I think Diesel was a wrong choice, but at that the time not many diesel engines were shown. However I don't like how they've made Diesel incredibly fast when his basis the 08 class shunter goes about 30mph whereas he goes about 100mph. I know there'll be people saying 'It's a kid show!' while it's true that Thomas is a children's show, children need to be shown some fact and logic it can't always be imaginary. There are 08 class shunters today around the railway network in Britain and various heritage railways that kids can see everyday. 
So Thomas saved Diesel from certain disaster but the Jobi wood was lost forever and he felt 'badly', poor grammar much?, and so as a reward, Thomas is off to the mainland to help out at there rescue centre for making the right decision to stop and save Diesel........why is he needed at the mainland? Again a reason is very important for a character and we're given no reason what so ever. Is there collecting jobi wood over there? That's pretty much the only purpose I have in my mind. 

So the next day, Thomas is heading for the mainland by ship, as if going there by rail is too good for him, Sodor and England are linked together since the Railway Series books. Spencer was being loaded onto the ship as well as he's doing work for the Duke and Duchess of Boxford. Salty came up and told the engines a story about Misty Island, an island filled with strange engines, we'll get to them later. The story was about an engine who used smoke signals to be saved from the island. Later on Diesel came to say goodbye and good luck, as if it's a punishment despite that Diesel was proving to be a really useful engine and that Thomas was one who told him down. However the boat is full and Thomas must wait for the next boat however a raft was placed at the back of the ship and Thomas thought it'll be good to be loaded onto that, despite the dock worker's worry. 

What I don't like here is that the dock worker was all OK with Thomas' idea of going on the raft as he makes 'good decisions', he's an authority figure and it wouldn't hurt if he said to Thomas that he must be patient for the next boat, but if we have that then the movie would be over quick smart. So Thomas was on the raft and head straight for the mainland however, the rusty chains broke and Thomas was drifting away in the middle of the sea and this is where our adventure finally begins on Misty Island.
 As the sun comes up Thomas landed on Misty Island and while he puffs around the mysterious island he hears whistles and wheels rattle and so he ran away and met up with these three:
 Also known as 'The Logging Locos' or as many fans would say 'The Logging Idiots'. These three have no potential whatsoever and the two smaller engine Bash and Dash shared the same trait as Bill and Ben, a pair of cheeky twins. Ferdinand sharing BoCo's traits? That's very undoubtful.They are bland and annoying and Ferdinad's annoying 'catchphrase' "That's Right!' that's been said 17 times! Another thing is there purpose on Misty Island, yes they were sent there as punishment for being silly but Misty Island is more abandoned and forgotten and so what's there purpose of loading logs when not many may've known of its existence?
So while Thomas rested as it was getting dark, the Fat Controller got the word that Thomas hadn't arrived on the mainland and that he was missing. Meanwhile back at Misty Island, Thomas woke up and decided to ask the locos for their help for which they've declined because they are busy loading logs which turns out to be the rare Jobi wood. 

Then we get this very strange and pointless scene, Gordon and the Fat Controller arrived at the waste dump and told him that Thomas is missing and told Whiff to be with Gordon for the search. This scene didn't go anywhere and it lost potential as a good subplot to teach kids about equality between glamour and mess. 
Back on Misty Island we discover that the logging locos burn on oil, due to the fact that they were in a fully enclosed forest area to avoid fire, which lacked the logic of Thomas running there as he's a coal burning locomotive.
Later we see Thomas and the logging locos going over the 'shake shake bridge'. This was actually a mistake on Nitrogen Studio's part while making the film. According to Sharon Miller they've wanted a suspension bridge and yet we've got this hazard. This is the scene were Thomas shows some logic about that the bridge isn't safe then it threw itself out of the window as Thomas said 'Perhaps I was wrong to say no for so long.' after he crossed the bridge that looks like it's about to break anytime now. 

We then meet two cranes such as Hew Haw and Ol' Wheeze that used up all their oil, which is later on in the special. After all the logs were loaded, they set off for Sodor through the tunnel. 
Some fans were saying that this is unrealistic, however there is an underground tunnel between England - France under the English channel and that steam locomotives over 150 years have travelled under the London Underground, they've had Metropolition 1 running through the London Underground system for the 150th last year. The tunnel was blocked with rubbish and the loco's oil all ran out suddenly there was a hole in the tunnel roof and Thomas used smoke signals like in Salty's story and Percy discovered it, though how would they know it's Thomas? There was never any clue or hint towards them at he was at Misty Island and they've could've doubted it, but in the end we want to see a happy ending. Whiff, according to this special knows all the tracks despite he was a new engine three years before, and Percy travelled to save Thomas and Edward, Gordon and James went to the island to find Thomas. 

Whiff and Percy saved Thomas and the Logging locos by bashing into the rubbish, when really four steam engines might've done the job more better and it could've damaged them severely. Then Thomas went back to Misty Island by boat to get Edward, James and Gordon. So in the end, the rescue centre was built and all the engines giggled and jiggled with the logging locos welcomed to Sodor. Meanwhile upon the hill we get this unexpected surprise forshadowing the next DVD special:


This special has a full amount of flaws and bad writing (rhyming and alliteration) that it's easily one of the worst things I've seen, but compare it to 'Thomas and The Magic Railroad', Misty Island is more logical and realistic towards that abomination. It has a good moral about that we can't always be right, but they've showed visually the wrong way such as Thomas going over the bridge because the logging locos persuaded him. The only good that have come out it was the visual animation of Misty Island, which is based off the highlands of Scotland and the logging station, American, the Thomas and Diesel chase and Diesel 10. However those wouldn't save the movie and I don't know why four years ago I've said that this was a great movie, probably I was blinded by the action and wasn't thinking about the story. In the end, it's not the best but compare to TATMRR it's more logical and realistic.