THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE
THE GREAT DISCOVERY
The old town of Great Waterton had been discovered by Thomas, it was all abandoned and ruined as it's been lost for so many years. So they rebuild it in time for Sodor Day. Meanwhile a new engine named Stanley arrived to do Thomas' work, however Stanley was being quite the popular ones with the other engines.
The last special to be using full live action models due to taxation in the UK for animation, the same was said for Aardmann back in 2012, but the UK government manage to stop them to move overseas due to cheaper taxation in America. The same could've been done to Thomas, as well as HIT's other character brands, but at the time, 2007, no one had done such thing and so Thomas was sent to Canada for the CGI switch due to lower taxes over there. So this movie was a great closure towards a great era. Originally Gwyneth Paltrow, Hollywood actor in such films like Disney/Marvel's 'Iron Man' series, was going to be the narrator thus making her the first female storyteller for the series, according to former script executive, Sam Barlow. Though in my opinion, it would've made the special go for 'Magic Railroad syndrome', no offence to Americans, but Americanisation of Thomas the Tank Engine to me is not right, if they were to get a British actress in Hollywood standards, it should go to Helena Bonham Carter.
To me this special is better then 'Calling All Engines!', the morals in it are about friendships and you should never be jealous over someone. The sets are amazing, I really do love the set of Great Waterton being lost and abandoned, a credit to the people behind the scenes they deserve much appreciation.
Stanley, the new character introduced in the special, is one of Sharon Miller/Sam Barlow's most likeable characters, along with Hiro, Victor, Kevin, Belle and Luke. It's also interesting to note that Stanley is a hybrid of a Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST and Kitson's No. 5459 'Austin I'. To me he's likeable for his positive attitude and good sense of fun.
There are some flaws in the film that I find to be a bit critical and one of them would have to be the narrow gauge engines, there scene in particular of the Thin Controller saying 'You will be very busy today!' and yet they've served no purpose and that this scene (above) is entirely pointless, I guess you can imply they were busy off screen bringing material and all but they've served no purpose and there are no narrow gauge track at Great Waterton.
Another criticism I have with the special is Peirce Brosnan, when I first reviewed the movie I thought he sounds good, but after seeing it again since 2013, I still remember parts of the movie of course, I got bored of his narration. There are times were he shows some enthusiasm but in other parts he sounds bland and boring. I can tell he's a good actor and of course he was doing a good job but his narration gets boring in the end. The reason they've done Brosnan was to give Thomas an international voice but it didn't work out well in the end, which was refereed by Sam Barlow, and so I believe that's why they've brought back Angelis and Brandon for S12.
It's also great too the amount of characters that were used too, either they have a cameo, minor or big role. The songs were nice and catchy too and this was the last time that the children choir were used for Thomas songs and to be honest I think it's a good idea to finish them. There singing was getting bland and their enthusiasm was growing weak and I believe some of them can't even sing. So bringing in the idea of an adult singer from here to the CGI era is a much better idea, I believe for adults to enjoy too? 'Thomas You're The Leader' is a catchy song but looking back at it, the lyrics make it sound like an extended rap version of 'Engine Roll Call', not that I'm saying its bad but it feels extensive.
In the end it's a good special to bring a great era to an end. I've said it before though that by this time the models and sets were getting to be a bit of a bore and repetitive as well with the camera angles too, yes Nitrogen Studios did the same but the models did as well. I've enjoyed the special though and it was my number one favorite. But I mustn't say anymore I will spoil it.