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.