66 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2005
This movie was by far the worst Thomas production ever made. I was horrified when I discovered that Britt Allcroft wrote it; now we know why she always had a co-writer when she was writing episodes for the TV series, and why she was kicked out of Gullane Entertainment afterwards.
The script is so poorly written that I feel sorry for the trees used to make the paper that it was written on. The Island of Sodor, in the TV series an island off the coast of England that was more or less normal, has been turned into a magical ghost town populated by talking trains and literate animals. Why Britt Allcroft chose to make such a rapid departure from the TV series I will never know. She also filled the script with complicated plot devices that few children will be able to understand (you'd need to be Einstein or Stephen Hawking to figure out the answer to the riddle on the windmill wall), and threw her healthy knowledge of the Thomas characters out of the window (Thomas is portrayed as a goody-goody, Bertie as being annoyingly hyperactive, Henry as being a whiny pain in the neck, and James as being so short of brain cells that he doesn't know what the word "shoo" means).
Usually, bad scripts bring in bad acting, and this movie was no exception. Alec Baldwin's character was so annoying (I'm sure I'm not the only person who wishes Diesel 10 had dropped him off the viaduct), and took the limelight that should have been given to Thomas and the other engines. Peter Fonda's character was the most miserable, depressing character in the history of children's movies. Mara Wilson's character was better, but still seemed like a teenage girl younger than her years. And what was the point of having big name actors anyway? It's not as if little children are going to recognise them.
I also find the film to be overly violent. Diesel 10 is so nasty that it's no wonder little children started crying and asking to leave the theater when he made his first appearance. We're never told why he's evil either, he just comes off as a character who wants to destroy steam engines for no reason whatsoever. In the original series, if a character was evil it was usually for a good reason. In a similar fashion, while characters in the TV series might be evil, they never went further than playing tricks on the other engines and trying to get them sent away. Here, Diesel 10 tries to kill Mr Conductor and Junior in scenes that make me amazed the film got a G rating.
Then there's the fact that the steam engines get what can only be described as outstanding cameos. When I went to see this at the theater, I noticed a lot of little children fidgeting and looking bored during the scenes with the human characters. Really I'm not at all surprised that they were; they came to the theater to see their favorite blue engine and his friends, not a Lilliputian railroad conductor who had lost his gold dust.
Last but not least, what can little children learn from this movie? The TV series episodes all have morals in them, like "don't tell lies" and "don't get too full of yourself." Other than a brief line at the end about helping each other, this movie has no moral value in it whatsoever (unless you count teaching children to be senselessly violent a moral).
In September of this year a second Thomas movie is coming out, albeit shorter than this one and being released direct to video, called "Calling All Engines." Cross your fingers and hope it's better than this turkey.
27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2005
For some reason I can't fathom my daughters love this movie, but sitting through it is painful. The little boy in the movie should consider another career, and Peter Fonda is more wooden than the trains (although if you're in the right mood his performance is almost funny, but mostly it's just painful). Alex Baldwin tried, but the script and the direction kept this movie from being anything more than dismal. The Thomas series is much more entertaining and well-written. Do yourself a favor and don't spend money on this dog.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2000
I just saw this movie last Wednesday with a friend since my mom had a meeting and,Pierce,Paige,Christa,Greg,and I loved every minute of it.All the people in the audience(including us)started laughing whenever Diesel 10[Neil Crone] showed up because we just couldn't help laughing when he said something funny like"Nice day for a cruise"when he's stuck on a boat.Everybody in the audience also laughed at Jr. conductor[Michael Rodgers]in the scene when he was on the shell phone and the scene where he did that thing with his hands.Go see this movie with your family.
36 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2003
I purchased this DVD through Amazon.com in preparation for a trip I recently took with my 2 1/2 year old. He loves Thomas and I thought he'd like this video. I had read that purist Thomas fans didn't care for it, but since we don't have any of the regular videos, I figured it would be okay. What I didn't realize is that there are relatively few scenes of the trains in this video, and my son found the extended dialog between the "real" people to be completely uninteresting. He would actually walk away from the TV, he was so bored.
As an adult, I found the plot to be overly complicated with too many sub elements. The boy and girl characters appear to have been shoe-horned in for a little human interest, but are tedious to watch. Alec Baldwin provides a perfomance that is so bad, I couldn't look at the screen. Peter Fonda didn't do so well either.
This video may entertain an older child, but I highly suggest renting it or checkign it out from the library before purchasing it.
30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2000
Our 3yr old boy loves Thomas. We have all the videos and trains, etc. He wants to watch this thing every day. He repeats lines from the movie and acts them out all day. It was great for him. We took him to the movies to see it together. He loved that, too. For him, we would do it all again in a minute.
As parents, we could have done without the "mean-ness" of Diesel #10 and the fact that he wants to "dominate and destroy". He also uses the word "stupid" several times. Not nice.
As adult movie critics, we saw laughably poor acting (with the exception of "Mr. Conductor" and "Junior". (Notice that even some of the 5-star reviewers agree.) Britt Alcroft directed and wrote it, and it is obvious that she should have asked for help from someone who knew what they were doing. If you pay attention, expect to be confused. We expected more because we actually enjoy watching all of the other videos, and they are really well done.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2005
It seems that many of the reviews here are out-of-context, because the reviewers may not be familiar with the "Shining Time Station" series. Shining Time Station is the program which introduced Thomas and his friends to many folks. But after STS left PBS for Nickelodian, PBS was left with just Thomas.
In Shining Time Station, the role of Mr Conductor is fairly important. He is constantly interacting with folks like Stacey Jones (who is in this movie for a few scenes), Billy Two-Feathers (also in the movie and drives the 'real' train), and the infamous Schemer (notably absent). He is also the central figure for telling the children who hang around the station about Thomas and the Land of Sodor. Depending on season, Mr C was played by either Ringo Starr or George Carlin. It is supposed to be a somewhat responsible - yet somewhat wacky - role, as is everything about Shining Time Station. Alec Balwin clearly studied this role closely based on his predecessors, and I thought did an outstanding job.
OTOH, words can not describe how dreadful Peter Fondas performance was. He seemed to be completely lost in every scene he was in. He seemed to have no concept of Shining Time Station at all. It dragged down the entire movie.
As has been noted in other reviews, small kids won't be able to figure out the plot. By the time kids start figuring it out (say, age 9) they are starting to get too old for some of the movie.
The musical interludes are wonderful. Check out some of the samples from the Amazon page for the Sound Tracks CD. (And yes, Locomotion did appear in the movie - during the credits.)
To a rail buff, such as myself, there were some wonderful shots of the steam train taking Lily (Mara Wilson) to Shining Time Station. FWIW, engine #475 - prominently photographed in the movie - belongs to the Strasburg Railroad in Strasburg, Pa. If you have a good sound system, #475s 'CHUG' and whistle send chills up ones spine.
There were a few railroading problems too. Like how did the coal car that got lost through the buffer end up on a different set of tracks than Thomas was on? Or how did Thomas get turned around after he fell off the cliff? How did Patch manage to bring hundreds of lbs of coal back - on his horse - to fire up Lady? Or during the chase scene with Lady, how did Diesel suddenly switch from the left tracks to the right tracks? Kids won't notice any of that of course.
So in summary, if your kids have seen the Shining Time Station series, it will make some sense to them and why the characters are as they are. If they know about Thomas but have not seen STS, the Mr Conductor (and Stacey Jones and Billy Two-Feathers) characters will be new and a bit, er, different. If they've never seen either one, the movie probably will have a hard time standing on its own - at least for the first couple of viewings.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2000
We were unsure about taking our almost 3-year-old to see this movie after hearing some negative comments about it, but he really wanted to see it so we took him. This was his first theater experience and he sat wonderfully through the whole movie. He absolutely loved it and has been asking me ever since when he can see it again. We have been eagerly awaiting the release of this movie on video. He was able to follow the plot and has been reenacting moments from the movie with his die-cast Thomas, Diesel 10, Lady, etc. ever since. It is a great movie for children, especially Thomas fans. My daughters who are 8 and 6 also enjoyed the movie. It will undoubtably be viewed over and over and over it our house.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2001
My 3 1/2 year old son has been very excited to see this movie since he began getting into Thomas and Shining Time. We rented it and watched it several times over the weekend. He loved it! I think parents should keep in mind that it's obviously meant for very small children . . . Peter Fonda acts the way he does so young children can understand him! Also, the story does a great job tying together Shining Time Station with the Island of Sodor; it's been years since the TV show was actually produced. For all the people who ask why Diesel 10 is "mean"; the Diesel characters have been featured on a number of the Thomas videos, and they've always been mean! Look at the number of reviews here where parents say they didn't like it but their kids loved it . . . well, who's it supposed to be for?
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2003
My 3 year old son loves this movie. He was so excited to see Thomas and Percy and "REAL people" all working together to keep Lady save from Deisel 10. He loves the part where Lady and Thomas run away, and Deisel crashes and gets caught by a boat. He thinks that will "get Deisel out of his bad mood!". We had never seen the Shining Time series, so those people were new to us, but my son was able to follow the story with no problems. I do have to say I think "Grandpa" is a bit too depressed as well. My son wonders why he is not happy to see his grand-daughter and never gives her a hug or smile. But we love Mr. Conductor and Jr. and Patch and everybody else. I see/hear funny new things in this film each time we watch it.
Wish they would make another! Peep Peep!
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2002
Yes, it is for children. No question. But this movie in nothing more than a waste of time and brain cells. Britt Alcroft hit a goldmine with Rev. Audrey's stories, and now thinks she is capable of reproducing it. I have a feeling she meant well, but there is no rhyme or reason to this movie.
Here are the first 15 minutes - A Diesel is terrorizing the trains. No, it's about a girl in the city with a stuffed bird. No, it's about an old man with an engine in a cave. No, it's about Mr. Conductor losing his gold dust. No, it's about Mr. Conductor's nephew who is a beach bum. At this point, my three year old demanded we leave the theatre.
Even though it is for kids, it should have a story that can be followed - logically. But instead, random events and explantions occur, and you must accept it. If there were no people in it, it would be far better. When the engines are on screen, it is very good. But the acting is horrendous - especially Peter Fonda. The trains have better facial expressions as well as personality.
My son, now 4, received the video for his birthday. As a kid who watches Nickelodeon and PBS, he has been brainwashed by corporate tv. He watches this video constantly. I believe kids just love trains, especially Thomas, and will watch anything to do with the Thomas franchise, no matter what the packaging. The appeal for parents is that there is always a quick moral or story for the kids in a standard Thomas vieo, which is lacking from this movie.
Skip this and buy the short videos.