Reverend Awdry’s classic kids’ stories about Thomas the Tank Engine got the big-screen treatment (following the much-loved TV series narrated by Ringo Starr) and a bit of a Hollywood makeover for this adventure. The plucky engine, along with twelve-inch tall Mr Conductor (Baldwin), cute little Lily (Mara Wilson) and her grandfather (Fonda), is determined to save the other engines from a bullying diesel engine.
Unfortunately, it’s all a bit of a mess. Filmed mainly on the Isle of Man, the film has a very British country look to it, yet most of the (human) cast have American accents, which makes no sense. The story doesn’t fare much better – there’s some nonsense about magic dust and a missing train hidden on a secret railway track that is the only one who can stop the bully – while the effects are often irritating (how come the trains can roll their eyes, yet they don’t open their mouths when they speak?). Older fans of the books will be horrified, while very young viewers who like the TV series and the newer DVD movies will just be confused as to what on earth is going on.
Is Thomas And The Magic Railroad suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Young children may find Diesel frightening.