Thomas the Tank Engine's feature film debut follows Thomas and Mr. Conductor (Alec Baldwin) as they cross between the real world and the fictional Island of Sodor, in an attempt to recover lost gold dust.
Mr. Conductor's supply of magic gold dust, which allows him to travel between Shining Time and Thomas's island, is critically low. Unfortunately, he doesn't know how to get more. Meanwhile, Thomas is fending off attacks by the nasty diesel engines. Getting more gold dust will require help from Mr. C's slacker cousin, his new friend Lilly, and her morose grandfather, plus the secret engine he's hidden all these years and couldn't get running.Written by
Jon Reeves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Isle of Mann taxi drive/firefighter John Bellis was originally cast as the voice of Thomas. After his recording was heard by American test audiences, they disliked his Liverpudlian tone as it made Thomas sound too old. The role went to 'Eddie Glenn'. See more »
When Diesel 10 races into the smelter's yard, James' whistle is missing. See more »
Hello. I'm Mr. Conductor, and I'm going to tell you a story about trains, folks far apart, and the magic that bought them together.
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During the opening credits, the actors' names and the film's title are formed by gold dust. When Thomas' credit appears, he is seen puffing across the bottom of the screen. See more »
These are the changes that were in the directors cut. A major character, 'Pete Tiberius Boomer' (short nickname as P.T. Boomer or Pete Boom), portrayed by Canadian actor Doug Lennox was originally portrayed as the main villain, but Boomer was deemed too frightening for younger children and therefore was entirely cut out from the film before its release. Because of P.T. Boomer's absence from the final film, the plot elements that had been driven by him went unexplained.
P.T. Boomer is described in the original cut of the script as being "a drifter through choice" and was intended to be Burnett Stone's adversary, the real culprit responsible for why Lady went too fast and crashed, instead of Diesel 10 as altered in the final theatrical version. Jealous of the relationship that Burnett had with Tasha (Lily's grandmother), Boomer bullied Burnett into allowing him to take Lady for a run and crashing her as a form of revenge. After the accident, Boomer fled Indian Valley and Burnett spent years trying to restore her but,to no success. He returns now a good forty years later a bitter and dark character, hell-bent on completing his revenge by finding and destroying Lady for good.
When audiences complained about him being "too scary" (a weird claim when the secondary villain is literally a Diesel with a giant mechanical claw) he was cut out at the last minute, explaining the laziness of the movie's final cut and Diesel 10 was rewritten as the main villain. This cut was so close to the release, that one of the previews even contained Boomer briefly, falling off the viaduct along with Diesel 10. Coloring books contained references to him by name as well.
Boomer was seen in the movie in the form of two cameos, part of his confrontation with Burnett is seen by a distance as Stacy and Lily arrive in their car. Audibly the scene is re-dubbed so that Burnett is giving directions to a lost biker. The biker clad in an overcoat presents a dark contrast and appears somewhat menacing. Boomer is also visible on the back of Diesel 10's cab during the chase scene toward the end (the original ending had Boomer land on the back of Diesel 10 through the magic buffers).
Because of the cuts, many key scenes that gave Britt Allcroft's original story substance and were filmed with Peter Fonda as Burnett Stone and Russell Means as Billy Twofeathers plus Cody McMains as Patch, were not in the released version because of the references to P.T. Boomer. The movie scenes with these cuts were either edited out or altered. In addition, the test audience made the response that Means' role was hard to understand, Britt Allcroft found this shocking as he hardly was, and he "spoke with the voice of his history". Thomas and the Magic Railroad - Original UK Trailer (1999) Thomas and the Magic Railroad - Original UK Trailer (1999)
VHS trailer for the film, containing original voices.
Various theatrical and home media trailers of the movie had depicted characters with voices largely differing from their voices in the original cuts. During Production, it was widely publicized online that an Isle of Mann cab driver and Volunteer Firefighter named John Bellis was to be the voice of Thomas. Having only heard him utter a meager few words, Britt knew that John was the right man to voice Thomas himself, turning to tell her colleagues "I have just heard the voice of Thomas. The man is exactly how Thomas would sound!" A few days later, she offered John the role, and he accepted.
Despite being flown out to Toronto record all of Thomas' dialogue, American test audiences however thought Bellis' voice made Thomas sound too old and thus John Bellis was canned. Thomas' voice was performed in the final cut by Canadian voice actor Eddie Glenn. Bellis was apparently disappointed by this, and to the point where he refuses to really discuss the matter with fans who have contacted him to ask him about it.
The same trailers depicted Diesel 10 with a gruff English upper class accent, as opposed to the New Jersey accent he had in the theatrical release. Sodor Island Forums ended up digging up the information that Diesel 10 was originally voiced by Australian voice actor Keith Scott. But this voice was deemed too frightening by the American test audiences. Canadian actor Neil Crone was then brought in to do the voice of Diesel 10, where he gave him a Russian accent. This too would fall in the hands when the audiences made the wild claim that it would somehow be "offensive" and Crone revised his voice to a New Jersey accent.
Britt Allcroft revealed that the original voice intended for James and Percy was Michael Angelis, narrator for the UK series from 1991-2012. English actor Patrick Breen originally also provided the voices for Dodge and Splatter. Both of them were canned by the test audiences, with Angelis replaced for the same reason as Bellis. Susan Roman and Linda Ballantyne replaced Angelis as James and Percy respectively, whilst Neil Crone and Kevin Frank replaced Breen.
What was also revealed is that Lily, 20 years later, was originally meant to be the narrator, as opposed to Mr. Conductor (Alec Baldwin) in the final cut. The whole movie was meant to be told by an Adult Lily and Patch (played by Robert Tinkler) to their child, and Baldwin was likely put in as the narrator since he was narrating the US dub of the television series at the time. A scene toward the end shows the family in a panning shot of the Pennsylvania fields. The movie also contained several flashback scenes of Young Burnett (Jared Wall) and Tasha (Laura Bower) which ended up being cut due to some involving P.T. Boomer, such as the dance they have. The scenes are only audibly heard in the movie through Burnett's imagination. See more »
My 3-year old has been in love with the Thomas series for over a year. We read the original stories constantly and watch the videos. It is one of the few series I allow him to watch. In this age of Pokemon and other wham-bam short-attention-span animation, there is something really pleasant about the simplicity and gentleness of the Thomas stories. Perhaps I am too old to understand the new brand of really awful Japanese animation that seems merely like random flashing lights and gives me a headache. However, I feel like I am young enough to enjoy Thomas and the Magic Railroad.
I was quite leery before taking my son to see this film. Everything I had read thoroughly ripped it apart. About half way through the movie I turned to my wife and said, "This isn't too bad. I kind of like it even!" Call it a guilty pleasure.
Sure, the movie has problems. It ain't great art, but my son was thoroughly entranced. It's very sweet and gentle, with the exception of D-10 Diesel, who frightened my kid at first. (There is nothing that menacing in the original Thomas stories.)
There is some atrocious acting, especially by the little boy in the film. Does a toddler care? Nah. Is the plot complicated? Not really. Just a bunch of magical events and talking trains. I was pleased that all the familiar engines are present and have some funny moments, too.
If you have a little kid under 6 or so, take him to see Thomas and The Magic Railroad. This demographic is rarely represented by the movie industry. This movie is quite different from the videos and the original stories and should be treated on its own merits. How wonderful it is to see gentle characters, morals and a relaxed pace in a modern children's' movie. I like the fact that they didn't use computer animation to make the engines "talk". I like the magical elements and I like the goofiness. It is refreshing to show a movie like this to my son and to have him enjoy it so much.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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