Being a reasonable fan of Thomas in my youth I decided to watch this film to see what it was like. The first problem of the film is that it doesn't resemble the UK version, with characters and sentiments added for the American audience. This isn't a major problem - only that it affects what I remember from the original series. The plot is very fragmented and is far too hard for very young children to follow; the basic is good but the addition of various characters and such just complicates things. The issue I had with the story was the fact that it is almost totally lacking in any sense of fun or wonder; I don't mean it should have been hilarious but it should have been at least enjoyable. Instead, there is no sense of fun here - it is very plodding and makes it nigh on impossible to stay with.
The animation is basic but is more or less true to the original series; downside of that is that the trains all look rubbish - with the eyes being the only bits that move (constantly). However the film straw is the fact that the cast are pretty poor. The voice work on the trains is very simplistic and it just made all of them sound the same. Peter Fonda is awful and can't even muster the energy to deliver the most basic of lines (when his granddaughter returns he says `Oh Lily. I'm so glad you're back' with all the emotion of a man reading out his shopping list). It's like he got drunk and woke up to find himself contractually obliged to do this film and decided to not even put in a little bit of effort. Baldwin tries hard and is actually OK because he is at least putting in effort; more than that, considering his tough guy image, this was a strange role for him to play and he does do it pretty well although I would have liked his character to insert more of the wonder and fun that he hints at rather than delivers.
Overall this is a pretty poor film that never really goes anywhere. The plot is weak - too complex for tots and too convoluted for adults to bother with. The acting is roundly poor and the film manages to be totally missing any sense of fun. It's easy to tire of kids films that are full of knowing humour but this is one film that was crying out for a bit of silliness or tongue in cheek humour.