Thomas and the Magic Railroad
For almost two decades, a lively little train named Thomas the Tank Engine has been taking families on journeys of the imagination. The star of two television series, Thomas now speeds off to the big screen with his biggest adventure: a thriller for preschoolers set at a crossroads where a magical toy world meets up with the everyday world of human wishes.
For as long as anyone can remember, the Island of Sodor has been a realm of magic and innocence. But now Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends are being threatened by diesel engines like the surly Diesel 10 and his sidekicks Splatter and Dodge.
This delightful musical adventure combines live action, digital effects and traditional model animation with a well-told story. A funny, gentle film aimed at the most neglected audience, the preschoolers, “Thomas and the Magic Railroad” contains positive messages about friendship, loyalty and self-sacrifice. But it never preaches. It makes those characteristics seem desirable and attainable.
During a press junket for the film, I was able to ask Ms. Allcroft how she was able to convince Alec Baldwin, Russell Means and Peter Fonda to participate in a film so unlike anything they had done before. She said that they each were looking for a film to do aimed at children and liked this script. Mara Wilson, on the verge of turning thirteen, was very excited to be a part of this production. She told me she had read most of the “Thomas” books when she was younger and was still fascinated by its whimsical qualities.
Like “Pokemon” and “Barney,” “Thomas” quickly captures the attention of little ones. What’s more, writer/director Britt Allcroft proves that a children’s film can hold the attention of little ones without the violence, cynicism and punky attitude associated with much of today’s politically incorrect entertainment, including TV’s animated “Powerpuff Girls.”
The technical aspects are all top drawer, and Mara Wilson (“Miracle on 34th Street”), although getting very close to that awkward stage, still pleases. A charming film parents will enjoy with the little ones.