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Movie Review

Thomas and the Magic Railroad

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Children
Genre:
Children/Family
Length:
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
2000
USA Release:
_____
Thomas the Tank Engine in “Thomas and the Magic Railroad”
Featuring: Alec Baldwin, Peter Fonda, Mara Wilson, Didi Conn, Russell Means
Director: Britt Allcroft
Producer: Phil Fehrte, Britt Allcroft, Phil Ferle
Distributor: Destination Films

Viewer Comments
Alec Baldwin as Mr. Conductor in “Thomas and the Magic Railroad”
This movie proves once again that Hollywood has completely forgotten how to write childrens movies. The plot is at the same time disjointed, obvious, and absurd. The antagonist is a moron, but smarter than the protagonists. Acting is nonexistant (or all to obvious). Magic exists as gold dust and reflections of light on wet streets. Overall, the movie seems faked, as if the director just started shooting scenes without a script. If you are doing a case study on badly written and produced films, see this movie. Otherwise stay home with your kids and read the Chronicles of Narnia. My Ratings: [3½/1½]
—Paul Spooner, age 16
My 3½ year old son is a Thomas the Train fanatic. I brought him and my 7 year old daughter to see this film and I was not impressed! When they made this film they were not thinking of keeping a 3 year olds attention. My son loved the parts with the trains, but the storyline was too hard for him to keep his attention to it. he was bored and was getting bouncy not to mention half the 3-4 year olds in the theather. Mind you my 7 year old hates Thomas, but loved this movie. She understood the story line. The actors are terrible, Baldwin wasn’t too bad, A lot of magic which I usually keep my children away from, but, they understood it was “pretend” almost like a fairy tale. I think this film is to confusing for small children. My Ratings: [3½/4]
—Nicole Kaine, age 30
I had the eerie feeling throughout this movie that its producer, director, writer or perhaps all were using psychadelic drugs. Then there’s the insatiable need for the magic “gold dust.” What if anything does this have to do with our beloved Thomas the Tank Engine?? But I hesitate to criticize this harmless movie—if you can overlook the “magic” and new-age type themes—my 7 and 4 year old actually watched pretty intently and even my 2 year old who is the biggest Thomas fan sat still through the entire thing—despite that it wasn’t familiar like the real Thomas. I was unable to actually follow the story, but the little sparkling effects and a few good train sounds as the trains enter the magic buffers and a creative scene after entering the magic buffers were compelling and apparently entertained my kids. Rough on adults in a boring way. My Ratings: [3/2]
—Betsy K. Williams, age 35
I would not recommend this movie to young children who are easily scared. I brought 4 children ages 4-6 to see this movie, and 3 out of the 4 were scared several times throughout the movie. The plot is very confusing and hops around the story line. I was pleased that there was no name calling or degrading behaviors, but the antagonist can be very scary and mean. I would not recommend this movie to young or timid movie goers, and feel that the good message in this movie is overshadowed by extreme visual fearful scenes and a convoluted storyline. My Ratings: [3/2]
—Lisa G.
I took my two year old daughter to see this movie. I thought it would be much like the television show, harmless and entertaining. I was quite disapointed. The movie was very full of “new age” references, referring to the railroads “energy” as the source from which it draws its power. It also is centred around “magic” and “powers” which although I don’t have a problem exposing my daughter to “pretend” magic and using our imaginations, the kind of magic in this film left me with an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I also felt that the acting in this movie was horrible, the kids in the movie recited their lines as though there was camera prompting on every word. There were some mildly entertaining moments from Baldwin, who seemed very animated and as though he were reading a bed time story to his children. Fonda on the other hand was as bad as the kids in this film; his lines seemed forced and unnatural, and I know it’s a movie for kids and they would never know the difference, but if you’re going to call yourself an actor then… act! If you are in anyway sensitive to your children being exposed to magic or witchcraft, then be wary, this may not be the movie for you. My Ratings: [3/1]
—Tiffany Williams, age 23
A disappointing film. My family and I are fans of Thomas et al, and really appreciate the quiet morality of Rev. Awdry’s stories. “Thomas and the Magic Railroad” tries to replicate the charm of the original stories (and animated films) and succeeds at times, but overall, the story is weak and except for Alec Baldwin and the woman who plays Stacy Jones, the acting is awful (especially Peter Fonda’s). The film might be worth the price of a bargain matinee ticket; just don’t expect too much. My Ratings: [4½/2]
—William Netherton, age 43
I brought my son and nephew to see Thomas the the Train in action. The plot and story were awful. I felt sorry for Alec Baldwin, who lost his magic gold dust, playing the part of the conductor. If you think you are in for 89 minutes of trains your mistaken. The story is more about the actors than the trains. The trains were only seen for about 1/3 of the film. Which can make for a long film when you brought your kids to see Thomas. There are some good shots of the trains at times, but those times were too few and too scattered. Poor showing, stay home and watch Barney.
—Todd Holzmann, age 29
Movie Critics
…lots of good lessons and fun moments for everyone…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…A few scenes have the potential to be unsettling, suspenseful or even scary to the youngest of kids…
—ScreenIt!
…Baldwin looks like he’s having a lot of fun, while Fonda looks like he’s having a slow-motion stroke…
—Gene Seymour, L.A. Times
…doesn’t live up to the promise of the sweet idyllic feel of the introduction, and is a bit boring…
—Norm Schrager, FilmCritic.com