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The Adventure Begins is a feature-length film and special of the Thomas & Friends series released in 2015. It is a re-telling of the first two books of The Railway Series - "The Three Railway Engines" and "Thomas the Tank Engine" which were adapted in the first season of the television series in 1984, only added with new characters and a different narrative. It also commemorates the 70th anniversary of The Railway Series.

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"The Adventure Begins" contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Edward had a slight chuckle at Thomas waking up Gordon.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • The entire film expands on how Thomas got to be the engine we all know and love.
    • The other four original engines only had a key role in one story each in Thomas the Tank Engine, while here they are a key presence throughout the entire arc. Especially Edward who is Thomas' full-on Big Brother Mentor.
    • Thomas was introduced wearing his LBSC paint job before gaining his signature blue paint much later.
    • The character of Glynn was also added in.
    • The breakdown train is now a pair of sentient cranes, Jerome and Judy.
    • The most noticeable change is the "Thomas and the Breakdown Train" chapter: instead of James crashing offscreen, the film adds in a new sequence where Thomas tries to save James from crashing but fails.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
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    • Gordon comes off as far more antagonistic and ruder to Thomas than he was in the original book. His trick dragging him along with the express is similarly revenge for Thomas heckling him earlier, however this itself was only in retaliation for Gordon belittling him a fair deal beforehand. But what goes around comes around, as Thomas teases Gordon again in the end.
    • Reconstructed for James. Due to Characterization Marches On, he didn't really have much of a personality in Thomas the Tank Engine, while in the film, where he has a much larger role, he is refitted with his standard Small Name, Big Ego personality.
    • Downplayed with Sir Topham Hatt in the "Thomas and the Trucks" segment. Unlike the book, where he merely gives Thomas a simple lecture, he outright restrains not only Thomas but Edward as well to the yards for his mishap, though this is more due the adaptation taking a more realistic approach than a major change in character.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: This was put on display in which it readapts some of the earliest stories of the books and TV series:
    • Thomas is far more idealistic and innocent than he was in his debut novel.
    • Meanwhile, Henry is far meeker and gentler, and his hatred of the rain is treated more as a phobia (in the books he was merely pompous about getting his paint spoiled, if you don't go by the theory that Henry was actually having mechanical issues that day and had stopped in the tunnel to cover them up).
  • Animation Bump: The animation has become a bit smoother and more detailed. Also, the engines' coupling rods have become a darker shade, appearing silver or more realistically steel-like.
  • Artistic License: Thomas' LBSCR livery. In Real Life, the LBSCR livery for tank engines was brown with yellow lettering and lining (those who did goods work wore black with red lining). In the Thomas universe the livery appears to be teal with white lining, which was actually the paint-scheme on the original wooden Thomas model locomotive that Reverend Awdry gave to his son as a present. His LBSCR number is also 70, when the E2 class engines went from 100-109, the 70 being used as a reference to the franchise's anniversary.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Thomas.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Edward to Thomas.
  • Bookends: After arriving on Sodor, Thomas wakes Gordon with his teasing, and then does it again in the ending.
  • Continuity Nod: This isn't the first time we saw an engine in his pink undercoat and get embarrassed as a result.
  • Covers Always Lie: James appears on the cover with his red paint. However, he spends most of the special in black livery, only appearing in his iconic red paintwork near the very end.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The special ends with various illustrations from The Railway Series as the credits roll.
  • Dark Reprise: A rather ominous version of Thomas' theme from Season 1-4 plays when Thomas catches up with James during his runaway sequence.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Edward, the film begins introducing him first and Thomas is then introduced from his perspective. From there the story follows from Thomas' perspective.
  • Didn't Think This Through: James' trucks cause a Runaway Train, though the crash that ensues seems to be just as horrific an experience for them as James.
  • Digital Destruction: The US release is deinterlaced and shows the picture in 240p instead of the clean 480p for the UK release. Averted with iTunes.
    • In addition, in aforementioned US release, the first time James screams, "They're pushing me!" his mouth doesn't move.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Plenty of this abounds for Thomas. He learns plenty from both good and bad experiences, and then finally proves himself to be a really useful engine when he takes the initiative to save James, in spite of how badly the latter treated him earlier in the film.
  • Flashback Cut: Edward tells Thomas the story of how Henry hid in a tunnel due to the rain and how he came out after Gordon burst his safety valve.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Annie and Clarabel comments on how nice Thomas is to them and how far he'll go.
    • Annie and Clarabel explain to Thomas that the Breakdown Train is only taken out in emergencies, like lifting carriages back onto the line.
    • Just then, James comes in, and Thomas can smell his wooden brakes burning. The second time this happens, James simply blows away the smoke coming from it.
    • When Gordon asks The Fat Controller who will be shunting coaches now that Thomas will run his branch line; he replies that Gordon will have to fetch his own coaches until he finds another small engine like Thomas to do the job.
    • After Thomas gets repainted, Gordon mentions the last #1 was a "coffee pot", and Edward says one might still be on a siding somewhere.
  • Grimmification: While James' crash happened off-screen in both the book and TV versions of "Thomas and the Breakdown Train", here we get to see it play out in full view of the audience. We even get a shot of the conductor looking back in terror, just before his brake van buckles and derails on its side. The bonus of hearing James' screams for help and the sinister remix of the Runaway theme throughout don't help at all.
  • Honor Before Reason: Edward lets Thomas take his goods train without proper consent in "Thomas and the Trucks" and The Fat Controller reprimands him for it.
  • Hope Spot: An extra sequence has been added to the adaptation of "Thomas and the Breakdown Train", where Thomas attempts to couple to James' Runaway Train to help him stop. The guard in the brake van comes very close to getting the chain on Thomas' buffer plate to connect to the hook on the van. Anyone who's read the book or watched the original episode knows how things will turn out.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: James is as boastful as he is in present day, though his less-than-durable wooden brakes are a clear sore spot.
  • Insulted Awake: Like the novels and the pilot, Thomas awakes Gordon with his teasing. Edward had to chuckle about it. He then does it again in the ending.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gordon. Despite looking down on Thomas, he became impressed with him rescuing James from the accident and gives him a slight smile of approval.
  • Makeover Montage: One of these is shown as Thomas is being stripped of his LBSC livery and is given his iconic blue livery and #1.
  • The Movie: Notably the first one that isn't at least an hour long and isn't marked as "the movie".
  • Mythology Gag: James being the engine who tries to push Henry out of the tunnel is a reference to early versions of The Three Railway Engines, where he was indeed the engine that did so. However, fans wrote to Awdry asking why James was red at the time, so Awdry retconned it to be an entirely different character. The film avoids this by showing James in his earlier black livery (as he has for most of the film).
  • Naïve Newcomer: Thomas.
  • Passing the Torch: Glynn to Thomas.
    Glynn: "Look after the branch line, Thomas, and wear that number with pride!"
  • Runaway Train: James and the troublesome trucks, only this time it's seen in its entirety. Even worse, the viewers now have the unpleasant experience of watching James' wooden brake blocks igniting during his attempts to stop. This, coupled with the troublesome trucks laughing at James' plight, is horrifying.
  • Series Continuity Error: Henry is in his new shape even though this chronologically takes place before his rebuild. To exacerbate it, The Railway Series illustrations during the credits depict him in his old shape.
  • Shout-Out: Thomas attempts to stop James' runaway by coupling up to the back of his train, similar to the climax of Unstoppable. Given that coupling process requires the brake van guard to yank up Thomas' chain with a pole, this is even more hazardous.
  • Shown Their Work: Has a lot of references to the original novels, even ones that weren't featured in the original episodes. The coffee pot engines are an exceptional case, since they were only mentioned in reference materials rather than the novels themselves.
  • Silence Is Golden: The only vocalizations during Thomas' new paintwork sequence were Thomas saying "Oh!" upon learning the pink paint was an undercoat and the blue paint was to go on top of it, as well as two brief giggles.
  • Smile of Approval: Gordon gives a slight smile at Thomas for rescuing James, citing that Thomas gained his respect.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Sir Topham Hatt not only punishes Thomas for his runaway with the trucks, but Edward as well for letting him do it. While Edward may have been trying to help Thomas, the job was still his to begin with, and he didn't ask Sir Topham Hatt for permission before making the switch, making him liable for the accident as well.
  • Tempting Fate: James is adamant that his wooden brake blocks won't catch fire. Anyone familiar with the franchise knows that they will certainly do so at the worst possible moment...
  • Ungrateful Bastard: As in the original book, and the original TV series episode, Gordon doesn't thank Edward for helping him up the hill. Although this time Edward lampshades it:
    Edward: Not even so much as a "thank you"!
  • Visual Pun: When James is getting pushed by the troublesome trucks, he sees a deer on the line and exclaims "Oh, dear!"
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The whole premise of the special.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Henry's fear of the rain. Thanks to Thomas, he overcomes his fear.

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