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YMMV / Thomas and the Magic Railroad

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  • Audience-Alienating Premise: Even if the original film is taken into account, it's still a Human-Focused Adaptation that utilizes a show that had been off the air for some time and whose main purpose had been to introduce Thomas into the United States, completely ignoring the series' roots, not even crediting Reverend Wilbert Awdry like the TV Series and later specials do. It doesn't fit into the chronology of the any aired seasons of Thomas at that point, and doesn't utilize much of the elements of Shining Time Station itself aside from three characters, in favor of the original plot focusing on Lady.
  • Awesome Music: One thing every fan can agree on is that the film had a fantastic soundtrack.
    • Atomic Kitten's narmtastic techno remix of "Locomotion."
    • "He's A Really Useful Engine," a classic song from the show performed by a Hollywood orchestra (and Steven Page, for some reason).
    • Hummie Mann's entire orchestral score, which even borrows from many of the show's famous leitmotifs.
    • "Shining Time" is a lovely, beautiful song, though it may fall under Narm Charm for some.
    • "How The Moon Must Feel" is another absolutely lovely soundtrack, accompanied by Scenery Porn.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: A talking tumbleweed constantly appears. It's there for no reason and the characters never refer to it. Reportedly, it wasn't even in the script!
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Diesel 10 and his cronies, probably the only characters made for the film that fans truly care about due to Diesel 10's Large Ham personality and his genuine level of menace, while Splatter and Dodge made for decently funny butt monkeys. It helps that Diesel 10 was brought into the show.
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  • Fanon Discontinuity: The film's failed attempt to mix the continuities of Thomas and Friends and Shining Time Station, disregard for the original stories' realism of engine crews and brake vans in favor of magic (Sodor here being an alternate dimension where the engines are completely self-reliant) and the disruption of the show's otherwise cozy Little England atmosphere by murderous Cartoon Creature Diesel 10 did not go over well with fans of the show at all. After the film bombed, it was quickly swept under the rug and has all but been removed from continuity, save the occasional appearance from Diesel 10 and a Mythology Gag or two here and there.
  • Fanfic Fuel: For better or worse, Lady's complete lack of of a discernible personality have made her a popular character for fanfiction writers to play with in order to properly flesh her out.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Diesel 10 being intimidated by a bag of sugar sounds completely ridiculous regardless of context, but sugar actually can clog a train's engine.
    • Another Diesel 10 example: his basis is the BR Class 42. What was the nickname for this class? Warship.
  • Ham and Cheese: From what little footage has been released of Doug Lennox's performance as P.T. Boomer, he was absolutely playing the role to this effect, which the leaked workprint confirms.
    Boomer: Okay, Burnett! *pulls off his gloves and tosses them away* The gloves are off!
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Edward's absence in this film was highly noticed by film viewers, given how much of a major character he was at the time the film was released. The original script would have revealed that he was away on a job. This gets a lot more harder after Edward left the main cast in Season 22. Similarly, anytime Toby and Henry appear is more difficult due to them also departing the main cast.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: The original version had Lily narrating the story 20 years later. 20 years after the film was released, most, but not all, of the deleted scenes were released on the Shout Factory DVD.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle!" (from the movie itself) and "In Thomas and the Magic Railroad..." (from Thomas' archival interview)
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • The events of the whole movie only happened because long ago, Diesel 10 (originally P.T. Boomer) caused Lady to crash, which firmly cements the former as a murderous monster...
    • And in the workprint, confirms without a doubt that P.T. Boomer is a petty and cruel bully with not a shred of decency inside of him, taking revenge on his rival by destroying an heirloom he was entrusted to, and that his return is just to rub salt in the wound.
  • Narm:
    • Peter Fonda's dead serious Oscar Bait performance... in a movie for pre-schoolers.
    • "My universe is starting to crumble!"
    • His only non-manic-depressive line isn't much better (though this is one of many side effects of P.T. Boomer's cutting, as the below line was originally directed at him).
    Burnett Stone: [to Diesel 10] ...The magic that you refuse to believe in, will get the better of you!
    • Alec Baldwin's over-the-top performance as the conductor, clearly doing his darnedest to put a smile on the faces of the kids who are watching. Good examples include him having a conversation with a ball and a baseball bat, and using flowers to make phone calls.
    • Mr. Conductor warding off Diesel 10 with a bag of sugar.
    • As shown in the workprint, P.T. Boomer's entire Evil Plan can count as this. His motivations boil down to him settling an old grudge, but instead of simply beating Burnett Stone up in a fistfight, he's content to just heckle and taunt him while digging into Muffle Mountain to find Lady and sell her for scrap. This can make one question why exactly he was cut, as he comes off less as the Knight of Cerebus he was reported to be, and more akin to a Manchild. Then again, see Narm Charm below.
  • Narm Charm:
    • Atomic Kitten's cover of "Locomotion" from the soundtrack. A British Girl Group doing a techno'd-up remix of an already cheesy song for a pre-schoolers' movie is about as narm as you can get, and that's exactly what makes it so awesome.
    • Arguably, the whole film—yes, it's narmy and cheesy, with Alec Baldwin's overacting and several plot holes...but from another point of view, it's still an enjoyable feel-good film for kids with plenty of funny and heartwarming moments.
    • P.T. Boomer in the workprint. While it is true that when one stops to think about it, his plan is essentially a lame prototype of Sailor John's...but he's a legitimately entertaining villain with his mannerisms, carrying a bit of an Evil Is Cool vibe.
  • Nightmare Retardant: In the workprint, Boomer's menace is somewhat undercut by him being a bit of a Large Ham and not being a very physical threat.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Lady's revival is widely acknowledged as the best scene of the film. The triumphant visuals, the powerful music, and the fact that the expressions on the actor's faces means even the film's biggest detractors praised it as it means the Big Good has returned.
    • The chase scene which culminates in Diesel 10 falling off the viaduct.
  • Special Effects Failure: Not that the effects are bad per say, but the original show's minimalist puppet animation does not translate well to the big screen, especially among all of the other modern special effects, making those infamous static faces stick out like a sore thumb. It gets even worse in scenes where the human actors are supposed to be directly interacting with them, like Mr. Conductor being grabbed by "Pinchy".
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Upon realizing just what's going to happen if all of their gold dust disappears, Junior silently points to Mr. Conductor, then himself, then makes a slow slashing gesture with his hand, all with a look of horror on his face.
    • For all of the movie's flaws, it's hard not to feel sad when you discover that the Lady prop is planning on being scrapped for good. Mattel doesn't even want anything to do with the prop.
    • In the original workprint, Burnett opens up to Lily about what it was like trying to repair Lady after Boomer crashed her. He swore he'd take Tasha out on a ride with Lady, even though Tasha wasn't as much of a Rail Enthusiast as Burnett was. Everyday, he'd claim that he'd make it right, that tomorrow would be perfect...and then Tasha died, crushing Burnett, as it seemed that everything he'd worked for turned out to be All for Nothing...All while breaking down, softly crying as he remembers what happened. It's a legitimately powerful moment...that comes right before Patch arrives with the Sodor Coal, leading a much happier tearjerker as it finally brings Lady back to steam, restoring the Magic Railroad and Burnett's smile at last.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • A common fan complaint is that Mr. Conductor would have been a much more enjoyable character had he been played by George Carlin rather than Alec Baldwin. Admittedly, the thought of seeing Carlin in a pre-schooler's film is...interesting, to say the least.
    • A minor note, but despite the Loads and Loads of Characters present in the cast at this point, the film only bothers to use some of the core cast during the model scenes. No sign of Edward, Duck, the Scottish Twins, or Oliver, and none of the secondary cast, nor even some of the Canon Foreigner characters introduced in Season 5 (Derek, Cranky, the Horrid Lorries) even pop up. While budget constraints can explain this, the fact that these characters were all swept under the rug, not even getting a cameo, makes Sodor feel lifeless and empty.
      • Not only that, but, while the show used wooden dolls to portray the human characters, Sodor has no humans in it outside of Burnett, Lily, Mr. Conductor, Junior, and, in the original cut, Boomer. Outside of a poster of Sir Topham Hat, who also speaks on the phone to Mr. Conductor early on in the film, there are no human Sodor residents to speak of. The trains, outside of Lady, even pilot themselves rather than needing drivers like in the show (though, admittedly, the show has been a bit inconsistent on that at times), while Shining Time Station is bustling with humans in the regular world. It's very strange, considering the trains are still doing all of their normal jobs from the show too. If there are no humans, why do they do their jobs? Who stocks their coal and water? Who puts coal in their boilers? A lot of questions pop up when you try to analyze the logistics of Sodor as presented inn this movie.
    • Similar to the above, only three characters from Shining Time Station appear (Mr. Conductor, Billy Twofeathers, and Stacy Jones), and only one of them (Stacy) uses the original actress. None of the characters that were recurring from the series appear, nor were any of the elements associated with it. Like with Sodor, it makes Shining Time feel barren and barely resemble the original series at all.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Well, they had one. Though there has been some debate over how much better the movie would have been in its initial form.
    • The movie has more than a few weak plot points without P.T. Boomer, such as Bernett Stone and his missing wife discovering the entrance to the magic railroad and meeting Lady, then having a good enough relationship with her to hide her from Diesel 10 & fix her up as best he could. The most we get is a vague allusion to some sort of promise Stone didn't keep via a voice over of them as kids. That alone could have worked as a completely different movie.
    • This film clearly exists in an Alternate Continuity to Thomas the Tank Engine, Shining Time Station and even The Railway Series, or was at least trying to do some mythology expansion, so explaining why all of the modern vehicles can operate independently while Lady apparently still needed an actual driver to operate her as a sort of Technology Marches On kind of thing might have made up for what was otherwise blasted by fans as Negative Continuity and at least have worked as its own story, even if not everyone would be pleased with it. Hell, it'd certainly be more than the show ever does to explain it, since they flop flop between if the trains need drivers, don't, or both in different stories, depending on what's important to the story at the time.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously:
    • Peter Fonda compared his character to the title character he's previously played in the adult drama Ulee's Gold, describing Burnett Stone as a man who lost touch with the world after enduring the revenge of the film's original villain, P.T. Boomer. With Boomer being cut, Fonda's utterly serious performance feels out of place for such a goofy children's film. However, there could be the argument that he only goes halfway with it, since, while he displays the correct amount of sadness and cheer when needed in the most important scenes for Stone's character, other scenes see him not caring to change his mood, like when he's with Lily, Burnett's granddaughter, he doesn't cheer up at all, especially in the scene where he sees Lily after being worried over her disappearance when she went to Sodor with Junior.
    • To a lesser extent, Alec Baldwin is clearly giving his all to create a charming, funny character who's appealing to young children, but comes off as desperate, if not slightly insane. This and The Cat in the Hat forced him out of live-action children's films for the rest of his career.
  • Uncertain Audience: Typically split between fans of the show who wouldn't dream of considering this as something made for Thomas fans and those who believe that only Thomas fans would appreciate it. Also uncertain would be appealing to fans of Shining Time Station .
  • What an Idiot!:
    • While it is true that sugar can clog up a fuel tank, Diesel 10 is still a large diesel with a hydraulic claw, giving him size and reach so far above Mr. Conductor that the threat of sugar is minimal, especially since his fuel tank is probably in a place that Mr. Conductor wouldn't have easy access to without his gold dust. Why he simply shrinks away after threatening the shed from a measly bag of sugar just seems like a tease.
    • The implied reason Cousin Junior is almost out of gold dust himself? He left his whistle in his mouth whilst napping on the beach, blowing his supply out between snores, effectively wasting all of it within minutes. This gets lampshaded by his cousin who utters a Flat "What" when he hears the news.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • High-profile Oscar Bait actors Peter Fonda and Alec Baldwin in a children's movie is not all that strange. But Peter Fonda and Alec Baldwin in a movie meant for pre-schoolers is.
    • Sailor Moon alumni Susan Roman and Linda Ballantyne as James and Percy, respectively. Their attempts at a male voice for each of their characters doesn't help, as they come off with voices of old women or young boys instead.
  • Vindicated by History: When it initially came out, the film earned overwhelmingly negative reviews, flopped at the box office, and played a major role in the decline of the original series. Nowadays, it’s being looked at much more fondly due to the large amounts of infuriating changes initiated that came out of nowhere, whereas the film actually made attempts to explain the plot, even if it was done in a confusing way. While it still has its detractors, the film's reception nowadays is much better than it was initially. The recent leak of the director’s cut workprint helped a bit too.


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