Well, it's finally here. After weeks of cinema screenings in July and August, and a month and a half of waiting, Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure is finally available in the UK on DVD. And here are my thoughts on it!
It's safe to say that HiT and Mattel have gone all out with the 70th anniversary of Thomas & Friends. With a 45 minute special everyone loved, to a load of special merchandise which has been well received (Bachmann's Celebration Thomas was a bit of a cop-out, but that's another story) and now we have the annual 60 minute special: Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure.
The trailer promised an action packed special with a good antagonist, an abundance of new and returning characters and lost treasure, obviously. But the question is: will it sink or swim?
Rear CoverThere's no image of the rear cover for the UK version so bear with me.
This cover is better than the front one, in my opinion. The rear picture shows Thomas with the small engines and a beautiful scene of Arlesburgh behind them. It's absolutely gorgeous, simple as that. Although, if I had to be nitpicky, Thomas' face seems to have been Photoshopped as it's off centre slightly.
Film (SPOILER ALERT)
The New Branch Line
The Construction Yard
Silly Little Tank Engines
New Tank Engine?
Re-routing the Track
Never Overlook a Little Engine
Discovering the Pirate Ship
Displaying the Pirate Ship
The Lost Pirate?
Back to Work
Finding the Treasure Map
Finding the Treasure
We Make a Team Together
Keeping the Treasure Safe
The Obligatory Chase for the Treasure
Opening the New Branch Line
Although Diesel 10 was written better in Day of the Diesels and James was brilliant in Tale of the Brave, John was fantastic, if a bit clichéd with the turn near the end. Also, he had little motivation apart from being a pirate, which was a shame. He was, however, extremely threatening and brilliantly voiced by John Hurt. Seriously, who'd have thought that we'd get someone as high calibre as John Hurt working on the show? On a side note, keep up the cancer fight Sir, here's hoping you manage to kick its butt soon.
Not only that, but his design is a lot more real than Stanley's, being based solely on a GNR N2, a really nice design. As for his livery, I don't care. It reminds me of Cadbury's chocolate, one of my favourite brands. Also would you really want another green engine? Realistic it may be, but the TV series has kept its engines' liveries as eye catching and unique as possible, and Ryan is no exception. Besides, if we wanted "realistic" liveries for every engine, Henry would be black, Donald and Douglas blue, Duck and Oliver a darker green, Emily a lighter green, Bill and Ben would be green with yellow lining and the Skarloey Railway engines would be either be red or green. You can't have one rule for one engine and a completely different one for the rest of them.
With all that off my chest, Eddie Redmaayne delivers a great performance for Ryan. I've not seen him in any other projects, but if he was as good, or better, in The Theory of Everything as he was here, he deserved that Oscar win earlier this year.
As for their appearance, I like it. Like I said, it was very much necessary, otherwise the line probably wouldn't have been built. Unfortunately, their personalities, as individuals and as a trio, don't really shine too much, but there are some good moments with them and they do tease each other once or twice, so they're not completely neglected. I do hope we see more from them in the future, though; it would be a shame if they, and the narrow gauge railway for that matter, only get two or three episodes per series.
Their renders are fantastic. I probably would have liked them to take more inspiration from their real life bases as they have more pipework and other details, but I also like that they stuck to Railway Series illustrations like the original model crews did when building the character models for series 1-4. I also like that their wheels are the same colours as their bodies. It suits River Mite (Mike's basis) and it suits these three.
Their voices are great as well. Keith Wickham, even though he's practically using his normal voice, is still a good fit (even though I'd have thought Bert would be the youngest engine as he was built the latest of the original three).
Tom Stourton is brilliant as Rex. He's probably the best of the three; it suits Rex's personality, and age, to a tee.
Mike's voiced by Tim Whitnall, which is pretty easy to tell as his voice is so recognisable and there's not much range to it. That said, it's still a good fit for Mike, since they're making him the oldest of the three.
I love the added detail that Arc has given them, even if some parts (especially the tender) have been shrunk a bit. The accurate funnel is a nice touch as are the added rivets. Putting the nameplates back on their smokeboxes feels much more realistic than having them in the middle of their boilers. I'm also glad that they kept their black liveries. Yes, for accuracy, I'd have preferred the NWR blue, but they stick out a lot more in their black liveries.
Joe Mills does an excellent job voicing both of them, too. His Scottish accent is really convincing. I hope we get to see more of the twins, and hear more from Joe's voices for them, soon.
As for her purpose in the series now, I think it's a brilliant move. Say what you want about the transfer, but on the Ffarquhar branch line, she was constantly overshadowed. In the Railway Series, she only really had two stories to herself while the rest went to the others with her being forgotten about. Even on TV, she was only used as either set dressing or for episodes she starred in. She was completely replaced in Mavis for no reason and while she was in Calling All Engines!, nothing ever came from that return. So giving her a branch line with only one other engine was a great way to have her play more of a part on the railway and in the series as a whole. She'll have Ryan to play off of, which could lead into an interesting dynamic, and she could have the Little Western engines (and, maybe, the small railway?) to interact with as well, meaning there's far more story potential for her now than there's ever been.
I also love her render, especially her face. I'll be honest, I hated her overly made up face in the model era; it's like they wanted to disguise how much it looked like BoCo's by turning her into a really cheap prostitute on wheels. Now though, she looks very pleasant on the eye. The other additions are great too, especially the white buffers being kept, but why the brake pipe faces upwards now I don't know. Why there's only one I really don't know. And I probably would have liked her headboard to actually show the locations that she'll be stopping at, but hey, she still looks great.
Hearing Teresa Gallagher voicing her though... was kind of disappointing. Don't get me wrong, she did a great job, and it may mean she will get more than one episode in the future, but she's like the Keith Wickham for the female members of the cast, only Teresa practically voices every single one. I wouldn't have minded if Rebecca O'Mara (she did do a great voice for one of the slip coaches) or Maggie Ollerenshaw had a shot at voicing her for more variety. But like I say, Teresa is fine as well, and it does increase the chances of her appearing more often.
Their looks are... well, practically like their model series counterparts, only with a few more realistic parts here and there. They look brilliant.
Nathan Clarke Brown's voice for Alfie is fantastic. It sounds slightly more mature than I expected, but it still sounds great. It's a bit of a shame that he didn't have any more lines than he did, but at least he wasn't forced into having so many that it took away from the story.
As for Oliver? He's voiced by Tim Whitnall. In fairness, he did put in some effort by giving the excavator an Irish accent, but his normal voice still shines through regardless. That said, Oliver still sounds really good, and the effort is still there.
Final Thoughts (Film)
It, again, calls into question why Thomas & Friends needs another theatrical film when these 60 minute offerings present as much quality, high enough stakes and as much action as a film with an extra 30 minutes could, if not more.
Film Rating: 9.5/10
Final Thoughts (DVD)