What You Need To Know:
Everyone in THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD learns many virtues. For instance, Mr. Conductor must learn not to give up, and another character must learn responsibility. Although there is a lot of magic, it is not the “you can become God” type of magic. The basic lesson is that “helping each other brings to life the magic in all of us.” Children will enjoy THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD, but, as always, MOVIEGUIDE® suggests parents watch the movie with their children to help them discern and learn the best things the story is teaching
(B, Pa, V, M) Moral worldview with magical plot device; some violence including a diesel train engine with a mechanical shovel that attacks the other trains & people, people fall from great heights & train falls from bridge; and, dog gives human false information.
When I reviewed THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD, my 19-year-old said, “I used to watch this when I was a child.” That statement summarizes what THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD is, a delightful little yarn for little children.
The movie is a live action children’s morality tale with animated special effects. It tells the story of two worlds, a world with people and a world of trains where Thomas the tank engine and the other trains talk to each other. In this world, Thomas and his steam engine friends are really useful engines, but there is a problem involving an unlikely antagonist, an evil diesel engine, who despises steam locomotives and wants to exterminate them. The diesel engine carries a menacing shovel, with which he causes fear in the steam engines and even threatens the human beings. Diesel 10 is trying to put the steam engines out of business by finding and destroying one special steam engine named Lady. Lady is the only engine who can bring the magic gold dust from Muffle Mountain to help the world of the trains survive and give the conductor and other people their dimension jumping ability, but she has been missing for many years.
In the town of Shining Time, live the people, including Lily and her friend, Patch. Lily’s grandfather, the reclusive Burnett Stone, played by Peter Fonda, keeps the magical steam engine, Lady, in a secret mountain cavern. Burnett wants to get Lady running again, but he does not understand how to make Lady get steam. Finding the right coal to make Lady get steam provides the movie’s climax.
Traveling between the two worlds is Mr. Conductor, played by Alec Baldwin. Doll-sized, he has some magic gold dust transporting him between the two worlds. He is helped by a hedonistic Junior Conductor, whom he must train to be useful.
This complex scenario sets the stage for this magical adventure, wherein everyone must learn to work together with the hero, Thomas, to rescue Lady, bring back the magic gold and foil the plot of the evil diesel engine.
The good news about THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD is that everyone learns many virtues. For instance, Burnett must learn how to be happy, Mr. Conductor must learn not to give up, and Junior Conductor learns responsibility. Furthermore, the basic moral lesson the movie teaches is that “helping each other brings to life the magic in all of us.”
The acting and direction are good. Alec Baldwin as Mr. Conductor and Peter Fonda as the recluse Burnett are particularly delightful. This is a whimsical Alec Baldwin that audiences have not seen before – Bravo!
Although there is a lot of magic in THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD, it is not the “you can become God” type of magic. Reliance on magic gold, however, can make “things” our salvation instead of God’s grace. Some older children may find some of the dialogue a little corny, and there is some incongruity between the live action and animated special effects.
Children will enjoy THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD, but as always, MOVIEGUIDE® suggests parents watch the movie with their children to help them discern and learn the best things the story is teaching.