Would you believe that Thomas the Tank Engine
is 60 years old?
Well he is, and as part of his anniversary
celebrations, HIT Entertainment
commissioned this feature-length DVD presentation,
with Thomas and his
pals animated in the same fashion as the ever-popular
tv series. Which
means lots of lovely model trains, rolling
eyes, and great chuffs of steam...
In "Calling all Engines!", the Sodor
engines are helping Sir Topham Hatt to
build a new suspension bridge and a spanking
new airport. But there's trouble
on the tracks, in the form of the diesel engines,
who are always out to spoil
the "Steamies" fun. Thomas tries
a little trick on his enemies. He swops
their construction materials for a container
of bananas, but his plans
backfire, and the very future of the island
is put in jeopardy. Then a storm
breaks over Sodor and Thomas has a dream about
Lady, the special golden
engine from Muffle Mountain (seen in the live-action feature
the Magic Railroad"). Lady tells Thomas
that the "Steamies" and the
"Diesels" will get along just fine,
in time. But will her vision come true,
and will the airport be finished on shedule?
There may have been a five year gap between
the original series and this
new animated production, but it's just about
"business as usual" for Thomas
and his Sodor friends. In the UK, Michael
Angelis is back oboard. Folks in
America get Michael Brandon. It's nice to
see Lady on the tracks again, and
Diesel 10 is also welcomed back, alongside
old favourites Emily, James
and Toby and a host of familar engines loitering
around in various cameos
and appearances. So where does the "almost"
part come in? Well, this
feature-length tale includes songs and games
for preschool viewers, with
the action pausing intemittently
whilst puzzles are posed and solved.
This kind of "Teacher Feature" element
is slipping in to more and more
preschool series and specials nowadays (Engie
Benjie springs to mind).
Is it a welcome addition, or an unwelcome distraction?
- Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, Trainspotters will note that this
is the first time we get to see
the newly-built Sodor Airport and the Airport Manager,
the Sodor Suspension
Bridge, and the new Tidmouth Sheds for the
titles include: "Busy", "Try to do things Better",
Made it Happen", "The
Dream Song", and the "New Engine Roll Call".
series and this feature film are, of course, based on the books
by Reverend Wilbert Vere
Awdry. The first title was published way
back in 1945.
the Tank Engine and Friends (series)
all Engines on DVD
and Friends: Calling All Engines
2 / VCI / October 2005
and Friends: Calling All Engines!
Region 1 / Lyons Group / Lyrick / Sept 2005
for HIT Entertainment Plc