further ado... I am proud to announce...
the very first Sunflower Valley Games!"
What we have here - ladies and gentleman,
boys and girls - is Bob the Builder's
fifth feature-length outing, and his
eighth extended adventure, if you throw in his
three additional half-hours. That's incredible,
isn't it? And of course, we mustn't
forget those one-hundred-and-five original
tv episodes, and those seventy-eight
"Project:Build-it" tales and a whole
lot of mini-adventures, pop promos, and
"On-Site" additions too. So at this
stage of the game, you'd forgive the folks
at HIT Entertainment and HOT Animation if they
took their foot off the pedal
a little, to coast on Bob's success. And they
do. Ju-u-ust a little. But we'll
get to that in a minute. Meanwhile, here's the
In a move that mirrors the real-life hoopla
surrounding the 2012 Olympics in
London, Sunflower Valley is apparently going
to be hosting their very first
Sunflower Valley Games. And as everyone knows,
you can't hold such a
prestigious event without an equally prestigious
sports stadium with which
to showcase the events. So Bob and his machine
gang are given the task
of building it, and to help them there are
two new team members, who
have rumbled though the valley to join
them in Bobland Bay, on the back
of our lorry pal Packer. Gripper and Grabber are
twin cranes with tank tracks
who hail from the big city (or Liverpool, if their
scouse accents are anything
to go by). They've never been to the countryside
before, and are all set to
have fun, fun, fun together. Only, over the course
of the next few days, they
get themselves separated, with one working alongside
Bob's gang, whilst
the other explores the valley, in turn. And that
cause more than a little
friction between them...
"The whole valley needs you. Every man, woman
child is depending on you, Wendy. Imagine their
as you fly bravely along the track. You could be
our triumph, our chariot of fire. Sunflower Valley's
That's Mr Bentley, raving, above. You see,
as is normal with these extended
films, there's a secondary plot on the go, in-between
the machines' shenanigans.
This time, we're focusing on Mr Bentley and
Scrambler, who have taken up
training duties for the athletes, and Bob's almost-nearly
girlfriend and coworker
Wendy. She has to step in to the breach when Sunflower
heptathlete (David Dickson, for those who
need names) injures himself.
And that's our cue for protracted training scenes
in the hills, as Wendy
tackles the javelin, shot putt and hurdles, and lots
and lots of running.
Eventually, our two plots come together as
Gripper and Grabber tangle in
the hills, and find themselves - quite literally
- hanging off a cliff. That's when
everyone comes together as a team to save
the day, before the games begin
in earnest. And there's no prize for guessing
the winner of the main event!
Whilst it's nice to see Wendy getting her moment
in the sun, there's no
Soap plotting, this time around. In the past, we've
had Bob meeting up with
making up with his father,
revealing where he comes from,
even - possibly - falling for a
cowgirl, if you want to read subtext in to
something where it probably never existed.
But there's none of that here.
And there are no guest voices and characters
to surprise us, this time.
Spud only gets one slim, but funny, scene. Plus,
if we're really picky,
we could argue that Bob's already built a
sporty venue before...
So you can see why The Hound reckons we're coasting
a wee bit, this time
around. But, don't be perturbed, because HOT
Animation have once again
pulled out all the stops to make this film
a thing of beauty to behold, and
their efforts override any short-handedness
with the storyline. There's a
"Chariots of Fire" spoof that comes
to us complete with slow-motion
athletes tumbling on the beach, spraying sand
and sweat. It's fabulous.
And once again, the lighting defies belief.
From afternoon glows and long
shadows, moonlit nights to bright midday sunshine.
Ah, 'tis the best.
And as ever, there are those fabulous character
moments and actions
you spy, like the way in which Wendy has to reset
her headband before
she runs out of frame, or the way in which Mr Bentley's
scarf ripples as
he makes his momentous speech...
Okay, it's true, we're shortchanged a little
in the climax. The games aren't
as spectacular as they might have been. They're
over all too quickly, as well.
But it's all completely forgivable, because,
it's simply a pleasure to be in
Bob's little world again. HIT and HOT
obviously care about their yellow-hatted
star just as much as we do, and on this showing,
there's no reason we can't
have still more big adventures in Bob's magical
"Race to the Finish" premiered theatrically in the UK, on
2008, at limited engagements,
before arriving on DVD a week later...
the Builder: Project Build-It
the Builder: Bob's Big Plan
the Builder: Built to be Wild
the Builder: A Christmas to Remember
the Builder: Knights of Can-a-lot
the Builder: Scrambler to the Rescue
the Builder: Snowed Under
the Builder: When Bob Became a Builder
to the Finish on DVD
the Builder: Race to the Finish
2 / HIT Entertainment / November 2008
the Builder: Race to the Finish
1 / Lyons/HIT Ent / January 2009
a HOT Animation Production
for HIT Entertainment Ltd