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Thomas and the Magic Railroad is a 2000 American film based on the well-known TV series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends and the USmarker TV series Shining Time Station. This film production company was Gullane Entertainment with funding from Destination Films, Isle of Manmarker and The Britt Allcroft Company. It was released first in the UK where critics were unfamiliar with the characters from Shining Time Station and accused Thomas of being "Americanized". It received warmer reviews in the US ("An enchanting ride." AP. "Delight for young moviegoers." Garnett News Service.) and was well liked by the young audience for whom it was created.

In 2007, it was revealed that the released film was drastically cut down against Allcroft's wishes from the original script written and shot by her.

Plot

Sir Topham Hatt, normally in charge of the railways on Sodor, is on holiday and has left Mr. Conductor (Alec Baldwin) in charge. Meanwhile, Thomas (Eddie Glen) and Gordon encounter an evil diesel locomotive, Diesel 10 (Neil Crone), stating he has unfinished business on Sodor and he wants to finish it quickly. Thomas and Gordon are shocked.

Mr. Conductor has problems of his own. The mysterious gold dust that allows him to magically transport from place to place is running out, and without it there will be no way for anyone to travel to Sodor. The lost engine is able to travel between Sodor and Muffle Mountain via the Magic Railroad, but nobody knows where she is.

An old man named Burnett Stone (Peter Fonda) lives on Muffle Mountain, near Shining Time Station. Unknown to everyone, he is the guardian of the lost engine whose name is Lady. The engine crashed after an earlier encounter with Diesel 10, and ever since then he has been trying to repair her, so far without success.

Percy and Thomas find out that there is a secret railway and there are magic buffers that lead to it. However, Diesel 10 overhears them. Toby the Tram Engine follows him and hears him telling Splatter and Dodge, his diesel locomotive henchtrains, that he will find the buffers and destroy the steam locomotives by destroying the Golden Engine. This is largely because Mr Conductor's sparkle is running out and he is too weak to stop him. Toby suddenly rings his bell and Diesel, Splatter and Dodge hear it. During this point, Diesel 10 says "It's the old teapot! Smash him!" and then accidentally fractures the foundation of the shed they are sheltering under and it collapses on them while Toby runs off.

Burnett's granddaughter Lily (Mara Wilson) comes to visit him. During her stay, she meets C. Junior, Mr. Conductor's cousin, who takes her to Sodor and introduces her to the talking engines who live there, including Thomas the Tank Engine. Later, Thomas is assigned to take Lily back, having discovered the start of the long-abandoned Magic Railroad by an old grotto. He finds a truck of special Island of Sodor coal and takes it with him. He arrives on the side of Muffle Mountain, and Lily goes to her grandpa's house, leaving Thomas stranded on the mountain. Suddenly, Thomas falls off the mountain and rolls all the way to the bottom where he re-enters the Magic Railroad through another portal there.

Lily reunites with Burnett at his workshop, where he shows her Lady, the lost engine, and explains his problem getting the engine to steam. Lily suggests using Island of Sodor coal from the truck Thomas brought. This proves to be exactly what was needed, and the engine comes to life. For the first time in years, Burnett smiles. Lily and Burnett take Lady along the Magic Railroad, which regenerates beneath her wheels. As the Magic Railroad is reborn, Lady's face appeared, commenting that Burnett had never given up on Magic. The team reunites with Thomas and find their way back to Sodor, where Diesel 10 finds them and gives chase. He is foiled by a damaged viaduct, which collapses beneath him.

Thomas, Lady, Burnett and Lily meet Mr. Conductor and Junior. They use the water from a wishing well and shavings from the rails of the Magic Railroad to make more gold dust, and the Island of Sodor is saved.

Cast

  • Alec Baldwin as Mr. Conductor: A character originating from Shining Time Station. He lives inside the signal box on Shining Time's mural, and keeps a close eye on the Isle of man.
  • Peter Fonda as Burnett Stone: The caretaker of the lost engine, Lady. She crashed after Diesel 10 chased her down, and Burnett hasn't been able to make Lady run since. Although he promised his wife Tasha she could ride with him in Lady one day, she died before Burnett could fix the engine.
  • Mara Wilson as Lily: Burnett Stone's granddaughter. While traveling to visit Burnett in the Indian Valley, She finds herself on the train for Shining Time by mistake. This leads Lily to learn about the lost engine and the connection between the Island of Sodor and her grandfather.
  • Eddie Glen as Thomas the Tank Engine: The main protagonist. An engine who runs a branch line on the Island of Sodor. When Diesel 10 starts causing trouble on the railway, Thomas is determined to help Mr. Conductor and Lily save the lost engine from him.
  • Michael E. Rodgers as C. Junior: Mr. Conductor's cousin. While he'd rather relax at the beach, Junior answers his cousin's call for help on the Island of Sodor.
  • Cody McMains as Patch: A young farmhand who works for Burnett Stone and befriends Lily.
  • Neil Crone as Diesel 10: The Main Antagonist. A scheming diesel who has returned to Sodor to destroy the lost engine and get rid of steam engines once and for all.
  • Neil Crone and Kevin Frank as Splatter and Dodge: Diesel's bungling henchmen, whom he collectively calls "Splodge" to save time. The two grow disdain for him by the end of the movie, and refuse to help him catch Thomas and Lady.
  • Britt Allcroft as Lady: A magical lost engine who generates the energy that keeps the railway alive.
  • Mutt: A smart dog living at Shining Time. He senses trouble is coming for Mr. Conductor, and brings Lily to Shining Time to help.


Supporting Cast from Thomas and Friends



Supporting Cast from Shining Time Station



Cut Cast

  • Doug Lennox as P.T. Boomer: An unfriendly motorcyclist who was jealous of the relationship that Burnett had with Tasha. He doesn't believe in magic and returns to Shining Time hoping to find and destroy Lady. The character was cut due to being to frightening for the younger audience, and Diesel 10 was rewritten as the main villain of the film.
  • John Bellis as Thomas: The original voice of Thomas but was cut due to supposedly sounding too old.
  • Michael Angelis as James, Percy and (rumoured) Gordon: The original voices of Percy, James and (assumed) Gordon but was cut due to supposedly sounding too old.
  • Keith Scott as Diesel 10 but was cut due to supposedly sounding too frightening for younger audience.*
  • Patrick Breen as Splatter and Dodge


Production

Filming

The movie was filmed at the Strasburg Rail Roadmarker in Pennsylvaniamarker, Ontariomarker and on the Isle of Manmarker. Castletown railway stationmarker on the Isle of Man Railway formed part of Shining Time Station and the goods shed at Port St Mary railway stationmarker became Burnett Stone's workshop. The Strasburg Railroadmarker was used for shots of the full-sized Indian Valley railroad. Norfolk & Western 4-8-0 475 was the Indian Valley Engine.

Sodor was realised using models and chroma key. The models were animated using live action remote control, as on the television series. The model sequences were filmed in Toronto, Canadamarker instead of Shepperton Studiosmarker, the "home" of the original TV show; however, several of the show's key staff were flown over to participate.

The Magic Railroad was created using models and CGI and water color painting.

Rewrites

A major character, 'PT Boomer', played by Doug Lennox, was deemed too frightening for the younger audience and therefore was entirely cut out of the film before its release. Because of PT Boomer's absence from the final film, the plot elements that had been driven by him went unexplained. So close to release was this change that trailers for the film actually still featured him (such as a clip from the trailer in which he appears falling off the viaduct alongside Diesel 10). Oddly enough, he still appears in the movie during some shots, shown lying on the roof of Diesel 10 as well as a lost motorcyclist being given driections by Burnett (The original scene being dubbed over by Nelson Ferreira from the original confrontation scenes). Boomer also appears in Thomas and the Magic Railroad coloring books by Random House, seen exchanging words with Burnett and setting the explosion off that sent Thomas off the mountain

The same trailers also depicted Diesel 10 with an upper class English accent rather than the American one he had in the release. The reason for this change is that there was a different actor playing Diesel 10 in the trailer (an English one instead of an American one) or that that was the voice of PT Boomer. It was revealed that the original voice of Diesel 10 was Australian voice actor Keith Scott, thus revealing it was NOT the voice of PT Boomer. The reason Keith Scott was removed, was because the test audiences feared it would frighten the youngest of audience members. According to an E-mail reply from Neil Crone by the Sodor Island Forums, he stated that he did a voice for Diesel 10 with a Russian accent and that Britt had heard it and liked it. However, that voice suffered at the hands of the test audience too, as they believed it could cause offence; as such, Crone had to record his lines all again. Neil Crone was also the one who came up with referring to Diesel's claw as Pinchy.

Prior to filming, it had been revealed that Thomas' voice would be provided by an Isle of Manmarker taxi driver named John Bellis (who also worked as a fireman on the Isle of Man Steam Railway). However, during a test screening in Los Angeles, the test audiences disliked Bellis' voice for Thomas due to his Liverpudlian tones, claiming that he made Thomas sound too old. Subsequently, Bellis was dropped from his role and was replaced by Edward Glen, who gave Thomas a more youthful voice.

It has also been revealed that Michael Angelis, the narrator for the UK version of the TV Series since 1991, would have been the voice for James & Percy (and possibly other characters too). However, like Bellis, Angelis also suffered at the hands of the American test audiences, claiming that he made James & Percy sound too old. Eventually, James & Percy were voiced by Susan Roman and Linda Ballantyne.

It has been revealed that Cranky the Crane and George the Steamroller were originally in the film with roles but they never appeared in the finished film. George never was on set, but Cranky was briefly on set. In a picture from SiF, there is a shot of a modeller above Knapford. If you look closely, Cranky can be seen. The model for Cranky remained, but it was just a generic crane and not the character fans knew.

Because of the cuts, many key scenes that gave Britt Allcroft's original story substance and were filmed with Peter Fonda as Burnett Stone and Russell Means as Billy Twofeathers plus Cody McMains as Patch, were not in the released version because of the references to P.T. Boomer. The movie scenes with these cuts were either cut or altered.

Workprint

In February 2009, a YouTube user uploaded the original chase scene with PT Boomer (Doug Lennox) as what had been a dubbing project for the user's film class. While the original audio level was toned down considerably as so the original soundtrack would not conflict with the overture from Dark City that played throughout the duration of the video, the finding sparked renewed interest in the Director's Cut project.

Awards

The released film received two movie awards by Youngstar awards and Youngartist Awards.

References

  1. Magic Railroad - Revealed.
  2. Magic Railroad - Rediscovered.


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