HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Thomas & Friends: Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure
HTS Overall Score:71
There’s something inherently comforting about “Thomas & Friends”. He’s been a staple of my childhood since as long as I can remember, and I guarantee you that it was a staple for other people’s childhoods much older than I considering the original novels came out in 1945. Much like “Curious George”, an old fashioned set of books has become a cultural children’s phenomenon, transcending generations and generation with fun children’s storytelling and lessons that help young ones in their formative years. With the amount of graphic television content and feeling the constant need to watch something new BEFORE your child due to the loose nature on which content can be labeled for “kids”, it’s nice to have something benign and considered family friendly by just about all. “Thomas” may sometimes err on being a bit too “everyone gets their own trophy” at times, but it has NEVER gone into material that one would deem offensive or “too much” for their child.
This time Thomas (voiced by Joseph May) is having a few problems in his career. With Sir Topham Hatt (Keith Wickham) building a new branch line, Thomas has become a bit too big for his britches. Making light of the situation he sneers that he will ALWAYS be #1, and soon starts to act arrogantly, trying to “show off” in front of the other “less important” engines only to cause a giant derailing. Sir Topham Hatt unfortunately has to step in and mete out some sort of punishment, sending Thomas to the new construction site to haul around supplies, much to Thomas’ chagrin. Thomas doesn’t exactly see the light at first, thinking he’s too good to follow proper directions he ends up causing ANOTHER giant accident, this time at the new site! Once more Thomas has been humbled by Topham Hatt, leaving him feeling just a bit shamed for his arrogance. To make matters worse, when Thomas crashed at the dig site, he opened up a cavern underneath the tracks which housed a missing pirate ship, only to have one of the other engines take the credit for it.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=53353[/img]Sulking around the railyard, Thomas is up late, and notices a boat skittering down the rails. Upon further investigation Thomas finds out that it’s an older sailor named “Sailor John” (John Hurt) and his boat, skiff (Jamie Campbell Bower), who he has outfitted with railway wheels in an effort to find a lost treasure around these parts. Skiff and Thomas soon hit it off, and Thomas agrees to help Sailor John in his search for the treasure. It’s obvious enough to the audience that Sailor John isn’t exactly on the up and up, but to Thomas and Skiff it passes right on by till it’s almost too late. Now Thomas and Skiff have to stop the greedy sailor before he destroys everything in his path to obtain his heart’s desire.
“Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure” is a bit of a darker change for “Thomas & Friends”, although I do say “darker” in quotes since Thomas isn’t exactly going to be bleak and scary for anyone, even young children. The first part of the movie is the normal railway adventures, with Thomas learning some life lessons on humility and the value that other people have, no matter how much we think of ourselves. Mix in the tail of Thomas and the little engines, who come back into the picture later on to prove that even small engines have value, and the addition of Ryan (voiced by academy award winner Eddie Redmayne) who acts as foil for Thomas’ arrogant nature, and you have your standard “Thomas & Friends” lessons for the kiddies. The twist comes in the form of the pirate treasure. The last half of the film gets into a good old fashioned adventure with the kids, dealing with a slimy old man who keeps his boat under his strict thumb, almost like a slave, and the destruction of greed.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=53361[/img]Those of you expecting the razor sharp and perfectly detailed level of animation of Disney, Pixar and the like may have to adjust their expectations a bit, but Universal studios brings the simplistic animation of “Thomas & Friends” to life with a very pleasing 1080p encode. The colors are almost whimsical in nature, showing strong primaries and some very decent detail level considering the cheap animation. Paint jobs and etchings on the steam engines show some nice attention to details, and every engine has its own specific design that the animators adhere to. Blacks are solid and I didn’t notice any washing out and turning them grey. There’s a small hint of banding in some of the night shots, but other than that, the picture is artifact free and as good as the minimalistic CGI animation can get.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=53369[/img]Much like the video encode, the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is more than capable of being a very pleasing experience. Dynamics are strong, with a solid amount activity in the surround channels along with perfectly defined vocals. There’s even some LFE to pack a punch here and there. It’s not going to dig into the single digits for extension, or blast you out of your seat with power, but a made for TV animated movie usually doesn’t go for the jugular. Surrounds get a decent amount of ambient noise, but the track is decidedly front heavy, with the majority of the lifting being done by the front 3 channels. Music is spot on perfect, flowing naturally throughout the film and balancing well with the rest of the track.
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“Thomas & Friends” Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure” is a nice change of pace from the standard rail yard stories that “Thomas & Friends” is known for. It’s a tad darker and actually has a VILLAIN for once, but fans of the series will be pleased to know that the standard life lessons about friendship and everyone being useful are still a major driving force for the narrative. The Blu-ray disc itself is more than satisfactory for those wanting a good Hi def experience, and while WE as parents may be a bit miffed at the lack of extras, the kids are going to have a blast just singing along with Thomas and his railway friends and likely AREN’T going to notice.
Starring: John Hurt, Jamie Campbell Bower, Eddie Redmayne
Directed by: David Stoten
Written by: Andrew Brenner
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English, Spanish, French DD 2.0
Runtime: 63 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 8th 2015
Buy Thomas & Friends: Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Recommended for the kiddie winks
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