HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Thomas & Friends: The Great Race
HTS Overall Score:71
“Thomas & Friends” has become a staple in the cinematic kid’s world over the years, gaining almost as much notoriety on this side of the pond as the “Tinkerbell” and “Barbie” movies do for little kids. Warm and sunny, Thomas the Tank Engine is an agreeable little story about trains and shiny colors for little kids to enjoy as an hour long babysitter. The movie are never overly ambitious, but they focus on life lessons for young children and try to give them encouragement to be what they w ant to be without going into an overly pandering “ra ra!!!” cheer. While I’m not going to be grabbing a beer and inviting the guys over to watch this latest film in the series, I do fully admit that they are great harmless entertainment for the under 10 crowd and are more than palatable enough for adults to watch along with and not feel like it’s torture.
This time around the island of Sodor is about to play second place. Thomas (Joseph May) is having a good old time dreaming of speed and winning races when the good news comes around. The mainland is about to have a great race and each station is getting ready to bring their best engines to the event. Thomas is giddy with glee at the idea of being in a race and pelts Mr. Topham Hat (Keith Wickham) with all sorts of ideas to help win the race events. Ideas that Mr. Hat turns around applies to OTHER engines. Frustrated and feeling kind of hurt and left out, Thomas goes about his daily business, but with a bit of a gripe against the idea that he’s not being thought of for competition.
Along the way he runs into a race contestant from India, a cute little steam engine called Ashima (Tina Desai), who helps the little engine gain his footing. Encouraging Thomas to be himself, she slowly turns that frown upside down and the two become friends. To make matters a bit more interesting, a sneaking little diesel engine (named Diesel) almost ruins Thomas’s chance to get into the big race by trying to get Sir Topham Hat’s attention in a stunt that nearly wrecks the two contestants.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=80713[/img]“Thomas & Friends: The Great Race” steams ahead at a very amiable and predictable pace, adhering to the same structure and pacing that the series has stuck to the last 5 or 6 years. Thomas is always one to buck against authority and get a little frustrated, but he is a kind hearted engine nonetheless. Like always he gets into more trouble than he should have due to his over exuberance in proving himself to Mr. Topham Hat and the rest of the engines, but as always he comes out on top and finds a way to be useful once again.
Ashima is a nice little addition to the story and is truly one of the best part of the whole movie. She and Thomas form a friendship that is honorable and noteworthy to people of all ages, and the major lesson comes in being yourself with a subset of sticking up for your friends, even if that means you have to sacrifice WINNING something in order to keep that person/engine safe. Simple and sweet, the movie is good wholesome fun for the children that doesn’t pander, but sticks to good general life lessons and values that transcend most cultures and family structure. The story itself is new, but really, the show is the same old show with Thomas being the cute little engine that could time and time again.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=80721[/img]“Thomas & Friends” is not given the royal CGI treatment like a Disney/Pixar or Dreamworks film, but the simple animation is awash with all sorts of bright and cheery colors that permeate the screen. Thomas is brilliantly blue while Gordon is shiny green (or blue when he gets streamlined), and Ashima is a sparkling with all sorts and shades of colors on her brightly decorated frame. Fine detail is excellent, though the animation doesn’t give us a lot to work with here. The most detailed items tend to be the tank engines and the decorations given to them for the race. Lines are smooth and clean, and there is no signs of major artifacting on the disc (not surprising with only 63 minutes of runtime), and the black levels are very nicely done without any crush or greyed out blacks.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=80729[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is always a simple affair with the series, and it is replicated here with another fairly front heavy track to enjoy today. Dialog and music are the mainstays of the show (this one being much more musically inclined than the others I’ve seen) and both are crisp and cleanly replicated across the board. Music fills out the LFE channel and surrounds quite nicely, but the rest of the time they are mainly supplementary with a few sounds of wheels clacking across the track in the background, or a whistle blowing over the right shoulder. As mentioned, LFE is fairy reserved and tends to be relegated to the musical numbers, but the race at the end has some nice punch to it and there is a scene where Thomas runs into an obstruction that actually has a feeling of power.
• Sing-Along Music Video : "Will You Won't You."
• Sing-Along Music Video : "Streamlining."
• Sing-Along Music Video : "Full of Surprises."
• Sing-Along Music Video : "You Can Only Be You."
• 20 Character Shorts
• Guess Who? Puzzles
“Thomas & Friends: The Great Race” is a simple affair, but a fun little hour of entertainment for the kiddies that ends in a fairly unique and “bit” finale (for the show). Once again the movie is all about Thomas and his issues with authority and learning to be useful once more, but the addition of guest stars Gordon and Ashima makes for a charming little story that is cute enough to watch with the kids without feeling like you have to force yourself to do so. Audio and video are great, and the combo packs comes with a DVD so it can be watched in the car when the Blu-ray player isn’t available at home. Extras revolve around the many musical numbers and videos in the story (prepare to have those stinking songs stuck in your head for hours), and once again, this makes for a charming little kids movie that they should enjoy if they’ve liked the other “Thomas & Friends” films.
Starring: John Hasler, Jules De Jongh, Tina Desai
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 13th 2016
Buy Thomas & Friends: The Great Race On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Recommended for the kiddie winks
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