Thomas and the Magic Railroad is an interesting one. I remember getting it on VHS for Christmas in 2001, in a box set that included little plastic toys of main characters Thomas, Lady, and Diesel 10. As a kid, I was all over it; to see my childhood hero in a major live action film was overwhelming, and hearing all the Sodor engines talk with their own voices was equally mind blowing.
In retrospect, while it's nothing truly awful, it's certainly not good by any means. Though it was scripted and directed by series creator Britt Allcroft, the film is often criticised for severely "Americanizing" the original British series, with all sorts of gimmicky magical traits being introduced into what was simply an English railway with talking trains, prone to constant accidents which likely causes declining attendance and gargantuan insurance costs. Allcroft herself has said studio interference greatly changed the film's outcome, leaving it very different from the original story she had planned, which is always a shame at the end of the day.
And of course, such a flawed story is a comfortable home for many daft oversights...
- A common mistake noticed by most people: Thomas enters the magic railroad with Lily and sees the coal truck on a neighbouring track. However, when Lady later travels down the same magic railroad, there is now only one track.
- During the opening scene, an establishing shot shows all the engines hard at work at Knapford station. Amongst all the chit chat and ambience, one can hear James saying "Hello, Thomas!", despite the fact that Thomas is nowhere to be seen. Even stranger, one can even hear Thomas replying with a greeting of his own...yikes.
- Sodor seems to be completely devoid of humans, making any services the engines are carrying out, passenger or freight, completely pointless. On top of that, it begs the question: who is supplying these engines with coal and water, and how are they having rolling stock coupled up to them? And on top of THAT, later in the film when Lady is reborn, she requires Burnett Stone to operate her, whereas all the other engines can move freely by themselves.
- When Lady and Thomas pass under a bridge as Diesel 10 chases them, Thomas is smiling, despite them both being in mortal peril.
- Diesel 10 has a claw attached to his roof known as Pinchy. Pinchy is later used to hold Mr. Conductor hostage and Diesel 10 threatens to drop him off the viaduct if he does not give him the information he needs. In order to escape, Mr. Conductor severs one of Pinchy's pipes, causing it to malfunction. Nicely done, but how did Pinchy get fixed afterwards? It is seen working just fine for the rest of the film, and with this magical Sodor being completely devoid of human presence, it doesn't seem likely that Diesel 10 would have anyone to go for repairs.
- When by the windmill with Lily, Mr. Conductor, and Thomas, Junior is swept away and lands on Diesel 10, who whisks him away to his potential demise. But this isn't like Mr. Conductor, where Diesel 10 had him trapped in Pinchy; Junior is just sat on top of Diesel 10 with no means of restraint. He could've easily jumped off without risk of injury, seeing as he was able to survive being thrown into the sky and subsequently crashing onto a speeding train.
- Why was James in that strangely positioned furnace? He was just parked in a siding doing absolutely nothing. It seems rather strange that he'd suddenly go to what is evidently the scariest, most dangerous, and most-likely-to-have-an-accident place that Sodor has to offer.
- Diesel 10, a locomotive weighing at least 80 tons, can be supported by a single wooden sleeper when hanging off the broken viaduct, and can then crash onto a small barge without remotely damaging it.
- There is no way Diesel 10 would have difficulty catching up with Thomas or Lady during the final chase scene. Thomas and Lady are tank engines that, in real life, would reach a top speed of around 40mph. Diesel 10, on the other hand, is based on a BR Class 42, which could reach speeds of over 90mph. But why I am bringing all this logic into a children's movie about talking trains? Because I have nothing better to do when I'm not at work.
Thanks for reading!