Monday, 12 January 2015

NWR Editorial: The Adventure Begins Trailer



Happy New Year and Welcome to 2015! This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Railway Series books by the Rev.W.Awdry in 1945. In previous years of celebrations, HIT Entertainment marketed the anniversaries by republishing and releasing the Railway Series books, as well as republishing the 2nd book 'Thomas the Tank Engine' in anniversary slipcases. However 2015 seems to make the anniversary celebrations very different. With a brand new production team behind Thomas the Tank Engine since 2013 caring and respecting the original source with such passion and with the praise that S17 and 18 along with 'King of The Railway' and 'Tale of The Brave' getting much praise from parents and fans over the UK, US and Australia. What better way to mark the 70th anniversary then a special about how Thomas had come to Sodor. The trailer was released this week in the UK on the 'Dinos and Discoveries' DVD. The trailer was first announced of BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) back in late 2014. Fans began speculating that it's a promotion for the 70th, a series compilation or a DVD special. 

The trailer starts off with a glorious and realistic view of the Island of Sodor and amazing sweeping shots with engines such as Gordon and Henry passing by. Now I understand that this started some speculation on the subject of accuracy. Henry didn't arrive on Sodor until 1922 and was in his infamous shape at the time and Gordon didn't arrive until about 1922/23, but we'll get to that later. 

We're now introduced to 'Flashback Thomas' as I'll dub him as and the new voice actor John Hasler. Hasler has been in other productions such as Timon in The Lion King stage production as well as James in HIT Entertainment's 'Fireman Sam' and Gargoyle in 'Mike The Knight' as well as 'Toot the Tiny Tugboat'. In my opinion John Hasler sounds exactly like Ben Small only slightly younger so I give my kudos to HIT Entertainment to find someone who sounds almost exactly like Ben Small, as many fans would know Ben Small left the voice over as Thomas due to HIT Entertainment wanting a fresher voice for Thomas. I wish John Hasler all the best for his work as the number one blue engine.

To me 'Flashback Thomas' looks fantastic. The Southern Railway green looks striking what you see on locomotives that were built for the Southern Railway, here's an example of a SR School Class locomotive with the same livery and lining:
Plus after over thirty years of waiting we finally see James in his original livery! 

This surprised me when I first saw the trailer. In 1984 when Thomas the Tank Engine made their debut on British television, James was seen in his red livery. I understand that at the time the show has it limitations but we've seen many repaints in the early years of the show such as Oliver's scrap model in S3 so why not James? I will admit this new production team is much better then Britt Allcroft and Sam Barlow's team combine and I do respect Britt Allcroft and David Mitton for what they've done for the show. 

However it did slightly annoy me over that Thomas was racing next to James despite that James' accident off screen and off the page. However I know that the new production team respect the original source and it didn't put me off from the excitement. Plus it's easily acceptable if you're not a purist that goes hotheaded over the small things like Ringo Starr not being the narrator for nearly 30 years or that the mainland station is not exactly like Barrow-In-Furness. 'Beggars are not choosers' you know.

Now comes the many things that comes from the fan base, the complaints, sorry if I offended some fans here but the fan base does have a history of some complaining and fights sadly over the internet with nitpicking, I tend to nitpick myself but the small things don't matter, even I can get into some fights myself unfortunately. This is the accuracy issue I've mentioned earlier. Of course Gordon and Henry were seen at the start of the trailer but when you look later on in the trailer, Henry is not seen elsewhere. The scene at the start could be maybe be the start of the special, maybe the prologue. Plus the SR green livery that Thomas is wearing is of course not the true colours that E2 had worn during their working day. The E2's were painted in tuscan livery. But in my opinion it might not sell well if Thomas was in tuscan livery for toys. The only tuscan paint job I see on products are mostly model trains. It's also a fact that young children do like bright colours. According to a BBC research in 2005, young children's eyes aren't fully developed yet to see dull colours like grey or brown and tuscan is not really a bright colour when you look at it in my opinion. More of it can be seen here on 'ehow'.

Also some fans complain that Henry is not in his original shape, considering that if he appears in the flashback. To me that is no big deal. His new shape was seen in the first season in the close up shots prior to 'The Flying Kipper' and that in my opinion, Henry's old shape looks like his new shape but with the bulk upside down. As much as I would like to see Henry in his old shape in CGI I think it also adds the expense of the CGI render. It happened before in 2012 in 'Blue Mountain Mystery' by Nitrogen Studios during the Henry flashback. But if you really look at the classic series back in the day, they weren't that faithful as well. I know that the Reverend himself has accepted how the way the first two season had intrepid his story's to the screen and he pretty much said that in interviews such as the 60 minutes documentary in Australia back in the 90's. Here are some examples on it, Knapford station was the main station instead of Tidmouth, Henry, Donald and Douglas weren't blue and Elsbridge was the junction and not Knapford. So if these 'purists' think that the new production team aren't doing their job they should look at Britt Allcroft's interpretation and go and read the books instead, the books are still there.

But despite all of that this new special is gearing up many of the older fans including myself of course. The animation is truly striking as well with the shining gloss on the engines, as seen in the Logan promo video on the Thomas Wooden Railway Website. It feels a bit realistic. All in all I am excited for the special and I'm in hopes in getting a copy despite that this is exclusive to Wal*Mart in the US and ASDA in the UK and I understand as those two countries are the biggest when it comes to Thomas. I believe the US copy would end up on Amazon US as I know some sellers do sell the exclusives and I did get them in 2013 and 2014. However I'm looking forward to the book coming out in February by Random House and I will review it later on and hopefully this DVD too. 

If we want this kind of stuff again I implore you to purchase this DVD at your local Wal*Mart or ASDA when it's out on the shelves. This DVD special so far is a great way to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Railway Series and understand the rich heritage of the well known children's icon and I believe that if he were still around today, the Reverend Wilbert Awdry would approve of this.