Hero of the Rails
|Hero of the Rails|
|Directed by||Greg Tiernan|
|Produced by||Nicole Stinn|
|Written by||Sharon Miller|
Jules de Jongh
|Narrated by||Michael Angelis (UK)
Michael Brandon (US)
Vue Cinemas &
|Running time||63 minutes|
Hero of the Rails is a 2009 CGI feature-length special and film spin-off of the TV series Thomas & Friends. The film introduces full CGI animation, replacing model work and the addition of a voice cast for the characters alongside the narration to the TV series. The film features the voice of Ben Small and Martin Sherman as Thomas the Tank Engine for the UK and US respectively. It was first released on 8 September 2009 on DVD and was released to iTunes on 12 January 2010. To promote the film a "Day Out With Thomas 2010: The Hero of the Rails Tour" was held at locations such as the Illinois Railway Museum, where guests could participate in activities such as arts and crafts or ride on a 15-ton replica of Thomas the Tank Engine. A mobile app, Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rail, was released in May 2011.
One summer on the Island of Sodor, Spencer (voiced by UK: Matt Wilkinson/US: Glenn Wrage) arrives to help the Duke (voiced by UK: Matt Wilkinson/US: William Hope) and Duchess (voiced by UK: Teresa Gallagher/US: Jules de Jongh) with the construction of their new summer house. After being an absolute nuisance to all of the other engines by bossing them around, Thomas (voiced by UK: Ben Small/US: Martin Sherman) challenges Spencer to a contest of strength, taking heavy cargo around the island. Thomas's brakes fail after climbing a tall hill, and he runs out of control through an overgrown, abandoned line. There, Thomas finds Patchwork Hiro (voiced by Togo Igawa), an old abandoned engine from Japan. Hiro does not want to be found out by the Fat Controller (voiced by UK: Keith Wickham/US: Kerry Shale), fearing he will be scrapped, so Thomas promises to keep him his secret and work to make Patchwork Hiro "Master of the Railway" once again. Later, he's taken to the Sodor Steamworks for repairs, where he finds old parts for Hiro. He takes them with permission from Victor (voiced by UK: Matt Wilkinson/US: David Bedella), the Steamworks engine, only to discover that Hiro's hiding place is dangerously close to the Duke and Duchess's new summer house.
The following day, he tells Percy (voiced by UK: Keith Wickham/US: Martin Sherman) about Patchwork Hiro, and asks Percy to do his own job while he helps Hiro. Percy misplaces his own mail trucks and breaks down while doing Thomas's job, so Thomas brings him to the Steamworks. The Fat Controller finds out about this and scold Thomas by forcing him to do Percy's work. With nobody else to ask for help, Thomas tells the rest of his friends about Hiro. They all work together in bringing Hiro new parts, distracting Spencer, and keeping the operation a secret from the Fat Controller while Thomas and Percy try to find the missing mail trucks. Patchwork Hiro makes friends with all of the engines, but gradually grows homesick. On the day that the last necessary part for Hiro is to be delivered, Spencer discovers Percy's mail trucks, only to be cornered by Thomas, James (voiced by UK: Keith Wickham/US: Kerry Shale) and Toby (voiced by UK: Ben Small/US: William Hope). The Fat Controller accuses Spencer of stealing the trucks and demands him to return them to Percy.
While Thomas and Hiro wait for Percy with the last part, they hear Spencer's whistle and run. Spencer finds them and gives chase, but without the last part, Hiro falls apart and is forced to a stop. Spencer is suddenly distracted by Gordon (voiced by UK: Keith Wickham/US: Kerry Shale) while Thomas moves Hiro to a new hiding place. The Duke and Duchess are furious with Spencer for abandoning his own work, and Thomas asks to assist him, in order to keep his eye on Spencer and to gain the trust of the Fat Controller. Meanwhile, the other engines visit Hiro to keep his spirits up. When Thomas finally decides to tell the Fat Controller about Hiro, Spencer tries to stop him, but he is foiled by a rickety bridge which collapses beneath him.
When Thomas explains Hiro's situation to the Fat Controller, he reassures Thomas that he would never have scrapped the "Master of the Railway", and the following day, Thomas and Percy bring him to the Steamworks. There, Victor and his assistant, Kevin (voiced by UK: Matt Wilkinson/US: Kerry Shale) work together to restore Hiro. Once he's as good as new, Hiro with Rocky (voiced by UK: Matt Wilkinson/US: Glenn Wrage) rescues Spencer, and they work with Thomas on the summerhouse. Spencer apologizes to the two engines, saying they are "both fine engines and fine friends." Hiro misses his home island, so the Fat Controller arranges for Hiro to return home. A farewell party is held at the docks, and Thomas promises Hiro that Sodor will always be his home too.
While in previous installments of Thomas and Friends, a single narrator was chosen to voice each character, Hero of the Rails introduces additional voice actors, and this change carried on to the Thomas' thirteenth series. A HiT Entertainment press release from 2007 stated that "three upcoming Thomas and Friends specials" would be narrated by Pierce Brosnan. Hero of the Rails is one of the three specials along with The Great Discovery and Misty Island Rescue.
|Martin Sherman||US||Thomas and Percy|
|Ben Small||UK||Thomas and Toby|
|Michael Angelis||UK||The Narrator|
|Michael Brandon||US||The Narrator|
|Teresa Gallagher||UK||Emily, Mavis, and The Duchess of Boxford|
|William Hope||US||Edward, Toby, and The Duke of Boxord|
|Jules de Jongh||US||Emily, Mavis, and The Duchess of Boxford|
|Kerry Shale||US||Henry, Gordon, James, Kevin, and Sir Topham Hatt|
|Keith Wickham||UK||Edward, Henry, Gordon, James, Percy, and The Fat Controller|
|Matt Wilkinson||UK||Spencer, Victor, Rocky, Kevin, and The Duke of Boxford|
|Glenn Wrage||US||Spencer and Rocky|
A mobile app, entitled Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails, was developed by Callaway Digital Arts and released on 13 May 2011. Kirkus Reviews rated the app positively, commenting that it "delivers the same predictable experience they relish in video and book form, gently augmented with interactive enhancements."
The movie was adapted into a Little Golden Book book by the same name, which released on 11 May 2010.
DVD Talk gave a mixed review for Hero of the Rails, stating that it could be worth a rental while overall criticizing the film's plot, modernizations, and stating that it "[felt] like a poorly-thought-out extension of the series, designed simply to introduce a new format and score some cash." Commonsensemedia gave the film three stars, as they felt that it would not disappoint fans of the series but that it was also your "typical Thomas tale". About.com gave the movie four stars, opining that while the film looked better than they expected and praised the film for the value lessons it imparted, it was also "unremarkable compared to every other CG animated children's movie".
- "Hero of the Rails". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
- Miloudi, Sarah (24 September 2009). "Thomas Steams into Computer Age; Engine Is Given a Voice in Remodelling". Western Mail (subscription required). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- "Thomas the Tank Engine steams into computer age". Wales Online. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Stewart, Laura (14 August 2009). "All Aboard!". Daily Herald (subscription required). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- "HIT Entertainment and Callaway Digital Arts Launch Angelina's New Ballet Teacher App.". Entertainment Close-up (subscription required). 15 June 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Savvas, Christine (24 September 2009). "Hi-tech Thomas the Tank Engine returns with his very own voice". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- "In The Biggest Thomas Event Of The Year, See And Hear Thomas Like Never Before In An All-New Movie!" (Press release). HIT Entertainment Digital Newsroom. 2009-06-08. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- "Review: Hero of the Rails". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Dahlke, Kurt. "Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails". DVD Talk. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- "Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails (review)". Commonsensemedia. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Bryson, Carey. "Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails - DVD Review". About.com. Retrieved 1 May 2014.