Journey Beyond Sodor - The First Impressions Review [Part 1] (by ThomasFan3000)

Caution: This review contains major spoilers for the movie, "Journey Beyond Sodor." 

With the midnight of August 8, Thomas' 2017 special movie, Journey Beyond Sodor made its world debut through US iTunes, and other digital download platforms. Its happened for the first time in a long time, when a Thomas special premieres on a direct release, instead of a prior cinema release [Journey will be released in UK, Australian, and US cinemas subsequently.] As Journey rolled out, the fandom was filled with mainly positive reactions to the movie that people thought would be heavily disappointing. While of course some people didn't thoroughly enjoy it, the general feedback was quite good. 


We here at ThomasNATION, got together three of our members (ThomasFan3000, SunilFan48 and JFtheLOLZOR) to write a First Impressions Review for Journey - our thoughts right now. We'll also be doing a grand Journey review with the complete team in the coming month.

Here's ThomasFan3000's First Impressions of Journey Beyond Sodor: 

I just stood up from watching Journey for the third time, with an excellent cup of coffee. While its pretty clear which of those two I enjoyed more [its the movie], here's what I think about Thomas' latest "biggest" adventure -

Journey was quite literally hyped up to zero. The trailer did little to nothing to create an excitement, blandly (now we realize) showcasing the worst parts of the movie, and not conveying a shred of the story. The clip uploaded to YouTube did even little, for as UpsideNow puts it - it was the worst part of the movie. I was still quite positive about the movie, I was quite hyped the morning it was coming out (for my timezone.) And I watched it. Would it be good? Bad? Horrible? Excellent?

The movie starts off wonderful. The opening sequence is quite lovely to watch. The intro is thrilling as well - not the best Thomas has had, but quite close, especially the way it all connects to form the island at the end.


After that, we slide into Thomas going around, and James' "Somebody Has To Be The Favourite." That musical number was really good to watch. With nothing less than a happy and funny note to it, it showcases James' personality and sets the stage for the movie. One thing I'd like to point out: Thomas' angst here at James really seems like "this is the final straw. No more of James' fullness - I've had enough" and this was very, very important to make clear. This results in Thomas stealing James' job, and going off to the mainland. This all seemed like a very good start for the movie, perfectly paced and natural-feeling. The whole musical sequence throughout these first 10 minutes was so good to listen to, especially the last part with Thomas - gives you a sense of happiness, a sense of the start of an adventure.


The next ten minutes are the movie's lowest. Not only is some of the animation terrible, but Who's Thomas? felt like an elongated... nothing. Beresford's loneliness and the need of having a friend was sacrificed except a line or two in the need of putting comic relief there - and that comic relief was merely okay. Beresford's sphinx-like role was nothing too pleasing, and it just felt like the movie went nowhere for those minutes. The song was sub-par at best.


The movie then progresses to a better part. Thomas stumbles upon the Experimental Engines' Yard. I personally love all of the new characters in the film. Love. All of them. They're all just so good - with a lot of depth, character - something that all of the previous movies did not succeed with. Lexi and Theo shine here (even though its not their best part in the movie) and this scene introduces them to the audience in a nice way. The movie starts going somewhere with this scene, - Thomas' renewed confidence and fuel is going to carry him along... and the Experimental are eventually going to be a blessing.


Ah, my favourite part! The middle is really the strongest part of the film. Everything's perfect in these scenes. Hottest Place was excellent. Hands down, loved every aspect of it. Hurricane and Frankie are so good. Like so good. Like so so so good. SO! MUCH! CHARACTER! They - yes - are the best villains. (Sailor John who?) Thomas' sadness starts getting real and you literally feel his pain in your bones. You've always seen him with all of his friends, and this scene, the song does a lot to stir those emotions. Thomas' struggle feels very real, and the escape scene is a real rush - both, the failed one and the successful one. 


Merlin's introduction couldn't have been better. He and his voice actor is excellent. In fact, each one of the new characters have such talented voice actors. Frankie, Lexi, Merlin truly stand out in terms of their voices, and Hurricane and Theo are no less. Thomas now finds himself back at the Experimental Engines yard, and What Can't We Do? is a really fun, happy and uplifting song. It might just be the best lyrically written piece - I truly love it.


The next part of the movie is a real rush. Thomas goes back to Beresford - the better one of his two scenes. While it throws railway realism away to Bridlington, its quite clever - the whole plot and script of it. Merlin convinces Thomas and the Experimental Engines to help, and the plan is in action to rescue James (who's now Hurricane and Frankie's captive because of a very clever encounter at Bridlington). When Frankie and Hurricane put on Hottest Place again, James lets them know he isn't falling for it - and his dialogues really convey that he's a complete badass. This was really amazing. 

The next scene is quite funny and intriguing, and then the rescue begins. I am really a fan of Lexi and Theo's performance here. Its nothing if not excellent. "EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY!"


Now, the cat's out of the bag, and Frankie and Hurricane realise what's going on. This scene is again a rush. James' chase is quite cleverly scripted, and the music is wonderful. Everything flows and that's what I love about this movie. Hurricane's wheels melting was really shocking to watch - it shocks you, but you feel sad for the villain as well. Frankie crying and the whole "too much work" could've certainly been better justified though. As one of the fans suggested, the plot of Steelworks shutting down because of not enough work done would've been a brilliant storyline - but its good as is. The conclusion was rushed, though. It could've been more elaborate.

Something I'd like to add: James' character was written exceptionally well, throughout the movie. All of his actions, from the start - his ego, his "I'm the favourite" complex, his badass attitude at the Steelworks, him simply wanting to rescue Thomas to be a hero, everything was perfectly handled and brilliantly put down. Brenner really knows James.

The finale song is quite heartwarming, especially everyone - and Thomas returning... its all wonderful. The movie concludes at a light, heartwarming note and Henry's line, "What'd I miss?" was gold.


I honestly loved the movie. True it had its low moments (the 10 to 20min part) but overall, it was excellent. It blew my expectations away. The emotion and heart of the story was really well-handled and written, and I think it actually surpasses Tale of the Brave there. The bouncing didn't actually bother me (I'll justify in the final review) - because it doesn't take from the story and makes the songs a treat to watch. Moreover, the songs are so good. For me, JBS and TGR's soundtracks are at the same place. Although the latter had the better finale, the rest all was Journey's excellency. 

All in all, an epic movie, a brilliant movie. The only Thomas movie better is Legend of the Lost Treasure (but that probably won't ever be beat.) I love Journey. I truly do. 

Rating: 4.6 / 5

Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of First Impressions to know what SunilFan48 and JFtheLOLZOR think! Full review with more detailed opinions, on newbies, songs, animation, script and everything coming in October with the Journey Beyond Sodor - Grand ThomasNATION Review! 

Stay Tuned! Thanks for reading!

- ThomasFan3000.



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ThomasFan3000 - Jainil Devani
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Comments

  1. It's a shame Henry missed out on all the singing while he was at the Steamworks

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