Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails

Movie review by
Angela Tiene, Common Sense Media
Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails Movie Poster Image
Typical Thomas tale with mild peril; fun for fans.
  • NR
  • 2009
  • 60 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids learn about the value of honesty and compassion.

Positive Messages

 The movie is all about helping those in need, cooperating with friends, and dealing with bullies.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are all basically well-intentioned, with the exception of Spencer, who comes around by the end. Thomas and his friends don't always make the right behavior choice initially -- Thomas tries to keep Hiro a secret at first -- but they learn to help and support each other.

Violence & Scariness

Thomas gets lost on an abandoned train track after his brakes fail during a race with Spencer. He’s frightened when he first encounters Hiro.


Thomas the Tank Engine has a wide range of books, toys, clothes, and other merchandise. This film introduces three new characters, which will no doubt be available in stores soon.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the latest Thomas & Friends movie will not disappoint aficionados of the industrious tank engine. The franchise mostly sticks to its formula of good-natured yet sometimes squabbling engines performing their daily tasks. But action and intrigue figure prominently, also, resulting in some mildly intense scenes; for example, Thomas careens onto the wrong track and gets lost in the woods. Another engine gets in trouble when he helps Thomas keep a secret from the others. In typical Thomas fashion, though, the action is pretty tame, and by the end, the engines learn important messages about honesty, compassion, and friendship. This movie introduces several new characters to the Island of Sodor -- Hiro, Kevin, and Victor -- so don’t be surprised when your kids want to add to their toy collection.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byEl M. October 13, 2017

Enjoyable with not too much scary or suspense

My 3.5 and 5.5 year olds enjoyed this movie, although the 3.5 year old was a little bored towards the end. There is a part where Thomas goes 'off the rail... Continue reading
Parent of a 3-year-old Written byPoppayo December 27, 2010

Just as good the 328th time...

My son loves this movie, it's his first cult favorite.
Teen, 14 years old Written byNonsensical_Reviews January 10, 2021

One of Thomas' underrated features is great for kids.

Hero Of The Rails is a 2009 TTTE special/movie directed by Greg Tiernan and Jeff Bailey and starring Martin Sherman, Ben Small, Matt Wilkinson, Keith Wickham, M... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byDogcat November 23, 2020

I haven’t watched this movie before.

Maybe Rebecca Spark, Holly R., and amp; Leslie C. Will like this movie because it is appropriate for kids.

What's the story?

After high-tech private engine Spencer bullies him into a contest, Thomas’ brakes fail and he winds up lost on an unfamiliar track in the woods. He’s shocked to discover an old, strange engine named Hiro, who’s been rusting in the forest, afraid to come out for fear of being scrapped. Thomas vows to restore Hiro to his former glory as “Master of the Railway,” but he’s foiled at each turn by Spencer, who’s determined to figure out what he’s up to. Only when Thomas asks for help and support from his friends can he accomplish his task, and get Hiro back on the rails.

Is it any good?

Thomas’ relationship with Hiro, the aging engine who was once a superstar, is touching, and demonstrates how younger children admire their older heroes. The movie follows the classic Thomas format: Thomas and his engine buddies have a problem to solve, and they go about it much as kids themselves would -- with a few mistakes, misunderstandings, and confrontations along the way.

The action sequences are fun to watch; when Thomas’ brakes fail while he’s racing Spencer, kids will be on the edge of their seats. The movie broaches subjects that will resonate with young kids: Thomas and his friends all feel intimidated by bigger, faster Spencer, but by the movie’s end they realize that each of them has their own special talents. By working together to rescue Hiro, they all become heroes. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how telling the truth is almost always better than keeping a secret.

  • Spencer is pretty mean to the other engines. How does it feel to be bullied, and why do people (or engines) bully others? What should you do if someone is mean to you?

  • Why is it important to help someone in need?

  • How do Thomas & Friends movies help to sell other products?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love cartoons

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