Thomas & Friends: Journey Beyond Sodor

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Thomas & Friends: Journey Beyond Sodor Movie Poster Image
Solid messages, but more scares, spookiness than usual.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 73 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 4 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Facts about train engines, train cars, railway workers.

Positive Messages

Promotes friendship, new experiences, teamwork, self-confidence, acceptance of one's mistakes, second chances. Everyone can be "useful" and has something to offer to the world. "Friends help each other." "Nobody has to be the favorite."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Thomas makes mistakes but learns from them; he is loyal, generous, happy, and resourceful. Other trains also learn from their mistakes. Even the villains atone for their misbehavior and are given a second chance.

Violence & Scariness

Some spookiness and scares. Train mishaps, including derailment, plunges from track, runaways, getting lost. Thomas and a friend are held against their will by two misguided train engines. Scenes take place in a dark, hazardous steel mill, with fiery molten spills, precarious tracks, slag heaps.

Sexy Stuff

Another entry in the vast Thomas & Friends franchise of books, films, toys, games, and associated products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Thomas & Friends: Journey Beyond Sodor is a spirited adventure, with lots of music, in which Thomas travels beyond the safe harbor of his own island. Excited and optimistic, his wish to have new experiences doesn't quite work out the way he'd hoped. Thomas gets himself into a lot of trouble, but with the help of his own ingenuity and some new friends, he is rescued and learns important lessons about competitiveness and about being responsible and useful. Expect more action, more scares, and more spookiness than usual for a Thomas story. There are many train accidents -- a derailment, a plunge from a bridge, bumps and crashes -- and two train engines who are up to no good hold Thomas in a steel mill against his will. Molten steel spills, slag heaps, and a tall fence are obstacles the little blue tank engine must handle. Messages abound, about friendship, rivalries, a can-do attitude, and each person's own specialness. The movie also introduces some brand-new train engines, both distinctive and amusing. Naturally, many are immediately available for sale along with the old favorite franchise toys. Because of the jeopardy in this movie, it may not be suitable for kids who aren't comfortable with real versus pretend scares.


User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byAnna C. October 2, 2017

Too scary for target audience

My son is a huge fan and nearly 4 but had to leave cinema as he was scared. Such a shame as he loves the other films.
Adult Written byLoulou_oz December 23, 2019

Too scary for under-fives

My sons are normally huge Thomas fans, but we had to turn this off as my eldest - aged five - found the part when Thomas gets trapped in the mill so scary that... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byWhatanexitright... May 2, 2021

Moreso for all audiences than young

I never watched this until I was 13, and I really liked it! Keep in mind has the minority of violence, and is somewhat scary
Kid, 11 years old August 10, 2020

Scarier than the other Thomas films

Most of the other Thomas the Tank Engine films are wonderful for children... However, this entry to the franchise was not what I expected. It includes slavery,... Continue reading

What's the story?

Train engine James is such a know-it-all when THOMAS & FRIENDS: JOURNEY BEYOND SODOR opens. He's positive that he's Sir Topham Hat's favorite engine. Why else, he tells Thomas, would he get all the best jobs? Naturally, Thomas disagrees, and when James is given another great chance for an adventure, Thomas tricks his boastful friend, gets up very early in the morning, and takes that opportunity for himself. He's off to the mainland for an important delivery. Unfortunately, while the mainland is filled with wonderful places to see, Thomas gets distracted. All at once, he's hopelessly lost. He meets several interesting and friendly trains, but no one seems to be able to help him find his way. Only two engines, Hurricane and Frankie, offer their assistance. But be careful of strangers who might have selfish plans. Thomas is soon trapped in a place that makes him long for the joys of home. Back on Sodor, the fact that Thomas hasn't returned has everyone frightened. And it may be that only James, whose friendship with Thomas matters much more than being Sir Topham Hat's favorite, is the one who can bring him back to Sodor. 

Is it any good?

A suspenseful adventure, positive messages, and the addition of some spirited new characters who add fun to the tale make this franchise entry a solid choice for fans of the little blue tank engine. There's lots of lively music in Thomas & Friends: Journey Beyond Sodor, and vocal performances are top-notch. The only caution for family viewing is that the popular little trains, and particularly Thomas, are in jeopardy throughout this story. Shots of molten steel threatening the engines in a dark and strange setting, along with a shady plot by two mischievous trains, bring more danger to the fore than the usual train accidents, which are quickly resolved. As always, movies like this one are important marketing tools for Mattel and licensees of Thomas. Introducing new characters is a sure-fire way to keep the catalogues fresh and desirable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how movies like Thomas & Friends: Journey Beyond Sodor help sell all the Thomas & Friends toys and products. How does introducing new characters like Merlin and Hurricane and Frankie help build the Thomas brand? How does your family handle the introduction of so many new toys?

  • It's hard to admit mistakes sometimes. Why was it important for Thomas to admit he'd made a mistake when he tricked James? Why is it important to apologize? 

  • Do you think it's true that as this movie says, "You can't make new friends by making them stay, you have to be nice so that they want to be friends." What do you do when you want someone to like you? 

  • At one point in the story, Thomas says he feels useless, that he "does everything wrong." Do you ever feel like that? Think of some ways in which you can change those thoughts.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love preschool fun

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

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