A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that all the familiar trains are back in a new preschooler-appropriate adventure. Thomas & Friends: King of the Railway is intended for very young viewers and delivers a simple story and easy-to-understand messages about teamwork and keeping one's word. There are a few mildly scary scenes (runaway trains on a steep hill, an engine trapped in a mine), but the movie is mainly lighthearted (no villains here) and, as always, upbeat and positive in tone and resolution as well as the music that comes along with the ride. Thomas & Friends is part of a vast franchise of books, videos, toys, clothing, and children's accessories, so expect an interest in those, too.
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What's the story?
There's lots of excitement on the Isle of Sodor. Sir Robert, Earl of Sodor, is returning to the island's Ulfstead Castle, the home of his ancestors, one of whom was a dearly beloved king. The castle is in disrepair, and Sir Robert wants to return it to its former glory. He confides to Thomas and some of his friends that many surprises are coming their way. His only regret is that the old king's golden crown has been missing for many years. Sir Topham Hatt and his regular team of trains, along with Stephen (an old wooden engine Sir Robert has brought with him) and some new streamliners, all take part in the project. Things take a briefly scary turn, however, when Thomas, in his eagerness to cheer up a new friend, breaks his word.
Is it any good?
Kids who love Thomas will not be disappointed. Simple concepts and language ensure that this episode is accessible even for the very youngest viewers. Positive messages about behavior have an organic role in the story, and kids will relate to the values that Thomas and his friends represent.
Occasionally, scenes jump from one to another more often than seems necessary, and there are a few story elements that appear and then disappear, never to be resolved (for example, Hero's return from the mainland, and a burst safety valve). Still, generally, the movie is a pleasant addition to the Thomas video series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss the importance of teamwork in accomplishing goals. What projects in your home require teamwork? Does Thomas, working with his friends, set a good example?
Thomas gets Stephen into trouble when he shares Sir Robert's surprise with him. Why is it important for Thomas to admit his mistake and apologize? What does Thomas learn about keeping his word?
The trains learn that Stephen, though very old, is a wonderful addition to their family. How is this antique train different from the others? What makes him special?
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