Thomas & Friends: Race for the Sodor Cup
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
This article may reveal spoilers, especially considering the film had either been released recently or not in specific countries yet.
"It sadly leaves a lot to be desired much like the film that it desperately wanted to be when it should've just been trying to do its own thing: all of the elements to create something really great were there but due to the reboot refusing to let go of its trend for diet rehashes from the original Thomas & Friends series on top of having moments that I'm sure will drive longtime fans of the franchise insane, they just didn't completely deliver on what we had hoped for thus turning the overall experience into a frustrating movie with a lot of good things in it...it's not bad, it's just unsatisfying."— True Blue
"What's the point of me watching this when I can just watch The Great Race instead? Yeah, that's not a great special either, but it at least has some form of substance, like with its songs and the stuff involving Gordon and the Flying Scotsman. This is just a cheap, boring and all-around lazy attempt to redo what's been done better before."— JF the LOLZOR (ThomasNATION)
Thomas & Friends: Race for the Sodor Cup is an American-Canadian 2D animated film that serves as a feature film for Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go! It was in cinemas in the UK on September 17, 2021, the film aired on Treehouse in Canada on October 11, 2021, it premiered on Cartoon Network's preschool-block, Cartoonito in the United States on December 27, 2021, and it released on Netflix worldwide on March 18, 2022.
Super-fast Kana is convinced that her speed is all she needs to win the Race for the Sodor Cup, a competition that draws engines from all over the world. However, when a racing practice gone wrong causes her partner, Kenji, to get hurt, Kana ends up paired with Thomas. Kana and Thomas will discover that it takes teamwork to become the best racers they can be, but is it enough to defeat the international champions and win the Sodor Cup?
Why It Loses The Sodor Cup
Note: The same problems were carried over from Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go!
- The main problem with this film is the animation itself just like Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go!, it looks like as if it came straight out of ToonBoom Harmony. While "Misty Island Rescue", "Day of the Diesels" and "Big World! Big Adventures!" had decent animation. despite the BWBA movie still looking bad in some areas compared to the other two. The same cannot be said for this film, as if it suffers a lot of animation problems, including animation errors, missing engine parts, etc. Even the three Thomas' related films ("Misty Island Rescue", "Day of the Diesels", and "Big World! Big Adventures!") have way better animation than this. It's surprising since Nelvana has animated films based on their shows with slightly better or even great animation. This is not the case here as it just gets worse and worse every time, it sucks.
- Another problem is that Mattel themselves is because of the outrage between the kids, parents, grandparents and fans of the original series, stating that they did not at all like the new Thomas, they responded to them with the "It's made for kids" excuse (as stated in the controversy section). Which proves that they are really ignorant and are too stubborn to care about the problems the reboot has.
- As stated in WIS #1, there are a bunch of animation errors. It clearly shows that the animators at Nelvana were too lazy to fix them. Examples include:
- Nia missing her coal bunker in one scene of the movie.
- It normally doesn't happen in the actual show, but in this movie, it does.
- James missing his buffers, couplings, dome, whistle, cab windows, cab side cutouts, lamp, lining and one of his tender axles in the overhead view of Brendam Docks.
- Although James doesn't appear as one of the main characters in the series, but this is indeed surprising.
- Emily missing her tender in one scene
- Thomas and Kana switching places when they are behind Farona and Frederico with the ice cream van.
- It seems like Thomas and Kana have jumped tracks even if it wasn't shown because most of the time, it would be shown that engines would bounce/jump from one track to the other. This is surprising since it normally happens in the series (and also the film), but in that one particular scene, it didn't show them doing it at all. This animation error is common and is likely to happen in some of the next episodes that appear after this one.
- In a scene where Riff, Jiff, Farona, Frederico, Kana and Thomas couple up to their flatbeds with a boat, Jiff, along with Frederico couple up behind their flatbeds even though their front couplers are absent therefore should be rear-facing.
- Riff and Jiff's voices swap when they say that the track broke in one scene of the film.
- Nia missing her coal bunker in one scene of the movie.
- Another very large issue this film has is that it is very unoriginal as it has practically the exact same plot as The Great Race from the CGI original series, just without any of the wit, charm, imagination and even substance, making it feel like a lame knock-off.
- The idea of a movie for Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go! was completely unnecessary, as the show was universally panned by a lot of people for being extremely unfaithful to the source material, and especially worsening the downfall of Thomas & Friends, but for some reason, the reboot series ends up getting an unnecessary film that nobody even asked for, similar to Baby Shark with PinkFong and Baby Shark’s Space Adventure (along with another feature length film for Paramount+.) Plus, given the fact that Mattel is still willing to milk Thomas & Friends to death to something even more soulless and unrecognizable hurts the film even more and it's really hard for anyone else to see what they can do because of Mattel's ignorance, selfishness and greed.
- The plot is not only ridiculously boring and predictable, because by reading the synopsis, the viewers can figure out that the winner will be Thomas and Kana, but also pretty inconsistent.
- For example, the big threat of the movie is the chance of Kana and Thomas coming off the tracks during the race, but there's a scene in which they literally jump off the tracks during the race to catch up with Bulstrode.
- If you think of the title for a good solid 10 minutes of figuring something out, you can tell this movie would act as a genuine rip-off of "The Great Race" from the original show (aka, the last HiT Entertainment produced Thomas movie ever). Sure, "The Great Race" didn't have too much of an original plot and it wasn't that great of a Thomas movie, but at least it is more worthy of being given a watch or a rewatch compared to a movie that acts like a "Great Race" wannabe, and rips off that other Thomas movie into something more soulless and devoid of life compared to the former. So you could ask yourself: "What's there to come back to?"
- The characters aren't that great, and the film doesn't do anything to give them any additional layers.
- Thomas, just like in the new reboot, is a extremely annoying.
- Kana is just as annoying as Thomas.
- Harold, while not getting any lines, has a terrible redesign.
- The musical numbers, particularly "When I Go Fast," are cringe-inducing and overly childish to the point where they become underwhelming songs that could never be heard from ever again.
- It was nice to see Kenji and Hiro in the franchise again after the Season 24 episode of the original series "Kenji on the Rails Again" As they are likeable and tolerable characters throughout the movie. Not only they were likeable and more consistent to their original personalities like in the original show, but some of the other characters are also likeable in this movie:
- Bulstrode, for example; is likeable as he finally returns to the series after being absent for 26-years since "Special Attraction", and that episode was his only appearance in any Thomas television media ever.
- The characters all have scenes where they are all likeable and tolerable. Examples:
- Kenji introduced Thomas to Kana, and Kana to Thomas.
- Hiro helped Thomas and Kana train to win the Sodor Cup.
- Bulstrode was never like Cranky to the engines.
- The product management for the film (including the toys), is decent (depending on your view).
- Riff and Jiff are likeable and funny characters. The same can kind of be said for Farona and Frederico, since they can unintentionally leave the audience rooting for them rather than Thomas and Kana.
Before release and along with All Engines Go, Race for the Sodor Cup was met with negative reactions from Thomas fans, parents and audiences alike. Some even stated that one of the scenes in this film almost made their children cry.
When the film was released, it received widespread negative reviews from critics, audiences, parents and fans of the original series. However, some of the fans from the original series watched the movie. The film holds a 3.3/10 on IMDb.
As of August 2022, the film holds a 3.8/10 on IMDb, and it still holds 1-star ratings on Letterboxd. However, there are no ratings for the film on Rotten Tomatoes yet.
- This film is the first feature-film for Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go!
- Bulstrode returns in this after being absent from the original series for 26 years.
- This film was the first All Engines Go film in the Thomas franchise to never be in theaters or on any streaming service in the United States nor Canada. However, it was released on Netflix on March 18, 2022.
On September 10, 2021, a clip from the movie, which showed Thomas saying that he will try everything he can to win the big race, caused controversy when Mexican parents stated that their kids did not like the new makeover by calling it "menacing," "frightening" and "making their children cry." In another statement, Mattel responded to that with the "It's made for kids" excuse. The one clip from the film, which made children upset to the point where they almost start crying and made it onto the front page of a newspaper article, can be found here or on the bottom of the article.