WARING: If you haven't seen this movie, go see it RIGHT NOW. Because, this review contains spoilers. By the way, if I say something you disagree with, please conduct yourself in a calm, adult manner. I'm only here to give my opinion.
The 2016 special, huh? Well, what can I say? For one thing, I really like it. As in, I REALLY like it. It's honestly one of the first specials I really looked forward to, other than SLOTLT. The good songs and good characters really helped boost this movie up on my scale. While there are some problems, I'll always like this movie.
First, let's talk about the downsides:
1. The Diesel Subplot - Okay, in my opinion, this is the largest problem with the movie. It was just so ungodly USELESS. Yes, it gave us that fabulous song, "I'm Full Of Surprises", but that was honestly the only good thing that came out of it. Seriously, WHY did the diesels even show up? They were only there to give Thomas a reason not to go to the Great Railway Show. They didn't even need to be there! Thomas could've, oh, I dunno, CRASHED ON HIS OWN? It would've made the pacing seem a lot more natural, because the diesels show up for a bit, and then we never see them again. Yeah, they come back at the credits for a last minute gag, which was pretty funny, but still.
2. The Story - Now, this is not really a problem. Just a small nitpick I have. As much as I love the story of this movie, it just seemed so predictable. It wasn't as surprising as Blue Mountain Mystery or SLOTLT for example. But other than that, it wasn't that bad.
Now, let's get to the good stuff:
1. The Songs - For the first musical the series has had, it was pretty darn good. The songs all tie in to the story in some way, and are all memorable in their own right. If they can get these songs stuck in our heads, then they certainly did their job well. I already mentioned that "I'm Full Of Surprises" is a great song, but "Streamlining", "You Can Only Be You", and "Will You, Won't You" are just as good. I heard them once, and I will NEVER get them out of my head.
2. The Engine Racing Course - Okay, this has to be my favorite setting in recent seasons. The size and scale of the place is enormous! Besides, they have all these different sections for different events. You have a loop of track for racing, an uphill section for strength, and a large yard for shunting. If this was a real place, I would get on the nearest plane to the UK, no question.
3. The International Engines - Y'all shoulda seen this coming. For anyone who doesn't know, I LOVE these guys. Each if them has their own unique design from their country, which is really awesome and diverse. And, to add to that, they have so much potential! Ashima and Vinnie were the only ones who had a prominent role in the movie, and that's fine, but I also want to hear what the others had to say. Besides, if they were to come back, it would give them a chance to get more character development. And, speaking of Vinnie...
4. Vinnie - Now, I know a lot of people don't like this guy, but honestly, I LOVE HIM. He's the first real steamer antagonist the series has had. HiT tried to make him as intimidating as possible, and boy, did they accomplish their goal. He's big, he's mean, he's even violent! If that doesn't show signs of a true bully, then I don't know what does. Besides, his basis engine was perfect for his role. A giant 4-8-4. The part of the movie where he bullies Philip, is honestly my favorite part of the movie. Not because I promote bullying, but because it shows what happens when you mess with the wrong person... or, engine... You get the idea. Had Thomas and Ashima not been there, Vinnie could've seriously hurt Philip. My point is, that Vinnie is a character that gives people a valuable lesson: You WILL meet people in your life who are complete bullies and a-holes, so don't screw with them, because your friends aren't always gonna be there to protect you.
So, overall, how was the movie? Friggin awesome! It was everything I could've wanted from a special like this. True, it has it's problems, but other than that, not bad, HiT. Not bad at all.