Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Railway Mischief Mini-Review

So I finally bought Railway Mischief from a local Wal-Mart, and have watched it with my son a number of times. Here are my initial impressions:

Videography: I never have been super-impressed with the quality of the Thomas episodes on video as they appear via DVD on my 56" HD TV, however the choice to zoom in on all the characters for the storytelling is really a bad choice. It looks bad and I think is laziness to not have to show so much background, making less work for the animators.

Animation: While Cranky seems to invoke the look of a live model, and Kevin is rendered very well, most of the faces are not. Thomas looks about the same, but Gordon is one of the worst. His philtrum (the vertical indent from his nose to his mouth) keeps moving from the center of his nose to the left and right, making his face look very wrong. However, Victor may be the worst. His face almost looks a 2-D drawing, instead of 3-D. Scruff's nameplate is unreadable, and Stafford's nameplate is hard to read, which is unacceptable. The human faces all look different, especially the blonde switchman, the shool children, the Express passengers, and Sir Topham Hatt. His eyes seem much darker and it may be due to the realistic shading of his top hat, but it just looks wrong. It seems that shading is exaggerated with this animation, especially around the eyes and at the hairline.

Stories: The stories seem to be good, and now the writer gets credit with the title, which is different. I like that cabooses/brake vans are being used more, but a bright white caboose/brake van  at the back of the mail cars is a bad choice, standing out like a sore thumb in my opinion. However, I loved the choice to use Paxton in multiple stories.

Narrator: I liked all of the previous narrators, except for Pierce Brosnan, who I love as an actor, but thought was a bad choice for narrator. The new narrator, is also very good, and I understand the cost savings choice of only having one English narrator rather than having one for the Queen's (British/Australlian/Canadian) English and another for American English. Thomas and Friends has been doing that with all the new characters recently anyway, and I think that is a good idea. I don't like change for the sake of change, and it is sad that 2 very capable narrators lost their job, but the change makes sense here, in my opinion.

Overall: So far, from this one video, I think it was a mistake to leave Nitrogen Studios and go to Arc Productions. Hopefully, they will improve over time.