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Train Master - family and children's DVD review
TRAIN MASTER Not rated by the MPAA curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Featuring: Michael Biesanz, Jonathan Hall, Mercedes Rose, Elijah Nelson, dir. Phil Bransom
Director: Phil Bransom Distributor: MTI Home Video
DVD release: 12 May 2009 Runtime: 94 min.
(1 disc)
Format: Aspect ratio 1.78:1, AC-3, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD features: Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround), Subtitles (Spanish), Bloopers, The Story Behind Train Master, Deleted scenes, Interactive menus, Scene selection, Trailers

The Western Railroad in the Pacific Northwest is a family rail company whose workers are big-time train enthusiasts as well as long-time, closeknit co-workers with a true love for their work. Jeremiah Wilson is one of Western Railroad's most valuable assets becaue of his incredible knowledge, passion and dedication both to trains and Western Railroad. In dedicating his life and love to trains, he is the true Train Master and the only man to turn to for any train or railroad-related issue big or small.

Brett Banner is the heir to the New York Eastern Railroad, and his only passion is for gaining more. Greed and delusions of grandeur motivate Banner in his unethical and malicious business dealings, but it is also the intense need to show his father up that propels him to purchase the Western Railroad. With his new acquisition now in his control, Banner chooses to make a big impact on the new railroad, its current employees, and the local Oregon area. Banner's knowledge of trains is limited, and his embarrassment provokes him to fire Jeremiah. Banner doesn't realize how much the company and its employees rely on Jeremiah and the peril into which he thrusts the entirety of the Western Railroad by his foolish actions.

Jeremiah's grandchildren are very close to him and feel the weight of his depression over the loss of his job. Trains and his family were his world, but with one half missing, everything seem to be swallowed in darkness. Thomas and Sarah decide to take their friends over to play with their grandfather's toy trains one afternoon, but after getting caught they decide the real things are much better. Unfortunately, the angry, lonely son of Brett Banner, Justin, has made it his hobby to follow Thomas around in hopes of finding something to blackmail him with. Justin gets just what he is looking for at the trainyards and orchestrates the next day a gathering of Thomas and Sarah, their friends and himself on one of Western Railroad's engines. Unexpectedly, the dare of moving the engine a few feet results in a high-speed runaway train with the children trapped on board. If Bret Banner and Jeremiah cannot work out their differences, the children may end up paying the ultimate price.

Train Master is a kid-oriented film with many good messages for both young and old alike. Some of the Oregon footage is beautiful and inspires the viewer to want to visit the area. The quality of the film as a whole is not overly fantastic, but it is adequate. Some of the sound issues are rather dominant; musical crescendoes play over dialogue. While this is nothing new in movies, the difficulty in actually hearing the dialogue at these moments is not a good thing. In addition, the only subtitles available are in Spanish, so the option of reading the dialogue at those hard-to-hear parts is not open to English-only viewers. Some of the film will probably be lost on children younger than six. While there are a lot of train scenes, the build-up to the runaway train is a long-winded and monotonous; focus is strongly on the adult issues, and young viewers may find their attention wandering. Overall, though, this film is a winner for train enthusiasts and children of elementary school age.
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reviewed by Sonia R. Polinsky
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