After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel gets an all-new movie version. Shot in beautiful northern English settings with a lively cast, there's plenty of potential for it to become a classic in its own right. But screenwriter Andrea Gibb has tinkered with the plot, adding in a spy thriller plotline. And director Philippa Lowthorpe fails to muster up the suspense needed to make that work.
It's set in the summer of 1935, as Mrs Walker (Kelly Macdonald) takes her five adventurous children on holiday to the Lake District while her husband is working at sea. Staying with friends (Harry Enfield and Jessica Hynes), the four older children (teens Dane Hughes and Orla Hill and pre-teens Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen and Bobby McCulloch) borrow the sailboat Swallow and head off to make camp on an island in the lake. There they imagine a series of high adventures involving two local girls (Hannah Jayne Thorp and Seren Hawkes), who are playing as pirates in their boat Amazon. They imagine the girls' uncle (Rafe Spall) as the villainous Captain Flint, unaware that he's actually a double agent being chased by a pair of truly villainous Russian spies (Andrew Scott and Dan Skinner).
As the film goes along, this espionage subplot takes over, which might not have been a bad thing if the writer and director had been able to generate some proper thrills. But while these scenes are nicely played by the cast, the action beats have absolutely no tension to them. They feel only partially shot and then frantically edited together, leaving key moments muddled. The more experienced actors manage to inject plenty of humour, emotion and edginess to their scenes (Spall and Scott are particularly good, as always), but the children seem to have been given very little direction, never quite nailing their characters. Although youngsters Malleson-Allen and McCulloch manage to engage the audience with their cute, plucky personalities.
Continue reading: Swallows And Amazons Review
The first book in Arthur Ransome's much loved book series has been turned into a movie. The story follows a group of children who holiday with their family in the Lake District. Once the children arrive they immediately start to explore and their mother, Mrs. Walker, couldn't be happier that her children get the chance to act like real kids out of the city which is a possible target in a country on the brink of war.
When Mr Jones agrees to let the kids take out his sailing boat called Swallow, they're quick to explore the lake and ask their mother if they can go on an overnight camping trip to the small island in the middle of the lake which they aptly adopt as their own and name it Walker Island. As the children walk further from their base, they soon discover that they might not be the only ones on the island. They're soon approached by two girls who call themselves The Amazons, they say the island is theirs and tell the Walker children to return home on Swallow, their boat.
The two sets of children start a rivalry but as time passes, events unfold which mean the children must work together to uncover the disappearance of one of the islanders most mysterious inhabitants.
The end of GCSE exams is approaching and, while many students around the country will be preparing for a messy weekend in Magaluf, it's a guarantee that none of their antics will match those of Mr. Wickers and his troublemaking class. He's always been a terrible teacher, but for Alfie Wickers, a true adventure is needed to seal his unbreakable bond with his tearaway pupils - and so it's off to Cornwall they go, to the chagrin of the kids' worried mothers. It might seem like an innocent school trip, but they're forced to prepare themselves for some unexpected incidents involving seriously menacing farmer locals, as well as Alfie's ruthless old school chums. It gets even worse when the group go missing, and wind up wanted by police and all over the news. But it still could go down as the best school trip ever.
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After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...
The first book in Arthur Ransome's much loved book series has been turned into a...