Swallows and Amazon – Review

We built our childhoods on adventure stories. As the Pevensies enter the world of Narnia through the illicit wardrobe, and the Famous Five traipsed along the British seaside looking to unravel mysteries. The Railway Children stopped complete catastrophe, whilst Mary Lennox discovered a whole Secret Garden. Adventure, especially set in bygone eras, imbue us with nostalgia and wonder, even as adults. We’re reminded of the times we too took to the forest surrounding our homes and found wondrous worlds of fantasy in dens or spent days trying to escape inside the magic of our imagination.

These glory days have been portrayed brilliantly on the big screen and continue to do so in brand new release Swallows and Amazons which has the beating heart of adventure rippling throughout…

Based on a series of books by Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons revolves around the Walkers; a family of five – a mother and four children – who look to escape to the countryside. Finding an island, they soon claim it as their own, having bouts of adventures until they meet an opposing family,, the Blacketts and a battle for the island pursues. However, when all islanders are thrust into the core of an adult mystery involving the Blackett’s Uncle Jim and soon their adventures become imbued with danger…

Swallows and Amazons is a jolly good outing for families who are sick of the colourful creature led animated monsters. The old-fashioned sentiments of yesteryear balanced with the wonder of the English countryside enthuses this spirited flick with genuine joy and wistful nostalgia. As the Walkers and the Blacketts jaunt along the rolling greenery pretending to be Indians or Pirates, the fanciful sense of childhood and wonder will ebb through you like the rivers of the Lake District. It’s a glorious depiction of summer holidays and family adventures whilst an underlying a more dangerous plot that the children have to solve allows the themes of loyalty and adulthood to splice their great outings.

Performances are grand too. Though there are few sketchy performances from the young ones, together they accomplish this loving and kind family and friendship group that you genuinely care about when their gallivants go a bit squiffy. The adult performers do fine at established an authority circle including the sweet and severely underrated Kelly MacDonald, the delightful Harry Enfield, and the always excellent Andrew Scott. But as Uncle Jim, Rafe Spall proves yet again he should be in everything. Mysterious, stern, but with nugget of caring, the embellished character from Ransome’s novels is a fantastic conduit for the unravelling thrills.

Granted, Swallows and Amazons is a bit twee and the cutesy elements of the film seem out of place against this era of superheroes punching other superheroes and super serious reboots. Plus, there are moments of pause that dwindle your attention somewhat. That being said in this climate of hyper-active  children’s movies and the constantly churning cinematic world that seems to focus more and more on broodier blockbusters, Swallows and Amazons deserves to be on the giant screen. If anything, it will curl in your stomach as you are awash with memories of family gatherings around a Sunday television. The warm-hearted film is a comforting alternative this weekend.


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