Movie Review – ‘Swallows and Amazons’

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

It’s amazing to find that there are British films available on Disney+, including ones released by StudioCanal. As well as the two ‘Paddington’ films, there’s ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ and there’s this 2016 film adaptation of ‘Swallows and Amazons’, which I’ve seen lately.

I didn’t know anything about ‘Swallows and Amazons’ when checking out the 2016 film on Disney+. I didn’t know it was based on a 1930 book of the same name by Arthur Ransome. I didn’t know there were two TV/film adaptations before this, including the 1963 six-part BBC TV series and a 1974 film.

From watching ‘Swallows and Amazons’, there does seem to be an Enid Blyton-atmosphere about it. This was especially from a group of children going to an island in the English countryside and having an adventure. I don’t know much about Arthur Ransome’s work as an author, but he sounds good. 🙂

Mind you, the 2016 film itself incorporates many changes to the plot in terms of the scripting stage compared to the book. I can’t judge the film accordingly without having read the book, but I can imagine certain changes made in how characters are developed and an artistic licence being utilised.

The film focuses on the Walker children who have a holiday in the Lake District in the summer of 1935. They want to camp on an island in the lake. When they get to the island in their boat called the Swallow, they discover they’re not alone. There are other children on the island called Amazons.

Well, in actual fact, they’re the Blackett children, but they call themselves ‘Amazons’. They’ve set up camp on the island and a battle for the island commences between the Swallows and the Amazons. Meanwhile, Britain is on the brink of war and a ‘secret agent’ is searching for the Blackett kids’ uncle.

Now here’s the thing. I would’ve enjoyed this film a lot more if some of the characters weren’t mean-spirited, especially between some adults and some children. Even the eldest Walker brother can be hard on his young brother and sisters. The Blackett kids’ uncle also seems to be quite nasty.

For one thing, the eldest Walker brother tries to give an important message to the Blackett kids’ uncle from someone, but he refuses to listen and wants him off his boat. If the message was important, surely the Blackett kids’ uncle should hear it. The eldest Walker should’ve been insistent!

In terms of the cast, there’s Rafe Spall as Jim Turner a.k.a. Captain Flint, who is the Blackett kids’ uncle. There’s also Andrew Scott (who you may recognise for being Moriarty in ‘Sherlock’) as Lazlow, the ‘secret agent’ looking for Jim Turner. Surely this was Andrew Scott as Moriarty in disguise here. 😀

There’s Kelly Macdonald as Mrs. Walker, the mother of the Walker children; Jessica Hynes (who I’ve seen in ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Pudsey the Dog: The Movie’ :D) as Mrs. Walker; and Henry Enfield as Mr. Jackson. These three characters appear mainly in the first half and reappear towards the second half.

The Walker children are Dane Hughes as John Walker, the eldest brother; the two sisters: Orla Hill as Susan Walker and Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen as Tatty Walker; and Bobby McCulloch as Roger Walker, the young brother. There’s also Seren Hawkes as Nancy and Hannah Jayne Thorp as Peggy. 🙂

They’re the Blackett children. The film’s cast also includes Fenella Woolgar (who I’ve seen in the ‘Doctor Who’ episode ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’ and she’s a regular in ‘Call the Midwife’) as Miss Crummock. As always, the casts in these period films deliver excellent performances throughout.

‘Swallows and Amazons’ is an enjoyable family film to check out on Disney+. I have issues regarding some of the characters and how they’re interpreted in the film. But getting past that and enjoying the adventure throughout the film, you’re likely to have a good time with this. I’m sure that you will.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂


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