Complete A-Z list

Swallows and Amazons


Stars: Dane Hughes, Orla Hill, Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen, Bobby McCulloch, Kelly Macdonald, Andrew Scott, Rafe Spall, Dan Skinner, Harry Enfield, Fenella Woolgar, Seren Hawkes, Hannah Jayne Thorp

Director: Philippa Lowthorpe

I'm not sure that today's youngsters, fed a diet of X-Men and Avengers movies, are quite ready for another version of Arthur Ransome's children's classic about sailboat derring-do in the Lake District of the mid 1930s.

Lyricism is the keynote here, both in the cinematography and music, but fortunately the makers have inserted an original subplot, about a British spy (Spall) pursued by two Russian agents (Scott, Skinner) over photographs he's taken of their country's armaments buildup, which does something to bolster the more familiar story of the four Walker children setting sail for Wildcat Island in their borrowed boat Swallow.

They soon lose the hamper of food provided by their mother (a sympathetic Macdonald), though what even novice mariners are doing keeping their supplies near the edge of the boat is something of a mystery. Later they're confronted by the Amazons, alias the arrow-wielding Blackett sisters, who also lay claim to the island.

The film remains modestly enjoyable throughout, but is not helped by the very variable acting of its junior cast. The two squirts who play Roger and Tatty (really the central character) are quite good, but the acting of the older children, especially the girls playing the Blacketts, leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Sensitive junior schoolers will enjoy this clean, spirited adventure, but the majority of today's toughies may demand faster and more furious fare.

David Quinlan

UK 2016. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour (unspecified).
97 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 13 Aug 2016