Film Reviews by Bob

Welcome to Bob's film reviews page. Bob has written 3 reviews and rated 138 films.

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Railway Children

A "re-make" as good as the original

(Edit) 23/10/2017

It can be a severe disappointment to watch a "re-make" of a much loved film only to find that it is a pale shadow of the original. (Sometimes the re-make can be a travesty, such as the recent version of "Swallows and Amazons" which made the classic mistake of believing that they had to 'improve' Arthur Ransome's original , and perfect, story.)

This version of the immortal "Railway Children" story is as true to the book as was the original and had the double benefit of including Jenny Agutter; who played Bobbie in the original and plays the mother in this, and an incredible sensitive portrayal of the young lead "Bobbie" by the amazing Jemima Rooper. Suitably supported by an excellent cast and filmed in a perfect setting this is a fresh, enriching telling of an old favourite. I've watch both versions several times and neither pale on repetition. Bob Hambleton

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Sunshine on Leith

A Good Solid Story enhanced by wonderful interpretation of some great music.

(Edit) 06/02/2017

A good, gritty story well told. As a previous reviewer has said, the Proclaimers songs fit the story line perfectly and that they do; or should the praise go to the writer(s) who crafted the story to fit the musical material available?

The stark beginning, set in Afghanistan, sets the scene for the quality of what is to follow. The musical ending, when we finally get to here "500 Miles" is a wonderful 'Bollywood' style climax and none the worse for that. The your finger off the fast forward button and enjoy some goo, solid entertainment.

Thoroughly enjoyed this film, viewed on rental, so much so that I think I'll add it to my own collection (if there is any space left on the shelves.)

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Swallows and Amazons

What shame and a Travesty A missed opportunity.

(Edit) 20/12/2016

I was looking forward to settling down to watch the new “Swallows and Amazon” film in great expectation but, sadly, it was a great disappointment. Why, oh why did they feel the need to update and change the story? “The Arthur Ransome book “Swallows and Amazon” is a much-loved classic, a complete and cohesive story that doesn’t need embellishment or updating. It is a period piece and all the better for that; updating it to a ‘cold war’ setting was unnecessary and destroyed much of the charm of the original and just got in the way of the real story.

The film does pay some ‘lip service’ to the original book, such as the references to ‘grog’ and ‘pemmican’ but being dropped in, out of context they became an inane distraction. The island setting was a good representation of the book’s Wild Cat Island but there were some glaring errors. The ‘hidden harbour’ should have been a small, hidden, rocky inlet surrounded by trees, not just a few rocks stuck upright on a straight bit of shoreline. The significance of the harbour was blurred over and lost in the up-dated plot.

The cast worked manfully at their parts but the ‘miscasting’ of the two younger Walker children, played by actors a year or two too young, made a mockery of some key aspects of the (original) story. I still don’t understand why they changed the name of ‘Titty’ Walker to ‘Tatty;’ it added nothing and detracted from the character’s believability.

Swallows and Amazons is a wonderful story that didn’t need any changes or ‘up-dating.’ Moving it to the cold war period (1950’s?) destroyed the original plot line and added nothing except shoe-horning a hyped-up attempt to insert some unnecessary and distracting drama. The film should have been made with a camera in one hand and Arthur Ransome’s book in the other not a camera and a misguided desire to ‘enhance’ a perfect story.

True fans of Arthur Ransome should not bother with this version but get the wonderful 1974 version which is a true reflection of Ransome’s genius.

The 2016 film is a disappointment not to say a travesty, What a shame and what a missed opportunity!

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