Haunted Mansion Review

 Ready for a little spookiness in August? I'll be honest the desire to throw on a jumper, buy pumpkins and embrace all things spooky has hit me early this year, mainly due to the depressing summer weather here in the UK. But something still feels slightly off about releasing a ghost movie in the middle of summer but that is exactly what Disney have done with Haunted Mansion. Haunted Mansion is the second film of its name release by Disney, The Haunted Mansion (Rob Minkoff, 2003) was my go-to childhood scary movie, although there is no link between the two films. It is also the second film to be based on a Disney ride, the first being the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. The ride features at five Disney Parks, under three names: The Haunted Mansion, Phantom Manor and Mystic Manor, and the film makes numerous nods to the dark ride. So, join me foolish mortals on a journey to the Haunted Mansion.  Haunted Mansion's opening act is perfect, scary and full of mystery. As we open

The Railway Children Return Review

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a screening of the upcoming film The Railway Children Return, directed by Morgan Matthews. The Railway Children Return is a sequel to the beloved 1970 film The Railway Children (Directed by Lionel Jeffries). I am never quite sure what to expect of sequels that release 10 even 15 years after the original, but this sequel comes after 52 years. Considering the differences in cinema and society this is a bold move, a bold move that has resulted in a heart-warming, nostalgic film that will captivate and lift the spirits of a twenty-first century audience. The Railway Children Return is a beautiful piece of British cinema, that stays faithful to its 1970 predecessor. 

Whilst the narrative takes place during World War Two, the main focus is not upon the war but rather the impact on children whom were evacuated from industrial cities to the quiet countryside. Although the experience of siblings Lily (Beau Gadsdon), Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and Ted (Zac Cudby) in the country is far from quiet. Upon arrival the siblings along with other children are inspected and chosen by residents. Bobbie (Jenny Agutter), who herself came to the village as a child in the original film, along with her daughter Annie (Sheridan Smith) take in the siblings. From there the adventure begins and the siblings along with Annie's son Thomas (Austin Haynes) find themselves wound up in their own war mission. Whilst playing at a secret hideout on the railway tracks, they discover Abe (KJ Aikens) a young injured American soldier who requires their help. The narrative is compact with a few twists thrown in, issues such as the war, race, class and even age are navigated throughout. If you are looking for an explosive narrative, with non-stop action then this is not the film for you, but if you are looking for the inner warmth and triumph of a period drama then The Railway Children is perfect. Trust me, there are so many hugs throughout this film, you'll find yourself desperate for a hug by the time you leave the cinema. 

Even though this is a war film, we are not on the frontlines which allows for the creation of a fun adventure vibe throughout. It offers us a look into the smaller war efforts, such as the children being taken to safety which allowed their mother to work as a nurse, and the efforts of train station master Richard (John Bradley) as he intercepts radio messages. Wider we have the people of the village who take in children, having to feed and care for them and the pressure on the school where Annie is headteacher, to educate the increased number of children. With Lily, Pattie, Ted and Thomas we see how eager the young generation where to play their part and help the war effort, Abe the perfect example of a child wanting to fight for his family - no matter what. An empowering impact will be had on child viewers, as they see the power they have to change things just at the children do in the film. 

British heritage films always tend to purport a sense of sanitised Britishness and The Railway Children Return is no exception. Location plays a key role throughout, as the children are transported from a smogy bombed Manchester to the postcard perfect countryside of Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in West Yorkshire. The film is diligent in its recreation of the 1940s, with costumes, sets and props all helping to create a realistic depiction of history, transporting audiences to a different era. This faithful recreation of the 1940s, combined with brilliant performances from the cast create a believable film, that utilises history to create such a compelling story. 

Overall, The Railway Children Return is a brilliant sequel to its 1970 predecessor. This new story will leave a lasting impression and smile upon audiences of all ages. A heart-warming instant classic, a brilliant example of British heritage cinema.