Family Adventure Films

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Family Adventure Films

A heart warming tale of adventure and imagination, set sail and join the Walker and Blackett children on an epic adventure in the British countryside. SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS is an enchanting treat for the whole family, filled with whimsy for a bygone era of outdoor adventuring and make-believe play.

SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS carries a strong feeling of nostalgia, resembling the family adventure films of old such as The Wizard of Oz, The Railway Children and The Secret Garden, that captured our imaginations as children, before the days of superpowers and talking toys took over the big screen.

 To celebrate the release of the film on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Download from December 12th, courtesy of STUDIOCANAL, we take a look at some of the best family adventures to have hit the big screen.

Swallows and Amazons (2016)

Based on the novel by author Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons follows the adventures of the Walker children as they take a summer holiday to the Lake District where they venture out on a sailboat to an island in the centre of the nearby lake. Believing the island to be deserted, the Walker children quickly claim the island as their own, but soon realise a pair of sisters, Nancy and Peggy Blackett, have already laid claim to the island and will fight to defend their land. However, the children’s daring adventures soon veer from the imaginary world of pirates and play fighting into real world espionage when they begin to investigate the Blackett’s uncle, finding themselves in the middle of an international incident.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)

C.S. Lewis’ beloved series of fantasy novels have enraptured multiple generations of readers and movie-goers. The story follows the four Pevensie children – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy – as they evacuate World War II era London in favour of the safety of an English countryside manor. While playing a game of hide and seek, Lucy discovers a magical land hidden in the back of a dusty wardrobe in a spare room which they soon realise is filled with all kinds of strange and wonderful creatures, and the children are caught in an eternal winter and in desperate need of their help. The Pevensies find themselves swept into an epic battle between good and evil, fighting alongside the great lion Aslan in an attempt to defeat the White Witch, Jadis. This film delights both children and adults alike, both of whom will appreciate the still impressive CGI and effects that bring these magical creatures to life.

Hook (1991)

Peter Pan is the boy who never grew up, but what if he did? Hook tells the tale of Peter Pan, after Neverland.  Peter has left the timeless island of Neverland, become Peter Banning, married a woman named Moira, had two children, and grown into a modern man with a job as a merger and acquisitions lawyer. On a family trip to visit Granny Wendy in London, Peter’s forgotten past returns and he must rediscover his inner child in order to save his kidnapped children from his old enemy, Captain Hook. Of course, that is easier said than done. Upon returning to Neverland, Peter struggles to remember his past life and asks the Lost Boys to help him once again become Peter Pan. One of Robin William’s best known works, Hook is a delight for both younger and older generations alike, both of whom will enjoy the good fun of this tale of imagination and adventure.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

This classic tale based on the Frank L. Baum stories has grown to become a cultural icon. Originally released in 1939, and famous for its use of technicolour, The Wizard of Oz tells the story of Dorothy and her dog Toto as they get swept away to a magical land by a tornado, resulting in the now famous line “I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”. Dorothy must traverse this strange and foreign land in search of The Wizard in hopes that he can help her return home. Along the way she encounters a cowardly lion, a tin man, and a scarecrow who all help her prevail against the Wicked Witch of the West. A classic, fun-filled film for the ages, The Wizard of Oz enraptures adults and children alike.

The Railway Children (1970)

This World War II era film follows Roberta (“Bobbie”), Phyllis, and Peter Waterbury as they adjust to life in the countryside. After their father disappears following an argument with two strangers in his study, the Waterburys fall on hard times and move from their home in London to a cottage in Yorkshire. There the children begin to attempt to unravel the mystery of their father’s sudden disappearance. Meanwhile, they become fascinated with a nearby railway which they begin to visit, waving at the passengers as they go past. One passenger in particular, the Old Gentleman, becomes quintessential to solving the mystery of their missing father and eventually obtaining his release. The Railway Children is another classic film that will be a nostalgic watch for adults and a fun adventure for the little ones.

The Secret Garden (1993)

Based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s widely-read novel of the same name, this heart-warming tale follows a young British girl, raised in India, named Mary who returns to live on her uncle’s estate in England after the loss of her neglectful parents to an earthquake. She arrives in Yorkshire to find an equally distant uncle, still grieving the loss of his wife ten years earlier. Left to her own devices, Mary makes two important discoveries as she explores the estate: a hidden garden, once beloved by her late aunt, but locked up and abandoned after her death, and a bedridden cousin, Colin,  who has been told he must stay inside and hasn’t seen the sunlight for a long while. With the help of another young boy, Mary goes about restoring the garden and decides that her cousin must see it. Through her determined efforts, Mary manages to bring light back into a household that has been struggling to lift the weight of her uncle’s grief and, to her delight, becomes a wanted member of the family.

The Incredible Journey (1963)

Based on the novel by Sheila Burnford, this live action film follows three pets left behind with family friends as their owners leave for a holiday.  Missing their family, the animals decide to take matters into their own paws and embark on a journey home. Luath, a young Golden Retriever, Bodger, an elderly English Bull Terrier, and Tao a Siamese cat go on a perilous adventure that brings them into the path of wild bears, kindly hermits, and a hungry lynx. When their human’s realise that the animals are missing they launch a search mission but soon discover the animals are just 40 miles from their destination and may well be able to make it on their own.

The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002)

This animated adventure, based on the beloved Nickelodeon television series The Wild Thornberrys, follows twelve-year old Eliza Thornberry who is gifted with the ability to speak to and understand animals. While in Africa watching over a family of cheetahs, one of the cubs under Eliza’s care is stolen by poachers. Spurred into action by a dream message from Shaman Mnyambo, Eliza becomes determined to rescue the cub, despite the dangers, and runs away from her boarding school in England to return to Africa. Aided by her pet chimpanzee Darwin and younger brother Donnie, Eliza uses her ability to speak with animals to search for the poachers. However, when her sister is taken by the poachers, who threaten to kill her if Eliza doesn’t reveal how she discovered them, Eliza is forced to admit her abilities resulting in the loss of her powers.  Eliza must then figure out how to save the animals with her heart and her mind.

The Borrowers (1997)

This film shows that adventurers come in all shapes and sizes. When things start going missing, young Pete Lender begins to set traps around the house, to his parent’s amusement. He soon discovers a family of tiny people, the Borrowers, who share their home. When the Lenders discover that the will that dictates their ownership of the home has gone missing and that plans have been made to demolish the house, the Lenders and the Borrowers are forced to move. When two of the Borrowers fall out of the moving truck, they return to the old house intending to find the new one on a map and make their way there. Instead, they discover the missing will hidden in a safe. The Borrowers recover the will and embark on a mission to prevent the Lender’s nefarious lawyer, Ocious P. Potter, from demolishing the house for his own gain. These pint sized heroes big adventure will entertain the whole family.

SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS is available on Blu-ray, DVD & digital download from December 12th, 2016

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.


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