The Railway Children Return 2022 Movie Review
Part of the negativity here is that some people seem to be reacting like it is blasphemy to make a sequel of sorts to a stone cold classic like the 1970 version is. Yes, its not one of those rare beasts (like Star Trek – The Wrath of Khan, Godfather II, or The Empire Strikes Back) that manages to pull of the impossible and be better than the classic film before it, but its not as terrible as some here would have you believe either. In fact if you can just forget for one second about the huge shadow Lionel Jeffries beloved 1970 film, this is actually quite a watchable and entertaining film. And to those who have been saying this film is ruined by woke politics….well I hate to break it to you but the basic background of black American G. I.s being given a particularly unjustified hard time by their own side during WWII is actually based on fact (look at the Jim Brown character in 1967s The Dirty Dozen to see the same type of thing). In fact I think this is a decent effort to tell a story about an injustice just as the original film did.
The cast are fine with Beau Gadson as Lily being a standout. Sheridan Smith turns in a good performance too as Annie, although Tom Courtenay seems like he’s been squeezed into the plot and Jenny Agutter seems to have not a lot to do (which is odd because she was the heart and soul of the original). The impact of war on the children is reasonably well dealt with too in a way that isn’t patronising for youngsters.
My only real grumble is a technical one. The overuse of edits and of hand held camerawork in the first half of the film was really annoying, especially as the original had a much more natural flow to the visuals which i’m surprised teh director here didn’t try and emulate. Also the colour palette is strangely muted here with greens and browns overwhelming the picture. Admittedly that may have been intentional considering that this is supposed to be wartime, but maybe that was intentional? I also found the language felt out of place. Lionel Jeffries would never let coarse words like ‘Fart’ into his script and it felt like unnecessary pandering to a young audience.
This is not a bad film. Actually it’s quite a decent one (even if it lacks an ending as powerful and tear-jerking as the original). A film about people for a family audience that offers the viewer something more traditional than yet another comic book adaptation or another CGI animation film. After seeing yet another soulless American multinational corporate feature film last week, to me it was nice to see this as it wasn’t trying to sell me a toy, a happy meal or hook me into a franchise. For that I was thankful. Sure, films with Minions have their place but its nice that there is a humanity to a film like this. However the film never quite escapes the massive shadow of it’s 52 year old forebearer (which people forget did have some cheesy moments). This film shouldn’t be criticised just because it exists, I am just acknowledging its flaws. We should be happy that this is at least something different as opposed to the filmmakers not being silly enough to attempt to remake the original.
To sum up then, this is an inferior if watchable sequel to one of the most beloved films ever to come out of the UK. It is not great but nor is it terrible, it’s just not going to be as memorable and celebrated 52 years after it was released (unlike the original which was lightning in a bottle).