In the past decade or so in cinema, cinema audiences have craved the old made new. Reboots, remakes, reimagining’s, you name it anything with “re” before a word has become the norm, somewhat stifling the industry and the creative who dwell within it. That isn’t to say that there aren’t some gems slowly rolling in on the seamlessly endless conveyor belt of franchises and so forth – this writer’s excitement at the Spider-Man 3 multiverse of, well, madness is practically overwhelming.
Come Away, released this week, is smaller is scale, scope and marquee-awareness but after a few failed attempts to reinvigorate some of the most famous fairy tales, deserves much kudos for trying something different if, ultimately, it doesn’t quite come off as planned. Delving into the legendary tales of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, this is more Hook than Tim Burton’s lacklustre (but massively successful) Disney remake, positioning Alice (Keira Chansa) and Peter (Jordan A. Nash) as siblings. After the tragedy of losing their brother David (Reeves Yates), they try to escape their pains with both a trip to London to try to raise some money for their parents (Angelina Jolie and David Oyelowo) and their first dives into the respective magical lands where their characters famously spend a lot of time.
The brainchild of writer Marissa Kate Goodwill, Come Away‘s heart and imagination are in the right place, bringing the same sense of wonder, excitement and kaleidoscopic mystery of the original books. It is perfect fodder for a younger audience that will lap up its magic and escapism, with director Brenda Chapman bringing the same va-va-voom she did in The Prince of Egypt and Brave in her various capacities.
However, with its heavy subject matters and the somewhat gloomy narrative storm that surrounds it, any such flights of fancy soon get overpowered – it certainly has a pure emotional core, but its muddy waters are hard to break free of no matter the delights above. Jolie and Oyelowo, as ever, bring their weight to proceedings, helping in part to give the film its solid if unsuccessful centre, while the trio of performances from its young leads are effervescent and alive.
It ‘s something of a missed opportunity when all is said and done despite some really lovely moments and its aim to be something unique amongst so much uninspired offerings, Come Away is a curious endeavour: when it’s good, it’s infectious and joyful but bogged down by its heavy-handed treatment of its subject matter, it doesn’t quite find its flight.
Drama, Adventure | UK, 2020 | PG | Cinema, Digital HD | 18th December 2020 (UK) | Signature Entertainment | Dir.Brenda Chapman | David Oyelowo, Angelina Jolie, Keira Chansa, Reeves Yates, Michael Caine,