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cast: Tim Roth, Kelly Macdonald, Skye Bennett, Bill Milner, and John Simm

director: Annabel Jankel

99 minutes (PG) 2008
widescreen ratio 16:9
Universal DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by James A. Stewart
British filmmaking is arguably at an all time high just now. Over the last couple of decades there have been numerous successes, such as the re-invigoration of the James Bond franchise, the Harry Potter series, and Slumdog Millionaire to name but of a few of the more commercial winners. In fact, the mark of the progress in the UK industry is highlighted by the heart-warming children's tale that is Skellig.

Originally shown on Sky One in early 2009, Skellig is a made-for-TV adaptation of David Almond's cult book of the same name. In this polished and brilliantly-cast offering we have a film that could easily have made it to the big screen, but one that follows a very common British path of matinee TV slot then immediate DVD release.

In the lead role, Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction and, new to TV, Lie To Me) is a class act as Skellig. Roth is aided with an impressively hungry cast featuring John Simm (Life On Mars) and Kelly Macdonald, an actress thrust into the limelight in Trainspotting as raw talent but one who has blossomed into quite a decent player.

Skellig is a fantastic story in its own right and director Annabel Jankel does well to bring us a film packed with fantasy, intrigue and that most potent of ingredients, love. Adaptations of popular books are notoriously difficult, and it is true that this is not better than the book, but it is a darned good attempt.

Michael (Bill Milner) befriends Skellig after finding him hidden in a forbidden structure near his new home. His mother (Kelly McDonald) is caring for her new baby girl, and Bill agrees to keep Skellig a secret, until one day he introduces his feathered friend to his neighbour Mina (Skye Bennett). Then the fun begins, but who or what is Skellig?

It is a bit strange seeing Mr Orange with wings and playing an angel, but bizarrely, Tim Roth also bears a very striking resemblance to Manic Street Preachers' eccentric, and Hoover-loving, bass player, Nicky Wire. I had to do a double-take when he first appeared.

The production is well done, despite a TV budget, and this is testament to the points made earlier. Buying it on DVD seems a bit strange when it has just aired on television, but it is an excellent adaptation of a popular story, and one well worth watching.

Disc extras are flunky rather than funky with the ennui of a behind the scenes filler, cast interviews and a bizarre piece of sped up wardrobe application.

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