The Pilgrim’s Progress review – tiring trudge to the Celestial City

The Guardian Entertainment 0 month ago

Pity the poor year-nine students who henceforth will be plonked in front of this plodding, sanctimonious animation of John Bunyan’s 1678 religious allegory as “a treat” in RE class. The film’s animation is reminiscent of an aircraft safety video, with characters moving stiffly while delivering the dialogue in awkward, am-dram style.

It begins promisingly in the City of Destruction, a vividly animated inferno where citizens toil at backbreaking work. After one of them goes missing, leaving behind a house full of visionary sketches and a book about the Celestial City, Christian Pilgrim (voiced by Ben Price) follows him into the unknown, abandoning his family. First stop on his journey is the Swamp of Despair. At Vanity Fair he must resist the temptations of the flesh – painted ladies, cakes galore – while at points along the road he is visited by the kindly Evangelist, who looks like Jesus with a Kate Middleton blow dry.

If not much else, The Pilgrim’s Progress has got some cracking, genuinely nightmare-inducing demons. Christian goes sword to sword with the devil’s henchman, a winged creature with horns and the pecs of champion bodybuilder.

Less interesting is the characterisation of the female giant Diffidence as a battle-axe wife – the kind of pinny-wearing, rolling-pin wielding stereotype that belongs in the 17th century. It also doesn’t help that there is also virtually zero humour, though I did have to suppress a giggle at the road sign for “Passion Passage”.

The Pilgrim’s Progress is released in the UK on 25 October.

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