13 October 2010
The Eager Have Landed- JACKBOOTS ON WHITEHALL Review
In an alternate history where the Dunkirk landings were a colossal failure, the German invasion of Britain is imminent, led by the not-yet-exploded Hindenburg. A plucky farm boy called Chris leads the charge from a small village in Kent to Downing Street, where he helps rescue a belligerent Winston Churchill from the invaders. He and his rag-tag resistance decamp to Scotland, to fight against Hitler in the final battle for England.
It's not that the astounding art direction and production design are gimmicks, but that Edmund and Rory McHenry needed to give the script another polish before they settled into their directors' seats to visualise it. The favourable comparisons to Team America don't work because although Trey Parker and Matt Stone obviously had fun with the strictures of puppetry and they made a good-looking film, they're also writers first and foremost. This one plays out like a first draft, because in a second draft, the McHenries would surely have added more jokes.
I'll tell you exactly the point where the script broke me, because every other review is mentioning it as well. Somewhere in the last fifteen minutes, the stereotypical lampoon of the Scots leads the dialogue to Braveheart jokes. And more than that, a Mel Gibson joke. Part of that Mel Gibson joke actually made me facepalm. I didn't even facepalm when I saw Takers. It's an easy pot-shot at an actor that isn't exactly current, and has no real place in a film set around World War II. To be blunt, it's like a joke from "2 of the 6 writers of Scary Movie"- repent of your sins before my Vampires Suck review comes online next week...
The filmmakers' enthusiasm works both for and against Jackboots on Whitehall. It carries a torch for the cinematic pleasures of Michael Caine portraying a Nazi or Clint Eastwood raiding a German castle, and recreates that era rather nicely with some seriously impressive toy-based art direction. The ambition is there, it's just a shame that the laughs aren't. Once again, the script desperately needed work, in my opinion- it should be seated next to Blackadder, not precariously close to that red-headed stepchild of wartime satire, Churchill: The Hollywood Years. It looks and sounds great, but very sadly, it's a disappointment.
Jackboots on Whitehall is now playing in selected cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Jackboots on Whitehall, why not share your comments below? I now need to catch up with that other toy movie, A Town Called Panic. I wasn't looking forward to that one as much, but hopefully a more pleasant surprise awaits.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.