It’s been 5 years since we’ve had a puppet based action film, Team America: World Police. So now its Blighty’s turn to taken on the Yanks with Jackboots On Whitehall, a film having its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival this week.
Jackboots On Whitehall is the first film to use animatronics puppets; will this be a giant-step forward to puppet technology? Can the entire film be rested on plastic shoulders and faces? Can the film not resort to crass Nazi impersonation jokes? But most importantly, can this film be a stupid, fun ride? Lets find out…
- Writers/Directors: Edward & Rory McHenry
- Producers: Kyle Richards, Patrick Scoffin
- Cast: Ewan McGregor, Rosamund Pike, Richard E Grant, Timothy Spall, Tom Wilkinson and Alan Cumming.
Set in alternative universe of WWII, the Nazis have seized London, so England must band to form a resistance at Hadrian’s Wall if they are to prevent a full-on German invasion.
- The Sets: The landscape of the film is constructed with a certain amount of detail and panache that gives it an epic look. When the time comes, the pyrotechnics take over and they convincingly destroy all the beautiful scenery – Michael Bay would be proud.
- Richard E Grant: He’s brilliant as the abusive vicar and supplied us with the only source of much needed laughter during the entire film.
- The Rest Of The Voice Cast: They are universally dreadful, it sounds they aren’t even trying to make the best of the mediocre material. They’re just phoning in performances and should all be ashamed for being associated with this film.
- The Puppets: The reason why Team America’s puppets worked was because their puppets had animated faces, their eyes and mouths moved, they showed emotion. But here, the puppets have absolutely no facial movement what so ever and it’s like looking a brick wall of emotion, with no facial expression at all. It’s distracting from the film and keeps you from ever feeling involved with any of the characters. It’s made even worse, because of the extended close ups on the puppets; it constantly breaks your suspension of disbelief. The puppets in Robot Chicken are more convincing than anything shown in this film.
- Horrible/Unfunny Jokes: Jackboots On Whitehall tries to be relevant by making jokes about Mel Gibson, Braveheart and Lethal Weapon but they fall. The jokes lack any sort of punch or imagination and we’re degraded to the low end of the humour spectrum. The results leave you feeling depressed every time they try to make you laugh. As a Briton, you’re going to be embarrassed by what’s shown here; the “Carry-On” style comedy is cringe inducing.
- The Portrayals of the Nazis: Apparently, they’re all gay and like to wear women’s clothing… Once again the gag feels old, clichéd, and shows no form of sophistication. The pop-culture references are really weird; a Darth Vadar reference in a WWII film is the most misjudged pop culture references I have ever seen. It feels they ran out of ideas and so they stole old, used up ones.
- Lazy Narration: The filmmakers clearly didn’t think or even care about the narrative of the film. It’s on auto-pilot for the full 90 minutes which makes it the most un-interesting film of 2010.
This is the worst film of the festival so far. The pain hurts even more because the film has a great premise; but with juvenile jokes, lazy narration and rubbish puppets makes this a grisly cinematic experience.