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Jackboots on Whitehall

Film Five Stars
I was hopeful of this film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival when I first heard about it, after all a story about the Nazi's invading England, Churchill and the resistance pulling back to Scotland to mount their counter offensive all made with stop-motion and action man type figures had to be good however bad the film ended up being. Then there was the excellent cast to think about, Ewan McGregor, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, Timothy Spall, Tom Wilkinson, Alan Cumming, Dominic West, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Richard Griffiths, Richard O'Brien, Pam Ferris, and Alexander Armstrong.

With all that going for it there was just no way I could say no to seeing this film, and the EIFF Jury couldn't either as this was a film under consideration for one of the big awards. Not only did I like it, and can highly recommend it, but I looked down a number of times and saw Patrick Stewart and Britt Eckland laughing away at some scenes, as was the audience full of press, and that's something in itself.

Jackboots on Whitehall is a fantastic film that's well worth getting in to see at any opportunity. A British film that doesn't rely on romantic comedy or horror, and it's damn funny.

Plot.pngWith Jackboots on Whitehall, unsurprisingly, we go back in time to World War II when Nazi Germany was attempting to take over Europe. British forces have been pushed back to Dunkirk and unlike our history Britain has been unable to evacuate them leaving the island in severe danger from invasion. That's just what the Nazi forces are thinking as they plan to tunnel underneath the channel and drive their forces into the heart of London to take over the government in one quick move.

When the invasion begins the few British forces are easily defeated and it's not long before England is overrun. As the remaining soldiers rally round Winston Churchill to save him, options are limited.

Out in the countryside of England a farmer gees up his fellow villagers to take arms and head to London to begin the resistance. Once there they meet up with the Prime Minister and his small band of soldiers, they head for safety from overrun London and cross Hadrian's Wall, in place and uncrossed for all this time, and the unknowns of Scotland.

There they prepare to make their last stand as the Nazi forces gather on the hills ready to attack the wall, the British forces stand behind it, on the Scottish side.

This is where the farmer has a chance to make something of himself. For most of his life he has felt worthless and underused due to his "big hands". From lore of old there are tales of unbeatable savage forces who have slaughtered everyone who ventured north, and he is sent out to find them.

TheFilm.pngJackboots on Whitehall is good fun from the opening scene. There are giggles and sniggers for the first half, but the real hilarity kicks in as the story turns to Scotland. Come this second half I was laughing out loud and having a great time, in fact I can't remember when the last time was that I'd laughed with a film this much. Indeed at some points there were genuine tears of laughter.

The film has a wonderfully written script that builds the characters and their relationships well, pretty soon you'll be believing that they're real. Come the second half the pace is picked up and it does a great job of delivering drama and laughs in equal measure. Indeed you might find yourself cheering some of the characters and some of the scenes, I know that come the ending I certainly was.

There are some incredibly clever moments to the script, with some great references to other films from the sublime and subtle to the out and out screaming out loud reference that will have most people, especially Scottish people, wetting their pants.

There are some strong comments from characters early on that might make you wince a little, but you'll still be smiling or giggling at them, something which I think is incredibly difficult to do. Some jokes with, and some against, the different nationalities in the film, those from the Scottish to the Indians, and from the Nazi's to the English, and all written with great humour at the fore. There's definitely no fear for poking fun at anything, and as it does there's never a feeling that it's going too far.

A huge amount of imagination has gone into this story and the creation of this slightly alternate world and it all works really well, easily capturing your imagination. Add to that the great work at bringing a real cinematic look to the film with plenty of the expected scenes and shots from a big budget film, just recreated with the action men figures and a few interesting twists, and Jackboots in Whitehall turns out to be a superb film.

Oh, one thing I have to give particular credit too is the whole plot line about the big hands. It starts off feeling like a little joke reference and just builds and builds, delivering beautifully.

The voice casting is superb, really well chosen, although I would have liked to have seen Ewan McGregor playing a Scotsman, he does a great job as the English farmer with the big hands. However for me it was the mad vicar that was the best character, beating out the German high command who are hilarious in their own right.

I did think that the film would look poor, I mean stop-motion action men doesn't sound the best does it? However they've managed to find a great style for the film and the characters do manage to match the emotions and feelings of the voices.

I do hope that this film gets a general release, for it is funnier and more enjoyable than most Hollywood comedies I've seen for some time, plus it's British and something we should be shouting about.

Overall.pngJackboots on Whitehall is a superb film that is filled with ingenuity and some hilarious moments. To define it as a British Team America: World Police is slightly demeaning, there's a lot more intelligent humour delivered through some wonderfully imagined moments. The sniggers soon turn to laughter and the film just keeps piling on the comic moments.

It also looks great, and a lot of the enjoyment and fun comes from the styling of the film and the figures. However the real power of the film is in the clever and hilarious scripting that often skirts with the controversial and Carry On but never goes too far in either, and avoids reverting to that atypical British comedy.

I'd recommend the film which shows some great film-making talent from Edward and Rory McHenry, particularly in the scriptwriting and some highly imaginative ideas. Exciting and hilarious, Jackboots on Whitehall is an excellent flim and highly recommended.




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