Thursday, May 12, 2011

Burke And Hare

This is a true story. Except for the bits that aren't.

( Opening credits of Burke and Hare). the hell is it that a movie like this appears at my local theatre from out of no where?? It had absolutely no trailers or promotion what so ever which gave it me the impression of a recent production...but oh no, it was released in the UK in October of last year!!!!! Seven months ago!! It is a real bug bear with me when theatres promote movies that either never screen or just pop up out of no where as this did. I was looking forward to The Rite for example. It was promoted heavily and then never screened. I was bloody livid. The Adjustment Bureau suffered the same fate. I know the amount of movies Hollywood churns out is phenominal, but if you promote a movie then bloody well screen it!!!

 So Burke and Hare appeared out of no where for me. I wasn't pleased that it starred Simon Pegg as Paul has only finished its run to make way for it. I am never keen on the idea of movies with the same stars screening too close together. I feel we become too familiar with them as their roles become blurred in our minds. Why oh why this has cropped up now is beyond me and took me by surprise. I have never heard of it and neither have my compatriots it seems as only two people were there on opening night!! It goes to show what sheep people are. If a movie gets no promotion then the punters don't turn up. Even with Simon Pegg starring the people stayed away.

 It is almost pointless screening this without promotion. You would think after Paul theatres would try to cash in on Peggs name and promote this.....wouldn't you?? Something is obviously wrong with movie promotion in NZ, and judging from other comments I have read on blogosphere, around the world. If you read my post on Source Code you'll have read it only attracted three people on opening night, and that had no promotion either. What does that tell you??!

 So rant over I can look at the movie! Well it did appear out of no where as I had no inclination that it even existed. I haven't even seen a review on blogosphere. So where the hell has this movie been hiding?? In a cave? Or have I?? I knew nothing about it as I ventured down to the local cinema and just assumed it was a comedy because of Pegg. I hope one day he does some more serious roles instead of just playing a pillock. I have said this in past posts of Pegg outings to. He would play a chilling villain if given the right script. I liked Robin Williams as the villian in Insomnia because he too is like Pegg and plays (mainly) comedy roles.

 Interestingly wikipedia calls this a black comedy. I can't call it that at all. I love black comedy but this was far from black. There was cynicism or satire to speak of. It was in all intents and purposes a gentle comedy. It isn't meant to be a riotious laugh fest. I certainly chuckled alot and did laugh out loud at a few lines, but overall as a comedy it is a quiet sort of outing. I loved the start and the stirring bagpipes pumping out a stirring rendition of Scotland the Brave, and I almost pissed myself laughing at Pegg and Andy Serkis' Irish accents! God they were awful!! And what made me laugh is the further the movie went on the accents completely disappeared! Hah..take that movie maker as I do notice such things like that. You set up the characters as Irish and then don't carry it on through the entire movie as you think it won't be noticed that the actors have dropped the routine. Got ya!!!!

 I couldn't place Serkis at first. It niggled me until the penny dropped. How the hell could I ever forget he was Smeagel, and then Gollum!!! Well here his Irish accent wasn't so 'precious' I can tell you that right now!! Isla Fisher was just as tasty as ever! I cannot believe she is now 35! and by god she still looks good. I remember her as a fresh faced teen in the awfully abysmal Aussie soap Home and Away. Her career hasn't exactly taken off since then but she is a competent enough actress. 35? Nah...surely not! Actually this has got quite a stella cast when I think about it. Tom Wilkinson is always good value and puts in a strong performance. Tim curry appears, as does Bill Bailey is a small cameo. Jessica Hynes I mis-took for Miranda Richardson! She certainly lookes like her but Hynes is younger and I kept questioning myself. She gives a perfomance similar to Richardson in her more Queenie power moments in Blackadder.

 Ronnie Corbett puts in a showing too! I haven't seen him in anything for quite a while. He plays a little Hitler type as a militia man who takes his job, and postion, too seriously. He is damn good in the role too! Great to see him on screen again but he is sadly showing his age. I never really liked him as a stand alone actor but with Ronnie Barker he was brilliant. Have two comedians ever complimented each other as perfectly as those two did? Even now re-runs of The Two Ronnies are hilarious. Their humour just hasn't dated at all.

 So with a strong cast this promised much but some how it was all a bit bland. I almost expected to feel the same way as I did last week watching source Code after the brilliance of Charade. Source Code was shown to be the rubbish it was by Charade and I thought Burke and Hare would get the same treatment by Lawrence of Arabia. Surprisingly it didn't. Burke and Hare is a better movie than Source Code despite some shoddy CGI of olde 1828 Edinburgh, and don't mention those accents!! But somehow it missed the mark. Bland is the only word I can describe it as. I will give it credit for bringing to light in a comdey the actual activities of the real Burke, Hare...and Knox.

 I see IMDB has this with a 35% approval rating. I think that is fair as this doesn't set the world on fire. It isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, but somehow it just doesn't deliver. There are some good moments sprinkled throughout. I especially like the scene where Gervis and Hynes, as husband and wife, are shagging each other senseless in bed all the while talking about money and how to make more. They come up with the idea of funeral palours in the process. At one stage Gervis stopped his nupital activities and wifey asks him what the hell he stopped for and get on with it!! A good scene and quite humourous as they talk shop in the middle of a bit of quite energetic nooky!!

 Bland. Bland. Bland. For the quality of the cast somehow Burke and Hare lacks something. It is maybe too gentle on the comedy. It feels as if the writers weren't sure on how far they wanted to take the laughs. It is funny, but just not funny enough to really satisfy. As a supposed black comedy it isn't dark or brooding enough, and it lacks enough zing as a comedy. It is trying to cover both bases and hence covers neither. I enjoyed myself and think it better than last weeks Source Code, but it doesn't deliver enough to stand out. It is a movie I wouldn't care if I missed at the cinema and caught on DVD or TV instead. Final assessment? A movie that doesn't seem to know quite what it is trying to be, and a waste of a good cast in making a movie that really should have gone straight to DVD.

Click here for a synopsis and more:

And click here for information on the actual Burke and Hare murders:


  1. I don't really like the cast, and had never heard of this, so I will probably pass. Great review!

  2. We missed this one in the cinema as it clashed with something more important and quickly forgot about it!

    It didn't set the box office on fire over here.

    I am fussy about comedy films so this one is likely to remain unwatched until it appears on tv

  3. It is definitely one that is one to wait for on DVD/TV. It wasn't a good outing at all and if I'd missed it I wouldn't have cried! Surprisingy that it made it down under if it didn't do well in its native lands.