The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse Review
"This is a local shop, for local people... There's nothing for you here!"
Like many of the most successful British comedy collaborations, the League of Gentlemen began as a group of friends, whose quirky, unusual sense of humour has seen their performances rise from the Edinburgh festival to radio, TV and now the silver screen. The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse is their attempt to translate the hugely popular cult hit The League of Gentlemen, into a movie. As a fan of the first series, I admit that I'd found the latter series a little too dark for my tastes so I was interested to see whether this movie was a continuation from the third TV series or a way to attract new fans to their brand of comedy.
For those that are not familiar with the world of the League of Gentlemen, I will firstly say, I don't think you should be starting your introduction with this movie and I would suggest that you watch at least the first TV series before returning to this film. Although the movie doesn't chronologically follow on from the end of series three, the movie does assume the viewer is familiar with the world and the cast. If you do watch this movie uninitiated, you are likely to be either confused or disappointed (or both!). So, if you are still reading, you're probably a fan!
The plot of this movie is quite difficult to summarise in words as it is multi-threaded and intertwines back and forth, but in a nutshell the real League of Gentlemen (Dyson, Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearsmith) have decided not to take their characters any further and to stop writing about the goings-on in Royston Vasey. In Royston Vasey itself, some of the characters have found out about this disaster and the impending Apocalypse and have discovered a portal into the "real" world in an attempt to influence the writers to continue their work on the TV show (and hence keep the characters alive). The writers have instead begun work on a period historical horror because they want to work on something different. As you can imagine the various characters end up in different worlds and story lines, which in itself creates some funny moments.
The movie has high production values compared to most British comedies - there are some great special effects and decent cinematography, although the general look of the movie does err more on the side of a TV show than a traditional movie. The League of Gentlemen have gathered some very hardcore fans over the years and I have a feeling that the elements that have attracted those fans are the same elements that put off the casual viewer - mainly the blackest of black comedy and the cinematic references scattered throughout their work. I found this movie to suffer in this respect - in trying to broaden their appeal; they haven't gone all out to please their fans, so the movie isn't as dark as the TV show. Conversely, in my opinion, they've over-indulged themselves with their homage to other films and have flooded this movie with references to other works that can at time feel a bit contrived. Rather than adding to the story, sometimes it feels like they've worked out ways to get references in and fitted a scene to it rather than the other way around. Obviously, if this was one of the things you loved about the TV show, you'll be ecstatic here, but unless your tastes and knowledge of movies is similar to theirs, much of this will be wasted on you."Are you local?...." well after watching this, I guess I'm not. I don't want to be overly critical of this movie as I really like the League of Gentlemen and admire their individual comedic and acting talents, however this movie seemed like a rather jumbled, ultimately unsatisfying experience to me. I felt sympathy with the real League of Gentlemen actors who wanted to finish with Royston Vasey and move onto something new - this feeling pervaded this movie and after watching it, I felt the same way. It's hard to know what would have made this movie more enjoyable for me, but I guess my biggest complaint was just the lack of laughs. This may have been due to the choice of main characters or the sprawling nature of the story, but either way it didn't work for me. If the League do decide to revisit the movie format, I would suggest they either use their talents for something completely new and fresh or they truly embrace their dedicated fan base and give them what they want without trying to compromise for new viewers.