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The fictional world of Royston Vasey is facing apocalypse and the only way to avert disaster is for our nightmarish cast of characters to find a way into the real world and confront their creators. From present day Soho to the fictional film world of 17th Century Britain, the residents must overcome countless bizarre obstacles in their bid to return Royston Vasey to safety. Written by
I have to admit that when I first heard about the Apocalypse film it was a worry.
I mean, they have a lot to live up to, don't they? When they first did a stage show they won the Perrier award and when they did radio they won a Sony award. When they ventured onto our telly's they won a Bafta award, a Royal Television Society Award and the Golden Rose of Montreux.
When the first series aired in January 1999 it was mind-blowing! A real breath of fresh air in British Comedy, and when the second series aired a year later it built on that foundation and sealed the shows cult status around the world, our web stats show that we have received visitors from every single country on the planet! The 'Local show for Local People' showcased the Gents talent for live performance and opened doors for the gents to do more live performing such as 'Art' in the west end.
The fans favourite has always been the Christmas Special, less of a sketch show and more a tribute to classic horror films yet still wrapped up in the delicious League style.
And then of course there was the 'difficult' third series, still a hit with the loyal hardcore fans of course, but maybe a little bit ahead of its time for a mainstream TV audience.
As I say, a lot to live up to.
So now we have the film and...Well a film is different isn't it? It will be seen by much larger numbers than the radio or TV shows and with the third series in mind I was worried.
Well as you know I was lucky enough to get to see the film yesterday at a press screening in London and all my doubts were blown away (literally) in the first few minutes! I am not going to give plot lines away as some reviewers have done, nor am I going to tell you the catch phrases (although there is really only one) but I will try to tell you what they have managed to achieve with this film! Leaving the cinema on Monday night I could only imagine writing 'Oh my god, it's brilliant, its amazing, its the best thing they have ever done, better than the first, second and specials all rolled into one!' Of course I owe my visitors a much better explanation than that! So, why is it brilliant? This is a film for everyone, the casual fan, the obsessive fan the occasional fan and even for someone who is sat in the wrong cinema! You don't have to have watched the series to enjoy this film; it works on so many levels.
This film reminded me why I am a League of Gentlemen Fan! You can tell that filming was a true labour of love too; the attention to detail is incredible. The sets for the TV show were always detailed but I am going to have to watch the film again just to look at the background! The story moves at a swift pace, the action carrying us from Royston Vasey to the real world where we meet the 'Creators' who are of course the League themselves! Along the way we manage to bump into favourite characters from the show but always within the central story unlike the TV sketch show.
I was glad that the film was dark in places, a little scary and a little strange...only fitting for The League of Gentlemen. The Gents also managed to get their revenge on the BBC censors, not as much slipping in the word 'Mongoloid' as screaming it from the roof tops! Some may think the Gents portrayal of themselves a little indulgent but that's the joke and with that comes my only worry, the in jokes I mention below may puzzle some viewers and they might come over a little too clever...but I shouldn't worry, there is always a poo joke waiting just around the corner and speaking of jokes, they come thick and fast, and in a mixture of clever references, wig jokes, bum jokes, visual jokes and cock gags! I haven't laughed out loud in a cinema since...well, I can't remember! The fans that have been 'with' the League since the beginning are rewarded with loads of 'in' jokes, some that work on two levels, a mainstream audience may laugh at a reference to a compact disc for one reason whilst fans of the Local show will laugh for another reason altogether! The cameos are genius! Peter Kay and Simon Pegg form the strangest double act you have ever seen, Simon getting one of the films biggest laughs just by making a noise! I was a little worried about the 1690's aspect of the film when I first heard about it but as a story within a story I was just getting into it when...but that would be telling! All I need to say is that it fits wonderfully and adds to the overall feel of the film! I am not a professional reviewer of films, so I am finding it difficult to put into words how much I enjoyed this film but for now I will just say that if the supposed benchmark for British Comedy films in recent years was the excellent 'Shaun of the Dead' then I am sorry but a new benchmark has just been set by the inventive, hilarious and sometimes a little scary...The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse.
Jason Kenny 2005
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