The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse
February 2, 2006
Not to be confused or associated with that piece of crap film starring Sean Connery, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you can forget about superheroes. Think more along the lines of an evil butcher, a foul mouthed lesbian vicar, a camp German vampire and brother/sister shopkeepers that like to keep things local. They could all only reside in Royston Vasey and the twisted minds of four young chaps who go by the collective name of The League of Gentlemen. After appearing on the BBC for three series and a Christmas Special, the much loved, strange macabre TV show and characters have established a cult following and those fans need to forget everything they know about this weird little world. This is not the television anymore, this is real life; this is the movie.
It’s the end of the world and the apocalypse is nigh for the dwellers of Royston Vasey as The League of Gentlemen have decided not to write for these characters anymore. As a result, the fictional town begins destroying itself and an elite team of Royston Vasey characters mysteriously travel to the real world to confront their creators.
In an odd choice the action is moved out of Royston Vasey for most of the film and the most popular characters; Tubbs, Edward and Papa Lazourous have nothing more than cameos. For a brand new theatrical audience, stories have not been transferred from the TV series, Pauline and Mickey are not married, Hillary Briss has not fled to Jamaica etc… Not only does the League of Gentlemen write the show and movie but three out of the four League of Gentlemen also play all the bizarre characters. Due to this, the number of characters appearing in the movie is limited and only thrusts three to the foreground, Hillary Briss, Heir Lipp and Geoff Tipps. Not only are the majority of characters absent but something else is missing as well. The original, eccentrically dark comedy has been watered down to nothing more than primary school playground humour.
The script is a solid, postmodern vision that has swept through the horror genre that The League are known to be fond of, having the characters enter the real world and meet their creators is a stroke of genius. Setting it in the real London might not have been. Longtime fans will be truly amazed by certain scenes like when Heir Lipp played by Steve Pemberton, comes face to face with the real Steve Pemberton, played by Steve Pemberton. The computer wizardry involved in scenes like that is very good, and The League hasn’t completely sold out on fancy effects as they are still referring back to classics like The Shining and Jason and the Argonauts-type stop motion monsters. We are also introduced to a brand new world created by The League of Gentlemen, which they are working on, instead of Royston Vasey.
Turning popular TV shows into a movie is risky business and The League of Gentlemen might have gotten away with it – but only just. It has the grandeur and the high concept. The problem is taking these characters out of their home town, the diluted jokes and the suggestion of the end of well-loved characters and there’s not much left after that, leaving The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse milling around somewhere in between Bean and Guest House Paradiso.
A little disappointing when compared with the extras that were available on the TV show box sets. The commentary as expected in from all four members of the league. A little bit insightful but lacking in the humour that we have heard from them previously.
Deleted Scenes and outtakes are a waste of time and the making of… isn’t much better. But the five minutes on The Real Royston Vasey, which takes a look at the town of Hadfield, which doubles for Royston Vasey.