When Animation Meets World War II
With a top notch cast consisting of stars such as Ewan McGregor, Richard E. Grant, Timothy Spall, Alan Cumming, Tom Wilkinson and Dominic West, it’s fair to say there isn’t an animated film out there that has a better group of actors associated with it than “Jackboots on Whitehall.”
However, in spite of an amazing cast, the slapstick comedy and bizarre story is far from a home run. While there are some definite moments of legitimate humor and pop culture odes, it’s not enough to make it a laugh out loud adventure.
The biggest problem in “Jackboots on Whitehall” is it never fully develops any of its characters to the point that you can get truly attached to them. While Chris (McGregor) and his overtly large hands [Apparently, it’s a sign of being Scottish and having large reproductive organs] is the main character of the tale, it’s easier to appreciate the antics of West’s character, Billy, a wiseass American Air Force pilot or the drunken Vicar, who calls Chris a bastard nearly every time he speaks to him.
In the end, the lack of a character that is truly hilarious or compelling hurts the story the most.
What else hurts the film is that the plot jumps around and introduces far too many characters in too short a time. Right around the point of the climax, there’s also a major plot shift and the introduction of a character that changes everything. While it’s one of the most enjoyable moments of the film, it continues to make “Jackboots on Whitehall” somewhat disjointed and frenetic.
At other times, the film just plain drags. You’ll wait for action [which when it comes, is incredibly solid and amusing] and get stuck with chatter and story development that doesn’t advance the plot. As a result, it’s hard to watch the film in one sitting.
The animation is also a concern. While the live action segments are fantastic with a Michael Bay-esque level of explosions and action, the animation when the characters speak isn’t nearly as solid. Sometimes, it’s plain impossible to know if a character is speaking or not.
Nevertheless, it’s truly awe-inspiring to see these puppets involved in huge battle scenes. Fans of this style of animation [think a better-looking version of “Team America: World Police,” minus the strings] will appreciate its attempt to create something wholly original and spectacular, but overall, there’s just not enough comedy and polish to make this film truly special.
It may be one of a kind in many ways, but in the end, “Jackboots on Whitehall” is mediocre at best.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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