Burke and Hare (15)
Starring: Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis
Friday 29 October 2010
The story of Burke and Hare, the murderous pair who provided cadavers for the pioneering surgeon Dr Knox in Edinburgh in the 1820s, has been filmed before, notably in The Body Snatcher in 1945, a Val Lewton horror starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.
This new version is the first time it has been told as a comedy, and if the presence of John Landis as director is a worry, the track record of writers Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft (St Trinian's 2, Goal! 3) should have you cowering in your seat for all the wrong reasons. Simon Pegg (Burke) and Andy Serkis (Hare) at least provide a sliver of amiability as the infamous Irish labourers who realise that the supply of corpses to Dr Knox (Tom Wilkinson) could be profitably accelerated. The streets of Edinburgh furnish a properly sinister backdrop to this macabre business, but the film-makers haven't a clue how to make it work as comedy. Instead of writing some good jokes they pack out the cast with celebrity cameos – Michael Winner, Christopher Lee, Stephen Merchant – and hope that Ronnie Corbett as the militia captain hot on the murderers' tail will make up the shortfall (ahem) of laughs. It recalls another Scots-based comedy of a few years ago, Plunkett & Macleane, which also lacked any sense of purpose or wit yet kept ploughing on regardless. In the end, Burke turned King's evidence and consigned Hare to the gallows. This film too dies a death, just not quite as abrupt as that one.
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 'Isis' schoolgirls: Missing British teenager tweets picture of her Syrian takeaway
Poldark, series 1 finale, review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 3, review: Sansa and manhood-lopping torturer Ramsay Bolton - really?
The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove