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The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse (15)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of. The Real Royston Vasey. A Cast of Thousands. A Gentleman's Diary by Steve Pemberton. Deleted scenes. Out-takes. Gallery. Trailers. Commentary. Regions 2/4.

TELEVISION fans of The League of Gentlemen will find much to enjoy in the big screen version of the cult series, yet others may find some of the jokes a little too self-referential and, well, 'local'.

As difficult as the film is to fully appreciate for those who don't follow the show, it does, however, transfer to the cinema successfully, thereby avoiding the pitfalls of previous attempts such as Ali G Inda House and Kevin & Perry Go Large.

What's more, it contains plenty of film in-jokes, references and cameos for movie buffs to pick up on, even if it tends to rely on bodily function gags a little too often.

For those (like me) who have not watched the series, The League of Gentlemen is set in Royston Vasey, a town populated by repulsive characters.

The film picks up as Armageddon begins to reign down on Royston Vasey, prompting several of the characters to realise that their creators may be about to kill them off.

Resolving to prevent the unthinkable, three of the principal characters - mad butcher, Hilary Briss (Mark Gatiss), aloof German, Herr Lipp (Steve Pemberton) and no-hoper Geoff (Reece Shearsmith) - escape into the real world with the intention of kidnapping the actors who play them.

Hence, the real-life Pemberton, Shearsmith and Gatiss meet their fictional characters and are subsequently 'persuaded' to put a halt to their plans to wind up the series.

To complicate matters still further, however, the writing trio have already started to create their new project, a 17th Century spoof called The King's Evil, whose characters also become involved in the struggle to save Royston Vasey (albeit unwittingly).

The ensuing madcap adventure contains nods to films as diverse as The Truman Show, Misery, The Witchfinder General and Monty Python, while also remaining true to the dark tone of the television series in general.

It even contains cameos from the likes of Simon Pegg and David Warner, not to mention finding numerous ways to reference or include some of the series' best-loved characters.

That said, the film is by no means as clever or as funny as it thinks it is and some of the jokes and parodies become a little too smug for their own good.

Die-hard fans of the show are also certain to lament some of the characters who are missing, while newcomers will either love or loathe the offbeat tone of the humour.

Fortunately, the film doesn't outstay its welcome (clocking in at a tidy 90 minutes) and even boasts some impressive set pieces (including some fantastic CGI creations) which enliven proceedings whenever they threaten to drag.

And in certain story arcs, such as Herr Lipp's attempts to blend in to the real-life home of Steve Pemberton, it also has some genuinely amusing segments.

It's just a shame that given the quirky nature of the series, the film doesn't quite do enough to convert newcomers to it, even though it will probably remain in a league of its own for fans.

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