Thursday, December 20, 2012

Burke & Hare

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Burke & Hare – 4 out of 5

We’ve all hit hard times. Everyone has had a moment where they’ve had to do some horrible, shameful, “I might have to log several dozen hours with a therapist in order to forget the things I’ve seen” eras in our lives when times get tough—or at least, that’s the reaction the people who saw me revert back to my old job of stripping when the economy crashed. However, I’m sure very few of us (or at least I hope very few of us) have had to resort to straight-up murder to help make the ends meet. Believe it or not, there have been some cases where the only way to pay for the groceries on the table is to do some killing.

Some smell farts for extra cash in hard times.

Back in the early 1800s in England, two men; William Burke and William Hare (two friends united by a similar first name), hit some hard times and were desperate for money. As luck would have it, medical science was also hitting some hard times as they were unable to get their hands on the cadavers (dead bodies for those of you reading this review either drunk or dumb) in order to advance the medical field and knowledge of the human body. After Burke and Hare (Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis) find a body fall into their laps (not literally fall in their laps), they soon learn that the local medical school, run by Dr. Robert Knox (Tom Wilkinson) will pay money for the fresh deceased. Soon, the two men realized that the only way to pay the bills is murder and easy street is paved with bodies!

"Bodies, Precious?"

Directed by John Landis (his first feature in over a decade), this film is a black comedy based on the actual serial killers of William Burke and William Hare; their killing spree dubbed the West Port Murders and the two men racked in a body count of 17 people. Adjusting that for inflation by today’s more savvy serial killers, that amounts to 45 million people—although, my math may be off by several million or so.

Tim Curry and Stephan Merchant in one shot with pickled feet in a jar...
I don't know what's going on here but I'm in.

Dark comedies are always a tricky subject for a movie because they deal with situations that are often considered inappropriate or involve satire or fall in the dreaded territory of “too soon.” I think enough time has passed where the Burke and Hare murders can now be satirized and, let me say that, it was done quite well and I found it to be very funny.

Andy Serkis makes killing people for profit in the late 1800s funny stuff.

Simon Pegg has, since Shaun of the Dead, been imported to the States and declared a Nation Treasure so it’s no surprise that he’s adorable and charming as William Burke—his level of adorability and awkward charm was only enhanced by the fact the character of Burke continues to murder in order to have the money to help finance a show (and possibly get into those pantaloons) of a struggling actress Ginny Hawkins (Isla Fisher) who dreams of putting on a all female version of Macbeth.

Her breasts already made me buy 10 tickets to the show.

Then you have Andy Serkis playing a role that doesn’t require him to be completely replaced with a CG character. While his performances as Gollum, Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and as Kong in Peter Jackson’s embarrassingly boring King Kong are so tremendous that his personality and strength is able to bust through the pixels like some sort computerized Kool-Aid man, it is an always welcomed sight to see him as a flesh and blood actor. And he plays a terrific counterpart to Pegg’s innocent (as innocent as a serial killer is capable of being) Burke as the more cunning and more deceptive William Hare.

"I'm going to sneeze, I'm allergic to dead bodies."

Along side Serkis and Pegg, the film throws in some great supporting characters and actors to portray them. You got Tom Wilkinson as the doctor professionally profiting off of the killers, Tim Curry as the competing doctor to Wilkinson, Ronnie Corbett as the Captain of the militia investigating the West Port murders and even a small role played by Christopher Lee as Burke and Hare’s inspiration to make a killing at killing.

Awww, Lord Saruman is sleeping...oh, wait.

Burke & Hare is a hilarious dark comedy that tells the story of an already interesting event in our world’s history. While the film isn’t without its imperfections, like the fact that Burke and Hare’s killing spree isn’t focused on as well as it should and is seen more as a montage, these imperfections don’t take away from the nasty humor, British wit and entertaining nature of the film. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get on stage to threaten people with the idea of taking my clothes off in order to make money.

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