Remember those old Gerry and Sylvia Anderson television series from Great Britain? The ones that were all done with puppets and marionettes in a style they dubbed “supermarionation” and often featured teams of heroes fighting off alien invaders and the like. Well, the filmmakers of Jackboots On Whitehall, brothers Edward and Rory McHenry, have done the Andersons one better, appropriating their style and using it to tell a satirical tale of World War Two that never really happened.
Jackboots On Whitehall premiers today on DVD, video on demand services and as a digital download.
World War Two has not been going well for Great Britain. The Nazis have decimated the British Air Force and are preparing a sneak attack that will strike at the heart of London itself. Meanwhile, out in a countryside village, young Chris wants to defend his country but has been told that his abnormally large hands have disqualified him for national service. That doesn’t stop him from rushing to London to rescue Prime Minister Winston Churchill from the Nazi’s when they invade via underground tunnels. Along with Churchill, a few remaining soldiers, and a crazy gung-ho American pilot, Chris and the rest of the villagers retreat to the strange and mysterious country of Scotland, where they will make their final stand against the advancing Nazi menace.
Although the DVD cover is emblazoned with the review quote “Team America crashing headfirst into Inglorious Basterds!”, Jackboots On Whitehall doesn’t necessarily live up to such hype. That’s not to say that it is a bad film, just that such marketing perhaps sets up more expectations than the movie can meet. On its own, the film is an entertaining comedy, grandly silly and a good time. It plays with a number of war movie conventions and when it gleefully and overtly pilfers a few things from other films (“Light the beacons!”) it does so with the air of a child playing with action figures from a dozen different toy lines. There are a few jokes that may go over the head of States-side audiences, but not enough to ever really alienate viewers.
The DVD transfer of the film is pretty good with no visible distracting flaws and the upconvert from my Blu-ray player to my high-def TV looked just as good. A pity the same couldn’t be said for the supplemental materials which suffer from fairly major interlacing artifacts when upconverted. The artifacts are far less pronounced when played in a conventional DVD player, which leads me t o suspect that the cause may ultimately lie in the conversion of the original PAL material to NTSC.