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Burke and Hare - Enjoyable enough, but doesn't quite deliver
on 17 January 2012
This is an enjoyable romp detailing the adventurers of two Irish rogues who would go on to be two of the most infamous murderers in Scottish history, the body snatchers Burke and Hare. This is, from the off, a comedy, so don't expect any grim realities. Burke and Hare have been reimagined from the evil low life of reality into Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis's loveable Irish rogues out to make a living and being sucked into the easy money to be made supplying corpses to eminent surgeon Dr. Knox.
On paper the film should be great - 2 talented leads, a good idea to base the film around and a host of cameos from well known faces old and new (including Ronnie Corbett and Christopher Lee, not names you often see alongside each other!) which provide pleasing links to the great horror and comedy films of the past. The use of the real life Edinburgh locations where the two real villains would have lurked is a nice touch, as are the little details such as an appearance from Greyfriars Bobby. But while the whole thing is ok, it never really seems to really take off.
Some of the jokes are a bit laboured, and some of the performances lacklustre (especially, and it pains me to say this about someone whose work I have enjoyed so much in the past, Tim Curry). The romantic subplot, which is necessary to give the film its noble ending, never really gets off the ground due to a lack of chemistry between Pegg and Fisher. The film does often take off and provide genuine laughs, and some scenes are hilarious. But it just isn't consistent, so 3 stars only. It's worth seeing, and enjoyable enough, but not a classic.
The guest appearance from the real William Burke was a great touch, and shows some real imagination on the part of the film makers. And any film in which a certain annoying insurance salesman is treated in such a fashion is worth a look.
I would recommend a look at Flesh & The Fiends [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] for a somewhat different take on the legend.