To celebrate my birthday with my friends, I went to see RED with the lads and Burke and Hare with my BobKat :-)
Neither film has been universally praised, but I am one person who makes up my own mind about what I like and what I don't like.
RED (Retired; Extremely Dangerous) was a glorious romp through every secret agent movie you can think of. Steered by the magnificent Bruce Willis, who was supported strongly by John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren with Brian Cox adding his weight to the cast, this film about four retired secret agents who relive their heyday when one of their number is threatened by the CIA. With a surprise appearance by Ernest Borgnine, this film proved to be a delight. Lots of ludicrously over the top gunfire, car chases, fights and so on - this film played on every cliche they could think of. The result was a cleverly written and excellently acted and directed action movie.
Burke and Hare was a revisit to the notorious gentlemen in Edinburgh in the 1820s who discovered there was money to be made providing cadavers to the medical community. The film opens with the statement 'This film is based on a true story - except for the bits we made up!' - which sums it up concisely and honestly.
Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis revelled in the juicy title roles and were ably supported by Tom Wilkinson, Tim Curry and the ever-so luscious Hugh Bonneville. Even old comedian Ronnie Corbett made an appearance as a mad Militia Captain. This grim story was given a facelift and the black humour was picked out of the bones. It was so funny, we found ourselves giggling inanely to roaring with laughter - from the failed murder attempts to the fainting militia soldier and right on to the little things like always stepping over the prone wolfhound in the pub and the perceived naivety of William Burke. The ultimate irony of this was that the film showed Burke confessing to protect his girl, but in reality Hare was offered immunity from prosecution if he confessed and agreed to testify against Burke. Hare's testimony led to Burke's death sentence and Burke was hanged and his cadaver was given to the Edinburgh Medical College for dissection, and his skeleton still stands in their museum. Admittedly, the writers did play fast and loose with a very dark subject, changing elements to lighten the effect and, as a result, have produced an eminently watchable, if mostly fictional, story of two of Scotland's most notorious serial killers.
Both films have made my DVD wishlist - I could watch them again and again....