Film Review (No spoilers!)
When the film begins to roll you could be forgiven for thinking you've stepped into wrong the screen.
The action takes place on a train speeding through the countryside towards the heart of London in 1944.
And action it is. This is no sitcom, it is a proper grown-up film.
Germany are on the back foot and their spies are desperate to thwart or interogate any British plans for the invasion of the continent.
Their initial attempt fails so they engage agent Cobra sending her in to Walmington-on-Sea as journalist Rose Winters. Her cover is to write about their exploits as they are close to the suspected invasion base. (This is no spoiler and the film does not hide the fact she is a spy)
Using her womanly ways, Winters beguiles several platoon members to be accepted into the platoon briefings or manoeuvres, although they refuse the latter.
In similar vein to the episode 'Wake Up, Walmington', the platoon feel they are only being used for domestic services rather than national security. The war has been on for 5 years and a German invasion seems far off.
We see the domestic side to several platoon members, and their partners can all see what effect Rose is having on them (including a starstruck Pike!).
Eventually, the platoon are given a task to patrol the cliffs near Dover (all top secret) and Rose suspects this is important and steps up her efforts to accompany the platoon.
Meantime, a couple of town residents take it upon themselves to investigate Rose Winters who tries to divert suspicions when they get near the truth.
Following an incident near the secret base, Mainwaring tries to make amends and news reaches him about a spy in their midst, so he takes action.
That's as far as I'll go with the story, I don't want to spoil details of the end for anybody.
I'm sure many will miss seeing the original characters, but once you are past that, the film carries you along. It is not too long at 90mins, and there doesn't seem to be a wasted scene (others have agreed).
We, as intelligent viewers, are left to work out for ourselves that Mainwaring, Wilson & Frank work in a bank, that Jones is a butcher, Walker a Spiv and Frazer a funeral director, so nothing has changed.
The inclusion of Mrs Mainwaring raised some hackles, but, as with the other female partners, their inclusion just brings the town landscape to life, and their presence is not overplayed in any way (Elizabeth has obviously got over her problem of not leaving the house since 'Munich'!).
Some may point out that Wilson never went to Oxford, but I guess this is a way of connecting two of the characters in a location renowned for the recruitment of spies.
Toby Jones demands special mention, taking on one of Britain's most iconic characters, he is faultless in his role. As with the TV series, the platoon members don't get too much to say individually, and none of them are stretched in their roles.
It was nice to see Frank Williams as the Vicar distributing tea in the Church Hall and Ian Lavender appears as Brigader Pritchard to tear Mainwaring off a strip.
Some of the funniest scenes are in the church hall (I was lucky enough to view some of them being filmed) which some might say is the platoon's natural environment.
If you listen carefully, Wilson even calls Pike 'son' on one occassion.
Many have asked if the catchphrases are used, and thankfully the writer hasn't relied on these to fill space, although each character manages to utter their own once!
Some may mention why the platoon appear to sing the theme song (not composed until 1968), but they did the same in the TV series ('Battle School') which shows, along with several other nods to the original, that the writer is a real fan of the series.
Zeta-Jones looks very good on screen, and her bright clothes in stark contrast to the uniforms and the drab clothing of the Town residents.
Some of the CGI used seems far from perfect on the limited budget (we are used to seeing this done well) although good effects are those you don't notice and I'm informed there were over 100 created in the film.
An enjoyable film, but I fear it may be slammed unfairly by the critics. It is head and shoulders above other recent TV spin off movies (eg The Inbetweeners, Mrs Brown's Boys Da Movie), and way above those of the 70s.
The film was released by Universal on 5 February 2016.
DVD to be released in June 2016
Took place on 26 January at the Odeon Leicester Square, London
Two trailers were released (here).
In addition, several posters were also released, shown below.