Seize Them! (2024, dir. Curtis Vowell)

by | Apr 7, 2024

Certificate: 15

Running Time: 91 mins

UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distribution

UK Release Date: 5 April 2024

WHO’S IN SEIZE THEM!?

Aimee Lou Wood, Nicola Coughlan, Jessica Hynes, Nick Frost, Lolly Adefope, James Acaster, Ben Ashenden, Paul Kaye, John Macmillan, Nitin Ganatra, Matthew Cottle

WHO’S BEHIND THE CAMERA?

Curtis Vowell (director), Andy Riley (writer), Damian Jones and Matthew James Wilkinson (producers), Rael Jones (composer), Ashley Rowe (cinematographer), Mark Davies and Richard Shaw (editors)

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

In Medieval England, an arrogant Queen (Wood) is overthrown in a rebellion…

WHAT ARE MY THOUGHTS ON SEIZE THEM!?

Almost fifty years ago, the Monty Python troupe defied their lack of substantial funding to go out and make what is now the iconic comedy classic (and, for my money, perhaps the greatest comedy ever made) Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Despite their incredibly low-budget, the group persevered and made the most out of what little resources they had to deliver a timeless experience.

It’s a legacy that Seize Them! is clearly trying to replicate, in that it’s also a noticeably low-budget British Medieval comedy with lots of silly gags to keep itself afloat. Of course, nothing can or most likely will ever top Monty Python and the Holy Grail, though this one has a few amusing moments to be a serviceable, albeit far inferior, alternative.

The tale, as written by Andy Riley, begins in the midst of a peasant revolution as led by the bob-haired warrior Humble Joan (Nicole Coughlan). She and her fellow peasants are seeking to overthrow Queen Dagan (Aimee Lou Wood), a spoilt and tyrannical ruler who is forced to flee when her citadel is taken over and her guards and head advisor Leofwine (Jessica Hynes) all defect over to Humble Joan’s side. The young Queen is saved by her loyal servant Shulmay (Lolly Adefope), and along with simple-minded dung-shoveler Bobik (Nick Frost) she sets out on a journey to reclaim what little sovereignty she has left, all while learning the value of friendship and humility.

It’s a story you’ve certainly heard variations of time and time again, where the entitled protagonist gets a good hard dose of life outside their pampered bubble, and it more or less follows the beats you’d expect it to hit, right up to and including a third-act separation sparked by mere miscommunication. Riley’s script is also one that apparently thinks poo humour is the funniest source of comedy on the planet, as there are countless gags centred around bodily waste where the punchline always seems to be how gross and unsanitary it is (in one scene, Nick Frost’s hapless peasant simply lists all the different kinds of poo, and that is pretty much the joke). Monty Python and the Holy Grail at least used that kind of humour sparingly, if at all, whereas here it’s clearly the script’s easiest source of cheap laughs.

On the subject of cheapness, the production looks as though it couldn’t have cost north of £1 million to make, but not in a way that feels as though it’s part of the joke. It has costumes that look like they were purchased last minute at a fancy-dress store on the high-street, and they appear to reuse some of the same sets for different kingdoms, which are themselves strangely underpopulated by extras who are, during one early overhead shot, appear to be replaced by tiny CG figures making the same animated running movements. Again, Monty Python and the Holy Grail was great at working its own low budget into the humour (there’s a reason they’re using coconuts instead of horses), but here you can tell that the filmmakers were stretched thin on their financials for a script that clearly needed a larger injection of funds to properly flesh out. In a way, it’s admirable that the filmmakers still went out and made their film regardless of their limited budget, but you can always envision a more impressive production that could have been made instead of this fairly cheap-looking one.

After all that, though, Seize Them! is not a complete trainwreck. For all of its easy jokes and less than sustainable production values, the film has a very game cast who coast through it all with their easy charm and natural comedic talents. For one, Aimee Lou Wood, such a joy on Netflix’s Sex Education, is enjoyably nasty as the royal in need of a severe reality check, while Nick Frost gets some genuine belly-laughs from his delivery of certain lines of dialogue. No actor is sleepwalking through this, even though they so easily could have, and their commitment to this material is commendable, even when it’s not always working in their favour. There are times when even the production makes the most of its small budget, with some nice shots of the sunrise as well as a number of wide pans across the countryside, which at the very least suggests that the filmmakers, including director Curtis Vowell and cinematographer Ashley Rowe, are not slapping it all together so haphazardly.

Ultimately, Seize Them! is a film that needed a lot more time in the oven. With a bigger budget, and perhaps another draft of the script, it could have worked as a delightful Medieval romp. In its current form, it’s not awful, but you’re always thinking of the film that could have been instead of the one that we got.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Seize Them! is a mediocre Medieval comedy that relies heavily on easy juvenile gags to disguise its noticeably cheap production, though it’s clear from the commitment of its cast and filmmakers that it just needed better resources to fully flesh itself out.

Two out of five stars

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