Wednesday, 28 May 2014



Ignore the suspiciously familiar font on the artwork: even though it came out at exactly the same time, this is not the one with Robert Downey Jr. Nor is it the one with Jeremy Brett, Basil Rathbone, Nicol Williamson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Robert Stephens or Tom Baker. Hell, you haven't even bought the one with Roger Moore. This is a mockbuster: a cheap ripoff opportunistically timed to confuse casual shoppers who've heard there's a new Sherlock film out, and by the time you get home from Tescos with the wrong one it's too late. Elementary, really.

Worse still: if you'd read the really really small print on the bottom of the Sherlock Holmes DVD box you'd have spotted The Asylum in the credit block, so not only have you not got Robert Downey Jr, you've ended up with Ben Syder. No, me neither. As far as the cast is concerned the big name is Torchwood's Gareth David-Lloyd, playing Watson. Or Dominic Keating (Star Trek: Enterprise) as the villain, Thorpe Holmes. Yes: Sherlock's other brother, who can only move in a metal suit that certainly doesn't look anything like Iron Man, is plotting revenge on London, Queen Victoria and Inspector Lestrade by means of a giant rubber dinosaur and a clockwork woman....

Because The Asylum shoot these things on a budget of about £4.95, and because they ban from the set anyone who looks like they might have the faintest clue what they're doing, you do tend to end up with films that are irredeemably terrible even on that mythical so-bad-it's-great plane. It's a pity, because if they'd actually spent some serious cash on this particular project, and if they'd cast a Holmes who had the slightest presence and personality, they might have magicked up a halfway decent oddity that had the resources to carry through on its more bonkers ideas. Don't put krakens in these things if you can't realise them properly, and if you think "yeah, that'll do", it won't. (Yes, it has a kraken in it. Don't ask.)

This Sherlock Holmes doesn't even feel like a proper movie, rather it has the air of a fan film made on weekends by enthusiasts with a decent digital camcorder and some period costumes. It looks cheap and drab, the plot makes no sense (there's a scene where Watson has to climb down a cliff for absolutely no reason), and the extensive CGI isn't even up to Mega Piranha standards, because The Asylum wouldn't give Rachel Lee Goldenberg the money to produce a halfway decent movie out of it. (Yay for female directors finally getting a crack at cultural icons!) In the end, its only success is suckering the unaware in the Sainsburys DVD aisle.


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