This is the absolute perfect mockbuster for our enemies over at The Asylum. The character is in the public domain, his adventures – some of the most famous mystery stories of all time – are in the public domain, and the “real” version of the film was a huge hit. All the dominoes are lining up for a fun time, but can the Asylum knock them over and make them fall the right way?
The first scene sets you right on the back foot, as we’re introduced to Holmes and Watson. Watson is a reasonably well-known British actor (Gareth David-Lloyd, better known as Ianto from Doctor Who spin-off “Torchwood”), but the guy playing Holmes had, according to IMDB, never acted on screen before, and has only done a few short films since, and it shows. They’re like a bad pair of amateur-dramatics actors, all big gestures and way too much of everything, and much as I’d like to report they eventually calm down in their roles, if I did I would be lying.
One might also expect them to follow the plot of one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. They’ve all been filmed before, so there’s multiple templates for the action, characters, etc., if the Asylum didn’t feel like doing too much work. You don’t have to do this, of course, but it would seem to make sense for a low-budget company. Now, I’ve not read or seen all the Sherlocks, but I don’t remember one where dinosaurs run around a steampunk version of London?
The main word for this film is “pointless”. Going to the Cliffside to investigate what might have been a shipwreck due to a giant octopus-thing, Holmes sends Watson down on a rope to investigate. He only gets halfway down before demanding to be pulled up; that all that effort could have been replaced by walking a bit further and just using a pair of binoculars seems not to have occurred to anyone. The camera focuses too closely on a Watson-administered injection which goes nowhere near the skin of the injectee. Later on, Watson does some doctoring in a scene which was added purely to bulk the running time out a bit.
What isn’t pointless is when a dinosaur starts rampaging through the slums, though. I was sort of disappointed that none of the soon-to-be-corpses went “wow! A dinosaur!” before they were killed, but we can’t have everything (where would we put it?)
In the classic Asylum style, they never rip off name and story from the same place, even though, like I said, the stories are in the public domain. And are good. The inspiration for this film comes from two rather surprising sources – firstly, the most recent “Three Musketeers” film, from which it takes a rather gleeful lack of interest in the time the film is supposed to be set; and secondly, for reasons which you’ll be able to figure out when you get closer to the end, “Wild Wild West”. I was waiting for Hollywood to rediscover the Will Smith “classic” (I genuinely like it, wildly over the top as it is), but Asylum is more Hollywood-adjacent I suppose. They do slip in what I assume is a little joke about the recent film work of Robert Downey Jr, too.
This could have been good. Filmed in Wales, which does a good job of doubling as Victorian London, it has an interesting visual to it. It’s just such a rubbish film. Dull, terribly acted, logic gulfs aplenty, and just the barest minimum of effort made. Shame on you guys, really.
Rating: thumbs down