Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The World's Greatest Detective

Forget all that nonsense about the great literary detective Sherlock Holmes solving murders and outwitting Professor Moriarty. What we really want is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 19th-century sleuth fighting giant monsters! Leave it to The Asylum to confuse the next generation of movie renters who will find this on the shelf right next to the Robert Downey Jr. movie.

No joke—Holmes (Ben Syder, making his screen debut) and Watson (TORCHWOOD’s Gareth David-Lloyd) go up against a poorly rendered CGI kraken, dragon, and dinosaur in this ludicrous action picture from the director of SUNDAY SCHOOL MUSICAL (!), Rachel Lee Goldenberg. No, wait, even better—not just monsters, but…robot monsters!

Inspector Lestrade (William Huw) brings in Holmes and Watson to investigate a shipwreck in the English Channel. The lone survivor claims he was the victim of a sea monster, but his claims are dismissed as delirious ravings. After a prostitute’s john is ripped apart in the East End by what witnesses claim to be a dinosaur, Holmes’ investigation leads him to a previously abandoned castle, where he and Watson encounter the film’s human villain: Thorpe (!) Holmes (Dominic Keating from STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE), Sherlock’s brother, Lestrade’s ex-partner who disappeared after being crippled by a robber’s bullet seven years earlier.

Thirsty for revenge, Thorpe built himself an Iron Man outfit that allows him to walk, a sex robot (!) to serve as his assistant, and his mechanical creatures that he ultimately plans to use to destroy London. I enjoyed the unusual (to say the least) science fiction concept, which is pure WILD WILD WEST, but in typical Asylum fashion, the studio is too cheap to really put it over.

If the climax of your movie is going to be an aerial dogfight between a propeller-driven hot air balloon and a fire-breathing mechanical dragon, you owe it to your audience to make it somewhat credible. The Asylum’s neglect, however, in the film’s visual effects and hideous brown digital photography are no help in selling the illusion. The acting is equally lifeless—Syder is probably the screen’s dullest Holmes—and the brainless screenplay is structured as a flashback in the form of a secret journal entry told by an old Watson to his young nurse, who unbelievably has never heard any such thing of London being trashed by a flying robot dragon. And you thought today’s youth was ignorant of history.

I can’t be too rough on SHERLOCK HOLMES, however, since I do admire its cheeky concept, and The Asylum does seem to be trying, for once, to make a worthwhile film (PRINCESS OF MARS shows the same misguided effort, though everyone walks through MEGAFAULT, for example). With more effort in casting, scripting, cinematography, and effects, it may have turned out rather well. With a cute ending that hints at a sequel, perhaps the studio will do better the second time around.


Brandon L. Summers said...

Brilliant writing, as usual.

I would love to know your opinion of 2005's "H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds."

Not the $200 million Spielberg version, or the Asylum version starring C. Thomas Howell, but the Timothy Hines version that cost only $5,000 to produce and is 3 hours long.

All three version were released late June 2005.

Marty McKee said...

I have had that 3-hour WAR OF THE WORLDS for quite awhile, but have not yet been brave enough to watch it. I love that it exists though.

hobbyfan said...

In a word----poppycock!

I await the release of the Robert Downey, Jr. interpretation of Holmes on DVD very shortly, and have reservations about a treatment that involves Will Ferrell. The Asylum's writers read too many comic books, IMPO, because we don't need Holmes solving crimes reserved for the likes of Kolchak.....

Neil Sarver said...

With all of these awesome ideas, it's frustrating to me that The Asylum can't quite deliver. I understand that budgets affect that, but there's something hopelessly dull about them that I never quite get over.

I may have to check this out one day, though.

[Yes, my word verification is "torment"]

Anonymous said...

If you have 89 minutes to spare and you really (and I mean really) have nothing better to do then watch this film as a last resort. Marvell at the poor script, crap acting, crap casting, lack of extras, empty sets etc. It really doesn't get much worse than this! Remember if it looks like a lemon, smells like a lemon and tastes like a lemon then it probably is in fact a LEMON!