Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Worst (Robert) Sherlock Holmes Movie Ever?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes
(loosely) based on characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

My given name is Robert Sherlock Holmes. But who would ever remember a detective called Robert Holmes? (Robert Sherlock Holmes, aka Sherlock Holmes)

I honestly don't know where to start. I guess I'll start with the term mockbuster. I've been aware of this concept for quite some time but I never knew that it actually had a name. A mockbuster (sez Wikipedia) is "a film created with the apparent intention of piggy-backing on the publicity of a major film with a similar title or theme and are often made with a low budget."

So if it seems like an incredible coincidence that there was a movie named Sherlock Holmes released at around the same time as the Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downey Jr., rest assured that it’s not. Technically, this one's actually called Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, though the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle part appears in very tiny print in most of the packaging and promo materials I've seen.

The screenwriter for this production, it should be noted, has had a hand in such other cinematic treats as 2-Headed Shark Attack, Nazis at the Center of the Earth, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid and Gacy House, to name a few of the more memorable titles. So if you go into (Robert) Sherlock Holmes expecting great art, you may be in for a disappointment. Come to think of it, if you're expecting even mediocre art you're likely to be let down quite a bit.

If, on the other hand, you're ready to spend 90-some minutes perched on the edge of your seat, heedless of the fact that you're spilling popcorn all over the place, whilst you contemplate a Z-grade entertainment in which Bob Holmes, Dr. Watson and Inspector Lestrade pursue (and are pursued by, it must be said) CGI dinosaurs lifted straight out of Jurassic Park, then you've absolutely come to the right place. Oh, and let's not forget about the CGI sea monster. Or the great clanking, steampunk-inspired, fire-breathing metal dragon that carries itself aloft merely by flapping its vast wings even though it's made of metal and must weigh at least twenty tons. Or the great, not-clanking, but also steampunk-inspired hot air balloon that inexplicably sports a pair of helicopter-type rotors.

I don't know that there's much more to say than that. I could comment on the fact that Ben Syder (not a typo) is quite possibly the worst Bobby Holmes of all time, portraying him more or less as some sort of soft-spoken faux Byronic dandy. But since it appears to be his first (only?) feature role (and he was probably distraught over losing a consonant) that would hardly be sporting, so I won't. Besides, he did say "elementary" and "the game's afoot" at least once and what more do you really need from a cinematic portrayal of Roberto Holmes?

I'm also not going to mention that Gareth David-Lloyd doesn't fare much better as Watson, even though he's apparently had actual acting experience in a TV series called Torchwood, which I've never seen. Or that when the light is right Lestrade (William Huw) looks a little bit like Larry the Cable Guy. Nor will I discuss the story or plot or whatever you want to call it. I omit this latter simply because there didn't appear to be much in the way of a story or plot, at least not that I was able to discern. Though I will admit that things kept happening pretty much from the beginning to the end of the film.

And I'm certainly not going to mention Thorpe Holmes (yes, really), Bobbo's long-lost brother and the sneering, maniacal villain of the piece, who's played by a guy who previously played a minor character in Star Trek: Enterprise, the very last of the five Star Trek TV series, and who gets to wear a really cool golden metal suit for part of the proceedings and whose sidekick is some cold as ice goth-ish type dame who may or may not turn out to be some kind of android (I wasn't clear on this last point). I confess that I'm not real well-versed in the Sherlock Holmes canon but I'm gonna take a stab and guess that at no time does Thorpe figure in the proceedings.

I will not mention any of these things simply because when it comes to right down to it I've always had a soft spot in my heart for purveyors of certain varieties of cinematic crap. The enterprising souls who loosed this steaming heap upon the world are probably not that far removed from such crap purveyors of yesteryear as Ed Wood, William Castle, Herschell Gordon Lewis and Ray Dennis Steckler and if they can put something this unrelentingly absurd out in the world without flinching then I say more power to them. Besides, I'd be willing to bet all of my Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus trading cards that the good people responsible for (Robert) Sherlock Holmes are hardy, thick-skinned types who are quite impervious to criticism, thank you very much, and are probably too busy working on a sequel to Snakes on a Train or The Da Vinci Treasure or the 18 Year Old Virgin to give a hoot what anyone thinks.

So get outta here. I gotta run. Transmorphers: Fall of Man certainly isn't gonna watch itself, you know. After that it's on to Sunday School Musical and then I intend to seek help from a qualified mental health professional.

(As luck would have it I discovered this movie about a week after the inaugural episode of the Old School Mystery Roundtable Podcast. In which a group of us mystery bloggers gathered to discuss the topic How Much Sherlock is Too Much? Listen to the podcast here.)


  1. Yes, I decided not to bring this piece of junk up during our discussion because it really has to be seen to be believed. The Asylum is truly well-named; all they ever do is make cheap ripoffs of current blockbusters and hope that some poor saps will buy it thinking it's the real thing. I have no idea why it's legal.

  2. The same thing happens with Disney cartoons -- every time they release a fairytale movie someone whips up a cheap and nasty knock-off of the same story. I assume they're aimed at grannies who know that little Emma wants a Rapunzel DVD for her birthday, but are too out of touch to distinguish the real from the fake.

  3. It definitely beats the ones with Matt Frewer :)