Sherlock Holmes DVD Review
Directed by Rachel Goldenberg
Written by Paul Bales
2009, Region 1 (NTSC), 89 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on January 26th, 2010
Ben Syder as Sherlock Holmes
Gareth David-Lloyd as Watson
Dominic Keating as Spring-Heeled Jack
William Huw as Inspector LeStrade
During the air strikes over 1940s London, an elderly Doctor Watson shares with an assistant a personal account of an unpublished adventure he had with the ever-engaging Sherlock Holmes. Sixty years ago, a ship was attacked by a giant sea monster and the only survivor told a story easily dismissed by most, but not Holmes.
The investigation of the sunken ship is soon overshadowed by the late night attacks of a dinosaur. The latest victim is a horny john, killed in front of his intended prostitute. The monster is a gentleman and leaves the whore alone without scarring her features. Holmes and Watson follow the leads to a rubber factory and before the investigation can go much farther, our heroes are running for their lives from the CGI beast.
The plot slides back to the overly familiar, as Holmes discovers he has history with the man behind the mischief for reasons a bit preposterous. The beleaguered third act lumbers its way to the finish line pushing all boundaries of logic and technology. Everything seems to wrap up with a tidy bow, until a tacked-on epilogue throws a final twist that is both fitting and confusing at the same time.
The cast is strong and the performances engaging, but the two leads would be stronger if their roles had been reversed. Ben Syder’s Sherlock Holmes is a bit of a fop, neither threatening nor commanding. Gareth David-Lloyd (Torchwood) fares much better as Doctor Watson, who manages to keep up with the action and provide brief moments of comic relief along the way.
Dominic Keating (Star Trek: Enterprise) sneers his way through the scenery as the villain, but is given very little depth as a character. William Huw (Merlin and the War of the Dragons) appears as Inspector LeStrade, a nice foil for Watson and a strong antagonist for Holmes. The character is stiff and reserved, but Huw manages to make him almost instantly likeable.
The real star of Sherlock Holmes is the Wales countryside. The producers have managed to work in as many actual buildings as possible, giving the film an authenticity that is sorely needed in low-budget period pieces. The locations on display are pretty amazing at times, and both interiors and exteriors are equally impressive.
Director Rachel Goldenberg has been a part of The Asylum family for years, serving as Assistant Director or Line Producer on several films including Transmorphers II and Megafault. Working from a script by fellow Asylum stalwart Paul Bales (Legion of the Dead), Goldenberg is able to keep the material moving at a steady clip.
Sherlock Holmes is exactly what it needs to be without pandering for excessive comedy or stalling out beneath its own seriousness. The material is corny and the effects are laughable at times, usually whenever the dinosaur is sneaking up on someone or jumping out of a tree. The cover art for the DVD is spot-on, featuring the city of London being attacked by a dragon, a dinosaur and a giant squid! If only all three of these things happened simultaneously, and exactly as they are depicted on the box, this would be the best low-budget movie ever. Maybe next time.
Video and Audio:
The film is given a pretty solid 1:78 anamorphic transfer with strong blacks and accurate flesh tones. Colors are a bit muted, but this seems to be a deliberate choice and a direct result of filming in Wales.
Audio comes in the form of a 2-channel stereo mix that I am sure is fine, but can be ignored for the preferable 5.1 surround mix. This latter option makes surprisingly good use of the rear channels and dialogue remains clear.
The special features are standard fare for The Asylum, but the effort is always appreciated. This DVD comes equipped with a commentary track featuring members of the cast and crew. Everyone seems in good spirits and the track is never dull as the participants alternately share production tales and have fun with the movie’s cheesier moments.
Following the commentary is a short (9-minute) behind-the-scenes featurette that presents a glimpse at the making of the film.
A blooper reel is also provided for those who enjoy watching the flubbed lines and goofy faces that make up actor mistakes.
A trailer for this and several other Asylum titles round out the package.
This conveniently timed release of Sherlock Holmes will never be confused with the Hollywood blockbuster, but neither will it disappoint fans of the low-budget adventure.
Click the cover to purchase.
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