Two new movies titled "Sherlock Holmes" currently dot the landscape. One, of course, features Robert Downey Jr. The other features rockets and dinosaurs, junior.
Confused? Then I'm assuming you've never heard of Asylum Home Entertainment, which specializes in riding the coattails of Hollywood's big-budget offerings with direct-to-DVD productions. Fans call them "mockbusters"; Asylum prefers the term "tie-in." For example, at the same time "Transformers" was making bank in theaters, you could rent "Transmorphers" at home. It's the kind of thing upon which Roger Corman practically based his entire career.
And now there's "Sherlock Holmes," which can be titled as such because the character is in the public domain. In this film, Holmes (newcomer Ben Syder) and Dr. Watson (Gareth David-Lloyd, TV's "Torchwood") undergo an adventure the great detective asked his pal not to commit to paper. And no wonder, because it's one readers likely would never believe. After all, do you recall encountering prostitutes and prehistoric creatures in Victorian London's alleyways?
Things start off interesting, with a ship being downed by a tentacled monster, and the introduction of Holmes and Watson is done in a manner befitting of the characters. But I quickly lost interest, although the scenes in which they "? or others in the cast "? run from dinos admittedly carry a kick of kitsch. By the time Dominic Keating (TV's "Star Trek Enterprise") showed up in a steampunk-ready rocket suit, my attention had diminished.
You could fault the addition of anachronistic horror and sci-fi elements to the Arthur Conan Doyle canon, but you'd be a wet blanket for doing so. Lighten up, because the flick certainly does. The real problem, I'm afraid, is the decision to give Syder the lead role; he's too short, too wussy and too unappealing, casting a dull pallor over the entire proceedings.
At least the crew tries. The movie may exist as a cash grab, but it's not phoned in, either. As the behind-the-scenes footage plays out, everyone involved seems young, eager and energetic to give this thing a try, low budget be damned. For Asylum fans "? and I know they're out there "? the disc also includes several trailers for other look-alike releases, most notably "Paranormal Entity." "?Rod Lott