Repro scamology is an art form. The trick is to fool the public into believing that they are purchasing the real thing and not a clever copy. No worries here, then. Clever does not enlighten the vocabulary of Paul Bales’s script for Rachel Lee Goldenberg’s version of Sherlock Holmes, which has as much in common with Guy Ritchie’s extravaganza as a cow pat with a crème briolette.

Shot in Wales in 13 days, there is nothing to recommend this travesty. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle might have twitched in his grave when the mercurial Robert Downey Jr took the role of his great detective, but when the diminutive Ben Syder attempts a similar incarnation he would have turned somersaults with fury. This is miscasting on a grand scale. Syder has no charisma, no presence, no evidence of mental agility. He could play an elf in Elf, but little else. As for Gareth David-Lloyd, as Dr Watson, he resembles a weekend rugby player, better suited as a pub raconteur than a Victorian medic.

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The plot hits a high note of absurdity early on when a sailing boat is sunk by a Fifties special effect. By the time diddy Bob (Sherlock’s first name is Robert, apparently) and the beefy doc are on the scene, a dinosaur has been seen scaring poor people in the slums of Fake London. This forces the intrepid duo into the country, where they run through rhododendron bushes, like frightened children, and Watson is lowered down a cliff for no apparent reason.

The maddie (Dominic Keating) is a relative of the pipe smoking midget, who lives in a castle with a robotic woman (Elizabeth Arends) and a collection of working models of mythical monsters. His aim is to burn down the capital and kill Queen Vic. Why, you may ask. Even Baker Street’s best can’t work that one out and the audience either doesn’t care, or has left the building.

“Make haste!” Holmes squeaks. “After the events of last night, time is the essence.”

It’s not time, but sense, that requires assistance. Naturally, none is available.

Reviewed on: 29 Apr 2010
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An improbable case for the Victorian detective that has nothing to do with Guy Ritchie's entertaining extravaganza.
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Director: Rachel Lee Goldenberg

Writer: Paul Bales

Starring: Ben Syder, Gareth David-Lloyd, Dominic Keating, William Huw, Elizabeth Arends

Year: 2010

Runtime: 86 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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