This is not the film you may think it is, but it's the film that perhaps Robert Downie Jr. and Guy Ritchie should have made.
The Asylum are apparently a studio that specialise in "mockbusters", movies that are timed to release around the same time as a big-budget movie with a similar theme, and often with a similar name too. They're frequently poor quality and not always in the best of taste. On the other hand, if you saw a Sherlock Holmes DVD with dinosaurs, dragons, a robot and a giant octopus on the cover, you'd have to buy it too, right? Right?
It turns out, from reading other opinions online, that this is one of Asylum's better efforts - so l don't recommend rushing out to buy up their œuvre. But what do I think of this one?
It's not bad. Alright, it's not exactly good either, but it's OK as a casual watch, and better than OK in some aspects. It has cracking locations and lighting (usually) and looks more convincing as Victorian London than Guy Ritchie's version - less polished, of course, but the exteriors are all done in real locations rather than sets, and it shows.
Some aspects are less than OK; the mix is rubbish. I had to turn the volume up to hear properly, and sometimes dialogue was lost behind the music.
Contributing to the sound problem is Sherlock's voice. The actor playing Sherlock Holmes - Ben Syder, in his first film role - sounds rather ineffectual and doesn't entirely carry off the role. Luckily he's supported by a stronger Doctor Watson, Gareth David-Lloyd (aka Ianto from Torchwood). Most of the acting is quite acceptable.
There's a nice feel to the movie's vintage or steampunk elements although sometimes things look a bit too old - they should perhaps look newer than they do. Still, I would rather they erred in that direction than having things look too polished. Over all, they succeed. Listening to the commentary, I gather that a number of the props were actually museum pieces, which would account for their aged looks. Cheaper to borrow them than have copies made!
The effects are mostly good; the two things that stood out for me as not working were the Tyrannosaurus's two-footed standing jump, and the steampunk balloon was a bit of a failure. Apart from that, it stood up well for a budget movie. There's effective use of close-ups to avoid expensive wide shots. I did notice, but I thought the close-ups were good and appropriate shots.
The plot - is a plot. It wouldn't bear close inspection, but it's alright if you're in an accepting frame of mind. The script wasn't bad either, considering it was written by an American on a low budget for a British cast and setting. Those watching particularly from a steampunk perspective may be disappointed that there's no explanation.
This movie cost me £7. I enjoyed it and don't mind too much what it cost, but to be honest, I couldn't recommend it at that price. It's more of a £3 movie; but if you can get it that cheap or watch it free, it might be just the sort of thing for a brainless afternoon. It's tosh, but better tosh than you might be expecting.