One of my photos

Worst film ever?

May 8th, 2010 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 4 Comments · Life

I thought it would never happen but I have finally found a film that is worse than Forrest Gump!   It is called Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, although on the DVD box the first part is in tiny letters so it looks like it is just called Sherlock Homes. I also learned a new word – mockbuster.

A mockbuster is a low budget film that is churned out to piggyback on the publicity of a big budget film with a similar title, in this case the Guy Richie film.  The producers say it is just a tie-in, but the plan seems to be that these get released just before the ‘proper’ film does.  In this case Jayne picked it up because she knows I am a bit of a Sherlock Holmes fan, it was cheap, and she probably thought she was getting a good deal on the ‘proper’ film. I can’t even begin to describe how bad it is without spoilers.The first thing that strikes you about the film is how terrible the casting is for the main part. I know we have all been spoilt by the Jeremy Brett portrayal and anybody would have a hard time living up to that, but this is just bad.  For a start he is shorter than Watson.  He is not the lean ascetic type described by Conan Doyle at all and has none of the intensity required.

Watson is OK, played by Gareth David-Lloyd from Torchwood.  He could make a decent Watson opposite a more appropriate Holmes.

Why is it so bad?

In the film the baddie turns out to be Holmes’ brother, Thorpe.  Sherlock Holmes only has one brother, Mycroft, who works in the shady areas of the government, but in this film he is called Thorpe and used to be a policeman until getting paralysed by a bullet.  At the end it is revealed that Sherlock Holmes’ real name is Robert.

Watson also mentions that this adventure is the only time he ever saw Holmes fire a gun.  I think they may be getting confused with Doctor Who.

It turns out that the brother has overcome his paralysis by inventing an Iron Man-type suit and coming up with some neuro-surgery techniques that we still don’t have now.  He created a mechanical sea monster to wreck a government ship becasue he needed the gold in it to buy the rubber to make a mechanical dinosaur.  He needed the dinosaur to steal a water pump for some other reason – possibly for his mechanical flying dragon that he uses to burn London while his android girfriend with a bomb inside her goes to blow up the Queen.

I can live with ridiculous plots.  They are fun.  But this one doesn’t even make sense within itself.  If he can manage to invent and build mechanical dinosaurs, sea monsters and dragons that actually fly (about 20 years before the Wright brothers) why did he need to steal a pump in the first place?  Surely he could have built one.  Even then, why decide that a dinosaur, with arms and hands ill-suited to carrying is the best way to steal it?

The sea monster is supposedly needed to steal the gold to pay for the dinosaur, but it is much, much bigger and more complicated.  Why not just use the money the sea monster cost to build the dinosaur?  It is not as if Thorpe was short of money anyway – he bought a castle for all his work, and completely renovated it.

The clue might be in the production company’s earlier films: Mega Shark versus Giant Octupus and The Land That Time Forgot. Obviously they had some models knocking about and decided to recycle them. I bet one of their other films also features a flying dragon.

The dragon is a sort of steampunk machine like the mechanical spider in Wild Wild West but even less plausible, and Sherlock chases it in a hot air balloon that can fly fast, manoeuvre like a spitfire and is fitted with a machine gun.

The android girlfriend is totally lifelike, better than a replicant in Bladerunner, but inside she is full of brass cogs and gears.  Again, very steampunk – but with complete artificial intelligence.

Thorpe’s castle is somewhere remote, near where Sherlock grew up, but when the robot bomb woman goe to London by train Watson manages to catch up with her by taking a horse.

The film was made in Wales – the credits are stuffed full of Joneses and Pritchards – in about two weeks.  As a result the effect of Victorian London is really spoilt.  To an American eye it might seem OK – it is all old – but all the period details come from different periods.   For example, Holmes comes out of his door in Baker Street and there are huge castle walls at the end of the street.  In fact a lot of the street scenes look more Elizabethan than Victorian.

Given that the film was done in such a short timescale I can almost forgive the inappropriate locations, but I can;t forgive the camera work.  In one scene there is a head shot of somebody talking and the camera is all over the place like an amateur wedding video. Even I could hold a camera steadier than that.

Lots and lots of little details are just wrong or anachronistic.  In most cases because things are too modern, but at the start it is the other way round.  The ship that is attacked by giant tentacles is 80 years out-of-date for the time of the story.  They used HMS Pickle, a modern replica of the Trafalgar-era boat.

The film is made by a studio called The Asylum, that specialised in such mockbuster movies and many people reckon this is one of their best films, so I dread to think what the others are like.  I did wonder if this film falls into the category of so-bad-its-good but I’m pretty sure I will not want to watch it again, so that rules out cult status for it and it will have to remain so-bad-its-bad.

Benig a fan of all things Sherlock, I was worried about the idea of a Guy Richie version, but I am now looking forward to seeing that because there is no way it can be as awful as this.

Tags: ·

4 Comments so far ↓