Sherlock Gnomes

SHERLOCK GNOMES,  UK, 2018.  Voices of: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, Chiwitel Ejiofor, Jamie Demetriou, Mary J. Blige, Dexter Fletcher, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Matt Lucas, Ozzy Osbourne, Stephen Merchant, Richard Wilson. Directed by John Stevenson.  86 mintues.  Rated G.

We all know Sherlock Holmes. We have read the stories by Conan Doyle. We have seen the films, going back to the 1930s or t o Basil Rathbone. We have seen a variety of actors portraying Sherlock Holmes and we have seen the television series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. There is a certain fascination in anticipating an animated feature film where Sherlock is the protector of all the garden gnomes of London.

But, what about the children who are the target audience for this film. Do they recognise the name? Do they know anything about Sherlock Holmes? Probably not. So, what is the attraction? The filmmakers have prepared a base by making a film some years ago with the garden gnomes, Gnomeo and Juliet. And Gnomeo and Juliet are here again, easing the way into the Sherlock story. Clearly, this is an opportunity for children to learn about the great detective and for parents and adults to explain and share their memories and experiences of Sherlock Holmes.

The setting is this: garden gnomes are being transferred to a London house with a very limited and scruffy garden which horrifies them. They are in the home of Lord Redbrick and Lady Blueberry (voiced momentarily by Michael Caine and Maggie Smith). When the couple go out, the garden gnomes (and a large amorous frog) come alive.

The gnome Capulets nominate in Gnomeo and Juliet as leaders of the gnomes and they work beautifying the garden. However, danger is at hand, and the gnomes are all abducted.

Who would do such a thing? Conan Doyle fans will immediately come up with the name: Moriarty. We are introduced to the clash between Sherlock and Moriarty (who appears on screen in the likeness of the baby doll). They clash in a museum where Sherlock and Dr Watson rescue some of the gnomes. The dinosaur bones collapse and Moriarty is presumed dead. Not a bit of it. He then abducts all the gnomes of London, hiding them in a cavernous area at the base of Tower Bridge, all decked out, and glued to their seats, to form a being colourful capital M.

Sherlock is, as always, self-assured, arrogant in his manner, very superior, even to Dr Watson, upsetting him with the result that Watson wants to prove himself but makes the situation worse. Gnomeo and Juliet are not abducted and they participate in tracking down the gnomes and in the rescue. Moriarty intends destruction – when the bridge opens to let shipping through, the mechanisms will go down on and crush the gnomes.

This means that there is quite a lot of action in the film, searching and sleuthing, Holmes and co aboard a large ship, a helicopter flight, two rather dumb live gargoyles, like dragons, as Moriarty’s assistants, scaling the heights of Tower Bridge, gnomes falling, soap and water to free the glued gnomes, last-minute rescues – but, Dr Watson’s walking stick having a rope and arrow to help escapes…

And, while Juliet has been very bossy, she appreciates more and more than Gnomeo’s love for her. And, Sherlock comes to his senses and apologises to Dr Watson. And as for Moriarty… will he return? (And there is also a guest appearance, courtesy of Mary J. Blige as Irene Adler, but on side this time.)

Very colourful, colourful gnomes, and lots of voices – James McAvoy and Emily Blunt as Gnomeo and Juliet, Chiwitel Ejiofor as a very dignified Dr Watson, Jamie Demetriou as Moriarty – and, rather surprisingly, Sherlock, superior accent and all, Johnny Depp voicing Holmes.

Paramount                                      Released March 29th

Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.

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