Sherlock Holmes, an iconic literature/media character who forever scoped our ideas of English crime solving. Portrayed in various forms, the entity of this crime solver continues to entertain the masses and provide a media outlet that is not only entertaining, but brainteasing. Yet, I’ve never seen the iconic detective portrayed as a…garden gnome. No, you didn’t misread my friends, this weekend the English detective has transformed into a moveable garden gnome in today’s review of Sherlock Gnomes, the great detective has been downsized to London’s gardens attempting to uncover the secret behind the abducted gnomes and bring piece back to the neighborhood they share. What will be the verdict of this adventure? As always, please read to find out my thoughts on the latest movies to hit the big screen.
Fun: This sequel to Gnomeo and Juliet is very energetic and full of fun gimmicks to entertain. The kid friendly atmosphere of the film is vibrant and full of color, while the references to a number of movies, shows, and other older themes keep the adult population in check. A quick pace and lots of quips also help keep the thrills coming and help one pay attention through the whole adventure.
Clever: Fortunately, the British trend of clever comedy and storytelling carry in to this animated feature. For one thing the adventure is well-designed, with a direction that combined the mystery of the BBC series with the imagination of Disney. Seeing the clues cleverly hidden, the various cultures represented at each clue sight, and even the character relationships of Holmes are captured in the various sequences of the film. Integrate the relationships from Gnomeo and Juliet, and the cleverness takes another turn down respectable levels. As for the humor, it is balance of slapstick-childish antics and dry wit that expand across all audiences.
Voice Acting: While the animation is a treat on the eyes, it’s the voice acting that really brings the characters to the full life. Emily Blunt and James McAvoy do a bang up job playing the star crossed lovers, and Julio Bonet as Mankini is just as delightful, though not as prominent as he was in the first installment. Yet it is Chiwetel Ejiofor and Johnny Depp who really hold the center stage in this movie. Both men held all the mannerisms and prestige in their voice work, while solidifying the relationship felt between the two garden gnome detectives. I could feel the tension between them and picture these two as a live version adaptation in the future should they decide to make it.
The Music: Finally, the same beats from the first film return in that toe tapping, move in your seat manner that the little one’s love. Mostly covers of the great Sir Elton John’s work, Sherlock Gnomes sequences get a little more energy from the song director’s choices and I quite enjoyed the extra kick you got from these upbeat songs (that for once did not result in a dance number).
Character Usage: Saw this coming, but Gnomeo and Juliet suffers from not utilizing all the characters well. Most of the new characters get their decent share of screen time, but the veteran characters have fallen victim to a few silly moments, with Mankini being the only cameo I really enjoyed. While the new characters do need the development, Sherlock Gnomes needed to almost forgo most of the other characters to avoid this dislike for me.
Predictable: The movie may be entertaining, but it is predictable to say the least. Disney has proven the masters of throwing in that heart stopping twist, but Sherlock Gnomes apparently falls victim to reason and intellect to let this happen. So, I was a little disappointed to not have a few more twists thrown in to give it some more suspense.
More Elton: One of my favorite things of Gnomeo and Juliet is the music from the Captain of the Keys Sir Elton John. So why in the world would they limit their track to one original song? Obviously merchandising and budget, but I would have loved more of the knighted performers tunes filling the screen instead of just the covers that came about.
More Adventure: Normally I’m thrilled for a short run time, but this movie was one that needed a little more to really maximize the movie. Each of the obstacles/clues could have gone more in depth, as they passed through the obstacles quite easily. Instead, the movie blew through the obstacles very quickly, giving little time to capitalize on the mystery/adventurous aspect. In addition, adding a little darker edge would have won some more brownie points to help develop the mystery.
The Mary J. Blige song: Respect to the artist for her performance is on spot, but in the movie…it doesn’t work for me outside of merchandising. The song tries to alliterate on what could be a good character developing role, but they go nowhere with this thereby further making this song irrelevant. And of all the obstacles that stood in Sherlock’s way, this was the one that took the most time. Again, had they taken this component further, it may have won more points for me.
Sherlock Gnomes is one of the more fun, kid adventures I’ve been on in a long, long time. It’s got a nice balance of comedy that fits well with the adventure and a soundtrack that further pumps up the volume of detective fun in this crazy sequel. Despite all the balance this movie has though, it still needed some work in character integration and expanding on the adventure element of the film. Don’t get too caught up wanting to root for your favorite characters from the first film, unless they were the titular characters. Otherwise give this film a try and get out there with the family to see it.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 6.5