Gnomeo and Juliet have moved to London with the rest of their plaster of paris friends. However, they arrive to find the gardens of London in an uproar as gnomes are winding up missing. When their friends are taken, the two run into Sherlock Gnomes and his partner Watson who are investigating the mysterious disappearances.
I am never really sure what to say when reviewing the average film. You know how to talk about the good, and you know how to talk about the really bad film, however, when it comes to the films that will just pass the time you are left lost for words.
And so it is with Sherlock Gnomes, whose film quality can be perfectly compared to its title, a mildly amusing pun. There is a distinct lack of character in the film and of emotional resonance. When the hight of animated kids films is Coco and Kubo and The Two Strings, Sherlock Gnomes is sorely lacking. While it is clear that the film is going for something epic in scope, spanning the entirety of London on this high mystery adventure, in execution the film feels empty and small travelling around one overly used London tourist trap after a racial insensitive section located in a Chinese restaurant (even though there was a pretty sweet reference to Monkey: Journey to the West in there).
It is a film that at times feels like a collection of shorts thrown together, powered by some updated version of Elton John numbers and incredibly dated pop songs that I think were only released a couple of months ago. The main plot is a lacklustre story centred on how Johnny Depp is playing the world’s first consulting detective, who is also a garden gnome. He is an interesting character, not regarding his inner machinations, but in terms of how Johnny Depp, who is still getting work no matter how embarrassing it is, and the film take one of the most intelligent and sophisticated figures in English Literature and turn him into a buffoon. One scene is particularly telling where Sherlock proceeds to demonstrate to Juliet how a squirrel wags its tail.
Speaking of Juliet, Emily Blunt and James McAvoy as the “leads” Juliet and Gnomeo are relegated to second fiddle. Even when they do speak it is clear that they have given up on the material as it is painfully obvious that these are just people in a booth voicing a bunch of ones and zeros. Then you have a star-studded cast playing bit parts of one-note characters leaving proceedings feeling unengaging and shallow. I didn’t and have not yet watched the first film so I am unsure of how the relationship was built, but due to the lack of chemistry in this film I am not sure how it ever began in the first place.
This next bit is going to sound like a nitpick but alas I am an animation snob and I feel that I must whine about things that the children this film is aimed at are not going to care about. Firstly character movement, this is obviously the last thing on people’s minds when watching a brightly lit, cartoonishly animated kids’ film, but I had hoped that the movie would use the material that our gnomes are made from to govern their movement, after all the light interacts with them like they are made from clay, why not make them move like clay, and not rubber. There is also a moment during the climax when there are some odd texture movements during the big moment that are quite frankly distracting.
I suppose the parallels between Gnomes/Watson and Gnomeo/Juliet is decent and there are some fine action sequences which will keep children entertained. But there is nothing much to say about Sherlock Gnomes, other than it will be like the drive to and from the cinema. It will happen, time will pass, but you won’t remember it when you get home, because Sherlock Gnomes is as hollow as the characters it is based around.
You can watch Sherlock Gnomes in cinemas now