John Stevenson – widely admired for his work on Kung Fu Panda – directs Sherlock Gnomes, the sequel to 2011 animated hit Gnomeo and Juliet. We are reacquainted with familiar faces and introduced to the garden ornament versions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary crime-solving double act: the titular Sherlock Gnomes and his sidekick, Watson.
A detailed knowledge of the prequel is inessential, although once more the film is centred around the besotted couple. The Shakespearean lovers and their friends and family are moved to the capital, where a clutch of gardens are being mysteriously robbed of all their gnomes, a case that comes to the attention of “the sworn protector of London’s gnomes”, the eponymous Baker Street detective.
Johnny Depp puts in the bare minimum in a monotonous vocal rendition of the private investigator, a far cry from the eccentricity he brought to Rango – although, in fairness, an extremely talented cast is left with little to work with from a hollow script. The film goes through the motions, sticking aggressively to the tried and tested format of legion detective capers.
This movie suffers from an existential crisis: there’s really very little point to it, and it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if we learned that the feature’s title was the sole starting point of development, such a pun being too irresistible for the creators to pass up.
There are some twists and turns – as with all Sherlock stories – as well as a bromance, some romance and a cackling, crazed villain to boot, but these all contrive to feel undeveloped and quite empty.
Children familiar with the previous film’s story will enjoy catching up with the relationship of Gnomeo and Juliet as it blossoms into a devoted marriage with the attendant struggles and reconciliation. Chiwetel Ejiofor puts in a spirited performance as Watson, but, in spite of his efforts, he cannot will a spirit into this quite lifeless animation.
Sherlock Gnomes is released nationwide on 11th May 2018.
Watch the trailer for Sherlock Gnomes here: