5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A most distressing case...,
This review is from: The Hound of the Baskervilles  [DVD] (DVD)
It's easy to tell where this latest version of Conan Doyle's perennial classic goes wrong because so little goes right. There's little fault with the script, which does a decent job of retelling a by now overly familiar tale and even throws in an intriguingly gothic Christmas Eve party for good measure. Some of the supporting performances are fine - John Nettles and Richard E. Grant in particular. But the leads are so very wrong that they sap the life from the thing.
Ian Hart's Watson is surly and obnoxious, all too easily offended and trapped in a deeply distrustful relationship with Holmes. Since Watson has to carry much of the drama, this keeps us at arm's length from involvement, especially since Matt Day is such a dull Baskerville. However, where Hart is a good actor giving a misjudged performance, Richard Roxburgh gives every indication of being a bad actor giving a bad performance. He may not quite be the worst Holmes in the way that he was definitely the worst Dracula (in Van Helsing), but he's certainly the dullest and blandest despite his overstated distance and eccentricities, while the attempt to make him more of an action hero simply ends up making him a very ordinary figure instead. With all displays of Holmes' deductive reasoning dropped (even the famous scene with Dr Mortimer's walking stick is gone), his disguises omitted (he just appears on the moor as if he were still dressed for Baker Street) and his drug use wildly overdone (rather than resorting to narcotics when bored, he even jacks up in a public toilet while working on the case in this version), he's such a blunt bull in a China shop here that rather than pay the cabby for information, he beats him up instead as if he were a 19th century Popeye Doyle.
Although David Attwood's direction throws up the odd good bit of composition, the grotty lighting and perpetual green tint on the original TV broadcast version sap any signs of life before they can bloom. And the less said about the shoddily animated CGi hound the better - despite the impressively populated London street scenes, it's hard to believe that this is probably the biggest budgeted version since Rathbone and Bruce strode the Moor.
The BBC have previously had good luck with the tale - both their Peter Cushing and Tom Baker versions, studio-bound though they were, were more involving in their cosy Sunday teatime way. Sadly, this attempt to bring a more modern aesthetic, while marginally better than the dreadful Peter Cook and Dudley Moore spoof, is nonetheless a very poor show indeed.