Sunday, July 14, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Sherlock: The Hounds of Baskerville (2012) ****

TV-14, 90 min.
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writers: Mark Gatiss (also creator), Steven Moffat (creator), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (works)
Starring: Benedict Cuberbatch, Martin Freeman, Russell Tovey, Amelia Bullmore, Clive Mantle, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Scott, Simon Paisley Day, Sasha Behar, Stephen Wight, Gordon Kennedy, Kevin Trainor

“The Hound of the Baskervilles” is probably the most well known of Sherlock Holmes’ casebook. It’s certainly one of the most frequently filmed. It’s also the one that borders on horror. I watched the 1959 version with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as Holmes several years ago for my annual Horrorfest. The update for the series “Sherlock”, relettered to read “The Hounds of Baskerville”, lives up to every previous version. Although, there’s still only one hound, so I don’t know why either word is pluralized.

In this version, Baskerville is a military base where it is suspected that gene-altering experiments are taking place, and the rumor is that one of its experiments has escaped and is terrorizing a nearby village. Government conspiracy and a man theorizing that his father was killed by some sort of devil creature seems all a little fantastical for this modern Sherlock; but as usual, in the telling of the story he hears something that allows his to form a theory that intrigues him. There are also some very funny moments during Sherlock’s initial interview of the victim regarding smoking.

Mark Gatiss’s script does a wonderful job of working in all the elements they’ve been building on in the series as a whole in the way Sherlock uses his brother to get into the military facility, with Sherlock’s obsession with Moriarty, and mostly in the solidification of the friendship that has been building between Sherlock and Watson. The story is also uniquely refurbished to this series while still retaining all the essential elements of Doyle’s original “Baskervilles” story. As a fan, this telling is original enough that you can enjoy it as both an original and a retelling of one of Sherlock’s most unique mysteries. 

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