Sherlock Holmes and the Temple of Ehtar
Having arrived in London to start at a new school John Watson (Alan Cox) meets fellow pupil Sherlock Holmes (Nicholas Rowe) and is immediately taken by this teenager's wonderful powers of deduction. When Holmes becomes intrigued by a series of suicides his powers of deduction come into great use as he, Watson and love of Sherlock's life Elizabeth (Sophie Ward) start investigating as they uncover the truth behind the deaths and in doing so putting their own lives in danger.
There are a couple of worthwhile facts to know about "Young Sherlock Holmes" starting with the fact that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle didn't write the story, it is a story written by Chris Columbus which gives us an amusing look as to how Holmes and Watson could have first met, as teenagers at a London school. The other fact is that "Young Sherlock Holmes" is a Steven Spielberg production coming the year after he directed "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. That second fact is very important because whilst the first half of "Young Sherlock Holmes" focuses on the friendship between young Holmes and Watson whilst establishing Holmes's legendary skills of deduction the second half ends up being an Indiana Jones style adventure which sees Holmes and Watson battling a bad guy in a pyramid. Whilst it is entertaining to watch Holmes battle to save lives and fight baddies it also feels wrong as it is too similar to Indiana Jones and the intelligence of Holmes solving a mystery is lost.
So as already mentioned "Young Sherlock Holmes" is a movie of two halves with the first half being both interesting and entertaining as Watson arrives in London at a new school and meets the teenage Sherlock Holmes. It is a fun first meeting as we witness young Sherlock at work first by deducing several facts about Watson before then proving his ability in a bet against school rival Dudley. It does get a bit too quirky as we meet other characters including former professor Waxflatter and his flying machine but it is still entertaining. Basically it does a good job of establishing various aspects of Sherlock Holmes which most are familiar with from other movies; from his fighting ability to his sense of fashion.
Now alongside this we of course have the crime for Holmes to solve as we witness several businessmen fall victim to being hit with a poison thorn which causes hallucinations which in turn leads to their demise. And it is good because whilst we have Holmes unravelling the clues, maybe a little too easily, we get treated to some excellent special effects. From coat racks and stain glass windows coming to life to strange creatures attacking these men it most certainly grabs your attention and even now doesn't look too shoddy. Although it has to be said that there is some darkness to all of this and whilst there is nothing gory maybe some elements are too dark for really young children.
Unfortunately there is the other half to "Young Sherlock Holmes" and that is the Egyptian aspect to the story which leads to what is very much like an Indiana Jones action segment as the story culminates and Holmes has to defeat the baddies. Now you expect a bit of adventure and action but because we have this Egyptian element it feels wrong and sort of loses the creativity of the first half as Holmes unravelled the clues and pieces the puzzle together. Of course young children will enjoy this but for me you can almost see Sherlock Holmes being turned into a lite version of Indiana Jones in front of your eyes.
As for the acting well it's okay with both Nicholas Rowe and Alan Cox playing the young Sherlock Holmes and Watson in an enjoyable sort of way, doing a good job of establishing their characters. Although at the same time the actual characters feel a bit wrong with Holmes being a touch too pompous whilst Watson being slightly annoying, not the actors fault but more how the characters have been written. Then there is Sophie Ward who adds a touch of beauty as Elizabeth and whilst he only has a small role as Cragwitch, Freddie Jones and his bellowing thespian voice is excellent.
What this all boils down to is that "Young Sherlock Holmes" is an entertaining movie which conjures up a fun storyline about how Sherlock Holmes and Watson first met. Despite being over 30 years old it still looks great and just as much fun although the second half ends up feeling too much like Indiana Jones lite.