Saturday, 6 March 2010

Copycat criminals

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That may be the case, but low budget movie studio 'The Asylum' seems to be taking it to 'Single White Female' levels of imposter-y preposterousness.

For the last ten years, they've been taking advantage of those bewitched, bothered and bewildered souls who aimlessly wander the aisles of Blockbuster with all the critical faculties of Paul Ross on an all-expenses-paid studio jolly.

Pretty much every successful movie of the last few years has found itself inadvertently spawning a mutated twin, courtesy of those industrious inmates of The Asylum. The main difference, of course, being the budgets involved. One of Asylum's biggest hits was the awesome 'Transmorphers', which looks as though it was shot for less than the cost of Megan Fox's cut-offs in Michael Bay's significantly spendier 'Transformers'.

Rather cannily, these 'mockbusters' seem to make much of their money on the opening weekend of whatever movie they're ripping off. If they can get the artwork close enough to the original, the dilated pupils of the drunk and stoned DVD renters won't be able to tell the difference.

Sadly, the illusion doesn't hold up once 'play' has been pressed. Since the films are rushed into production in order to beat their bigger budget counterparts to market, the stories have to be cobbled together based on what the producers can pick up on the industry grapevine.

It's not all bad news though - every once in a while a big movie gets made that's based on readily available material, meaning the Asylum team can go back to the source and actually have a stab at a coherent narrative.

At least, that's how it's supposed to work in theory. But having watched the trailer for the studio's new take on Sherlock Holmes, I'm wondering just how familiar the writers are with the adventures of Baker Street's debonair detective.

Now, I'm not fully au fait with the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but I don't recall ever seeing Jeremy Brett battling a T-Rex in the houses of Parliament, or Basil Rathbone defending London Bridge from being attacked by a giant squid. And I'm pretty sure there were no flying mechanical dragons in 'The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet'.

When Guy Ritchie's version of the classic adventures hit screens last Christmas, the estate of Conan Doyle got all worked up about the relationship between Holmes and Watson. They were concerned that Sherlock might take to smoking a pipe of the fleshy variety.

So what they'll make of their precious character being rewritten as a mash-up of Turok and Captain Nemo remains to be seen...

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