This BBC production is so far (and I think my opinion won’t change anytime soon) my favourite version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Not sure about the “terrifying new adaption” bit on the cover but – terrifying or not – it was just brilliant.
Richard Roxburgh is a great Sherlock Holmes, a lot grittier than the previous bunch, but what totally made the film for me was Dr. Watson. I loved loved him. He is played by Ian Hart, a name I was not familiar with until I checked and noticed that he played Professor Quirrell in the first Harry Potter movie.
Holmes was as smart as ever, but not nearly as showing off and capricious as we have known him so far. There is no famous deduction scene where he conjures Dr. Mortimer’s whole life and personality from a bloody walking stick and – now that I come to think of it – Mortimer hasn’t even got a dog. They changed a lot of other things as well: there is a séance with Dr. Mortimer’s wife – no doubt an homage to the Basil Rathbone version -, the convict has a violent meeting with Sir Henry in the kitchen and there is a merry Christmas party at Baskerville Hall.
Watson does an autopsy and is generally more able and involved than in earlier movies. He isn’t the usual bumbling idiot, but tough and focused. The relationship between him and Holmes was a bit different, at times he was quite pissed off at Holmes, in the end Holmes lost his trust, and in general their interaction seemed a bit cooler than normally, but I liked that.
I immediately checked whether there is another movie with Ian Hart as Watson and there is one, “Sherlock Holmes and the case of the silk stocking” – unfortunately not with Richard Roxburgh, but with Rupert Everett as Holmes. Hm, maybe not a bad choice. I will definitely have to watch that one, even though there are no evil dogs involved.
Speaking of the dog. The Baskerville dog here is a true computer generated creature from hell, quite different from the usual Great Dane or whatever it is they are using. And the accompanying villain is a great one as well, superbly played by Richard E. Grant.
If you like Baskerville movies and are not a complete stickler for 100% adaptations you just have to watch it. And if you are, you should have a look as well, it might change your mind.
I have read on Amazon that the German edition is an abridged one with a few scenes missing. What a shame! But after watching it I ordered a DVD from the UK to get the full monty.