Sequels have a hard task.
They have to provide something fresh and new, without eliminating the things audiences loved about the original film.
They must tread the line between innovation and exploitation, between giving viewers a captivating new story in the style they loved and capitalising on their fervour for the first film.
Sherlock Gnomes has walked that line and neither blown audiences away or alienated them completely.
Sequel to the utterly charming 2011 film Gnomeo and Juliet – which, as the name might suggest, transported the familiar tale of Romeo and Juliet to two adjoining front yard populated by Montague and Capulet gnomes, backed by Elton John music – Sherlock Gnomes mixes characters from two classic works.
Enigmatic detective Sherlock Holmes (now Gnomes) and his offsider Dr Watson join the star-crossed lovers to solve a baffling mystery.
Gnomes are disappearing from their gardens across London, and only the detective can figure out what’s happened to them.
The filmmakers have done a pretty impressive job of fusing the two quite unrelated literary worlds together – as gnomes – for this kids’ movie.
Like the first film, which was chock-full of Shakespearean references for the Romeo and Juliet geeks, the latest offering manages to fit in all sorts of Sherlock Holmes easter eggs.
From classic personality traits, to iconic cases and memorable characters – like Moriarty and Irene Adler – even those who are barely familiar with Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation will be sure to recognise some of the references.
That being said, what the film fails to do is live up to the novelty of its predecessor – which is only to be expected.
Elton John’s music is also not used as well as it was in Gnome and Juliet.
The voice cast is top-notch, with James McAvoy (Split) and Emily Blunt (Looper) returning as Gnomeo and Juliet, Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean) stepping into Sherlock’s shoes and Chewitel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) as Watson.
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey), Michael Caine (Inception), Ozzy Osbourne (of Black Sabbath), Matt Lucas (Little Britain) and Mary J Blige (Mudbound) also lend their vocals to the film.