Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $19.98 US
Running Time: 110 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
The game is afoot but it’s not without its technical problems and weak plot elements.
Anyone who has ever picked up a Case Closed manga or watched the anime series and its movies know that young sleuth Jimmy Kudo has always been so inspired by the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that he named himself after the author of the Sherlock Holmes novels after Jimmy was transformed into a child. In a nod to Sherlock Holmes, Conan and his friends find themselves chasing none other than Jack the Ripper in Holmes’ London in Case Closed Movie: The Phantom of Baker Street.
If this sounds farfetched, I don’t blame you but allow me to explain.
You see, after the divorce of his parents, a ten-year old boy genius named Hiroki Sawada is living in the United States under the care of Thomas Schindler – the president of a major technology company. Unfortunately, Schindler has cut Hiroki off from the world around him and put him to work on a major project that makes use of the boy’s inventions … one of which is a functional AI brain he calls Noah‘s Ark. One night, though, Hiroki – tired of being a Schindler’s slave – decides to take drastic measures by jumping off the building’s top level.
Two years later, Thomas Schindler has gathered the press and the children of Japan’s politicians as well as the wealthy to try the company’s new tech toy … a virtual reality game that is the most realistic to date. Require its players to enter a cocoon, the game is the hottest ticket and Conan and his young friends in the Junior Detective League know it. Unfortunately, the kids aren’t invited to play and a group of snobby kids rub it in their faces.
However, when Schindler goes to talk to a man that wants answers about Hiroki’s suicide, the man winds up getting stabbed. With what little strength he has left before he died, the man typed three words on a computer keyboard. Once again, Meguire shows up but so does a person we don’t get to see very often … Booker Kudo, Jimmy/Conan’s father. Having written the virtual reality game’s story with Doctor Agasa, Daddy Kudo takes control of investigating Schindler while his son decides to jump into the game thanks to the clue left behind by the victim.
Along with Rachel and the Junior Detective League, Conan enters the game’s virtual reality cocoon but the moment all the players are locked into the egg-like chambers, Hiroki’s program – Noah’s Ark – kicks in and reveals its master plan that talks of how unfair it is that Japan’s future is automatically passed down from parent to their children. So Noah’s Ark begins a deadly game where players deaths take them out of the game but if every player is dead it’s game over for real. Selecting the Jack the Ripper scenario, Conan and the others find themselves in London and – to top it all off – find out that Sherlock Holmes is in this version of London.
Unfortunately, Sherlock Holmes and Watson aren’t home. Why even mention them if they don’t even show up at all? Instead, the group interacts with familiar Holmes’ characters like Professor Moriarty, Colonel Moran and even Sherlock’s love interest. There are gunfights and Conan’s companions begin dropping like flies until he and one of the rich snobs are left to solve the mystery behind the identity of Jack the Ripper. I won’t spoil the mystery but the theory about Jack the Ripper’s identity is simply unconvincing.
Then again, the virtual reality game itself isn’t that convincing either but, strangely enough, it’s the movie’s biggest highlight when Conan and his companions enter the London scenario. Alas, it takes a lot of setup to get there so you have to sit through a preachy point about Japan’s future. Still, there are good moments scattered throughout and it is a nice rarity to see Booker Kudo solving the murder. Meanwhile, there’s just something cool about seeing Conan’s friends making sacrifices … one of which involves a surprisingly emotional sacrifice by Rachel.
Unfortunately, The Phantom of Baker Street isn’t the best of the Case Closed movies, which is too bad seeing as the movie does get more exciting when the game actually does begin. Still, despite a few memorable scenes and a surprising mystery at the end, young Conan has seen better moments and solved more convincing mysteries than this one. Case Closed fans might want to rent this one, instead.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
After the suicide of a technological whiz kid, a new kind of game based on the boy’s design is being showcased exclusively with the kids of Japan’s rich and powerful as test subjects. Yet when a man is murdered during the event, Conan and his friends enter the game’s virtual world to solve the real mystery behind the murder and to save the lives of the children trapped in the game.
VIDEO QUALITY: C
The animation is true to the Case Closed series but you would think the production values would be a lot better than this considering it is a movie. For starters, the ugly gray box that appears occasionally is an eyesore.
AUDIO QUALITY: C+
The best way to watch this movie is watching it with the original Japanese voices that do a great job. The English dub isn’t all bad but this voice cast has done better in the past and the score often feels out of place throughout.
There are no real extras to be found here except for a few trailers so don’t expect much in this department.
The Phantom of Baker Street simply doesn’t hit the target in terms of bringing us a mystery that is worthy of our little sleuth and, as far as the movies are concerned, this is one of the weakest entries in the Case Closed movies. A few cool moments aside, one truth does not prevail in this one and it will surely disappoint Conan’s biggest fans.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment