Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ten Statements About....SHERLOCK HOLMES (2009)

"...and then I'm going to build a bigger armored suit and kick
your ass."
1) As nervous as I was about the way the trailers portrayed Robert Downey's Holmes, I am glad that Jude Law's portrayal of Watson reclaims the character from the intelligence drain Nigel Bruce put on him. John Watson in the Doyle stories was a military man who was very physical and intelligent in his own right, and Law captures that version to a t.

2) There is never anything wrong with Rachel MacAdams in a white blouse, suspenders, clunky high-heeled boots and tight tweed trousers. Nothing.

3) Downey's version of the character is not as 'Action Holmes' as I feared, but does have his own strange quirkiness. There is a definite echo of Tony Stark in Downey's Holmes, but he does manage to spin the detective in a unique direction.

What does it say about me that I find Rachel McAdams
sexier here than when she's in a dress?
4) I give the script points for making a decided effort to place this adventure at a very specific point in Holmes' career. The presence of certain characters anchors the story and gives it a bit more gravitas.

5) Mark Strong's villain, Lord Blackwood, is pretty much a generic bad guy...until you realize he's not the real bad guy...and the real bad guy contributes to grounding the story in the Doyle continuity.

6) Even though the film flirts strongly with supernatural and psychic phenomenon, I was relieved to find that the ultimate solution is grounded in plain ol' regular science. Granted, it's Steampunk-y science--but since I'm a steampunk freak, I'm good with that. However...

7) ...even though we get a scene where Holmes explains how all the supernatural elements were nothing more than 'conjurer's tricks,' and even though director Guy Ritchie takes pains to show us each of the 'clues' that Sherlock picked up, there's still a strong feeling that the film isn't interested in playing fair with its mystery.

"That's right....something for the laaadies."
8) The way Ritchie does this thing where he walks us through Holmes' thoughts as he is in combat, then rewinds to show us the same scene in real time is fascinating, and thankfully is only done a handful of times, being gone before it gets old.

9) I rather like Hans Zimmer's score, which seems to only use instruments that are contemporary to the time.

10) Even though it does move at a fair clip, there is a point about midway through where the film just draaaaaags. Maybe if Ritchie had shaved fifteen, twenty minutes off its running time it might have flowed better.

In short...there's a lot to like here, but I don't know if it's the kind of thing that will generate the sort of buzz Warner Brothers hoped it would.

Incidentally, there was an endless stream of trailers before the film, including ones for Iron Man 2(and yes, the moment where Tony and Rhodey are back to back and lower their faceplates as one still makes me squeal like a little girl), Date Night (a more-promising-than-I-expected action comedy featuring Tina Fey and Steve Carrell--although the funniest line in the trailer comes from a skanked-out Mila Kunis), the Kevin Smith directed Cop Out (Bruce Willis and Sean William-Scott? What's not to love?) and an absolutely ludicrious looking film called Season of The Witch, where Nicolas Cage tries to convince us he's a 12th Century Templar--but it's a sign of goodness being rewarded when you see that Ron Perlman gets second billing.

But the trailers paled next to walking into the Regal Atlas and being confronted with one of those massive oversized displays that's half-poster, half-standee for a film called When In Rome that featured a ten foot tall picture of the beloved Kristen Bell smiling and biting one nail. I actually considered asking the manager to put that display aside for me once they were done to it...but then common sense kicked in and I realized just how creepy I would come off if I did so.


  1. Hey Tom,

    I'm a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and am glad that you are too. Or at least I assume so. Though not the definitive Holmes, I loved this movie as it portrayed the idea of Holmes very nicely. I was wondering, have you seen the Jeremy Brett TV series and if so, what do you think of his portrayal?


  2. I haven't seen the Brett series in a long time, but I do recall liking them a tremendous amount.

  3. I'm almost through the second season and Brett never fails to amaze.