Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes

Sorcery’s afoot in top hat era London. The evil dead may be rising, and in this particular undead’s wake, a pile of bodies seems to be adding up. With police baffled, the public terrified, and secret societies lurking in the background, who can we turn to for answers? Elementary, my dear readers. Sherlock Holmes, of course.

But let me say, Sherlock Holmes may not be exactly what you pictured. An explosive, fast-paced adventure through merry old England awaits, with our host of characters having undergone a bit of change in their lives since we last read about them. Holmes, played by award-winner Robert Downey Jr., has gotten a bit surly since his partner Watson (Jude Law) has gotten engaged, threatening to leave him alone in his quaint old townhouse forever after (oh, say it isn’t so!). Throw in the untimely return of an old fling (see: The one who got away), and you’ve set yourself up with a colorful cast eager to entertain.

What this movie definitely has is character. The cast is a list of fine actors in their own right, but the real pleasure is watching them work together. Downey and Law have real chemistry on screen. They work well together, compliment one another’s personalities, and leave you with the genuine feel of two age-old friends, weary with one another’s flaws, but happily playing through their tribulations with wit and charm. McAdams also entertains in her role as Holmes’ troublesome love interest. She is an adorable minx, at once alluring and deceptive, well-meaning but often taxing—she knows how to make a playful thief.  Then, of course, you have Mark Strong as the “sorcerous,” booming-voiced Lord Blackwood,  ever the excellent antagonist, to make the perfect foil to Holmes—matching magic to his logic, deception to his knowledge, and raw power to his inquisition.

Oddly enough, though, one of the biggest critiques I’ve heard of the movie is that it doesn’t follow the stories closely enough. Excuse me for calling this one out, but have any of the people saying this actually read the stories? Most of them, for the most part, would consist of two hours of watching two middle-aged bachelor roommates sitting around their townhouse smoking pipes and pondering the nature of their work. Good for a read, but you’re not going to entertain a viewing audience that way.

This movie is an action piece, and it pulls it off well, as any Guy Ritchie flick should. The story may not be the strongest in the world—evil man wants power, seeks to subvert British Empire to his whim by killing lots of people. Oh yes, and those naughty “colonies,” well, we’ll get those back too while we’re at it. And admittedly, things are destined to get a bit over the top—notably through a certain little duel at the top of Tower Bridge and the classically entertaining Ritchie-brand slow-mo scenes.

But Guy Ritchie’s skill lies in making things “cool.” And there, I feel, he succeeds. Holmes is a bit of a dick, but he’s a charming, intellectual dick—and one which, in Ritchie’s world, is also apparently an excellent bare-knuckle brawler. The actions scenes are well-done and the whole movie manages a consistent flow of entertainment that, while it won’t have you on the edge of your seat, will also not leave you wanting. Detective elements, mingled with traces of the authentic Holmes’s personality stream through over the course of the movie, with cameos from numerous characters of the series proper, but the focus is distinctly on the action, so purists of the Doyle crowd are probably going to be turned off. But as an action movie, it’s good—and it makes for a revitalizing twist to an old series for a new generation.

And word is: there’s sequels on the way. After all, it seems to be the Hollywood mantra these days. If it makes the bucks, you keep ‘em coming.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

~ by Chris G. on January 10, 2010.

One Response to “Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes”

  1. Good points, I think I will definitely subscribe! I’ll go and read some more! What do you see the future of this being?

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