Theatrical Review: Sherlock Holmes

As Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson are closing the case on the nefarious Lord Blackwood, they’re also looking at closing out their own relationship as Watson is about to get married. But seemingly, Lord Blackwood returns from the dead, to hatch his scheme again, and Watson finds himself still tethered to Holmes to deal with this situation…

That’s all I’m going to say about the plot to Sherlock Holmes, the latest attempt to revitalize Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic characters, it’s also the latest film from director Guy Ritchie and uber-producer Joel Silver as he attempts to start another franchise.

To tell the truth, I was a little hesitant to readily see this one. Here’s the deal- I’m actually a fan of Holmes and Watson and read some of Doyle’s stories back in the day. Hell, in high school for my English class, I even did a paper on Holmes complete with comic style illustrations that I did for it (got an A for that paper by the way and even got a little recognition from my teacher for going above and beyond with drawing illustrations for it). On paper, the idea of Guy Ritchie making this movie, with Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson sounds pretty good, but once I started to see some of the trailers for it, I thought it was being turned a little bit into a smart-ass snark-fest, and so wasn’t exactly sold on seeing it. But after reading a few things about it, I was opening up more to it and of course it helped that I got a free ticket to see it as well (thank you Microsoft and the special deal with Best Buy to buy an Xbox 360 Microsoft points card, which I needed anyway).

And even if I didn’t get to see it for for free, I’d still say this: it really is an overall good time at the movies and I’m really surprised at just how much they got right.

After he made RocknRolla, it was a least apparent to me that Guy Ritchie had his “legs” back after a long period of not making a good movie while he was Mr. Madonna, but how would his style translate to what a period piece this was obviously going to be? Well, he actually reins it in a little bit, in comparison to some of his other movies, though there are some cool hyper-kinetic moments in it, but those moments are used to good effect (primarily when Holmes’ mind is at work) and don’t get in the way at all, making for a cleanly told story.

I have to give the writing team a lot of credit here, because they do pay homage to the books a great deal, and I’ll even go so far as to say that if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was alive in this day and age, and creating Holmes for the first time, this is probably closer to the way he’d be written (taking into account audiences tastes today). Also, huge kudos to Hans Zimmer for a very kinetic and violin-heavy music score that really works well in the film’s cool action sequences.

Downey and Law are really good as Holmes and Watson respectively, especially Law as Watson, who usually gets a little short-changed in the process. Downey plays Holmes as though he does have a bit of a disorder to him, but the trade-off is of course with his brilliant powers of deduction and his rapid-fire thought process. The only beef that I have is in some of the private moments with Holmes and Watson (and these are a couple of the moments where there are no other characters in the scene) and the relationship from the two comes off more as a little campy and gay in a small way. Now this isn’t a deal-breaker by any means, and you may not even see it at all, as I know the others that I was with to see this didn’t think that was even there- so your mileage may vary (and mine may change as well, as I see this again in the future). Other nice turns though come from Rachel McAdams and Eddie Marsan as familiar Holmes’ characters Irene Adler and Inspector Lestrade and Mark Strong, playing Lord Blackwood, who’s certainly good here, though not as powerful as he was in RocknRolla.

Really, Sherlock Holmes is a lot of fun and hopefully this will be the start of a new franchise- I have no doubt that Downey and Law will be back for a second, but the people I really hope are part of it are director Guy Ritchie, composer Hans Zimmer and the screenwriters who really made this more fun, even more so than it’s stars (and they do a damn fine job for the most part their own selves. Highly recommended…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

27. December 2009 by Darren Goodhart
Categories: Text Reviews, Theatrical Review | Leave a comment

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