Monday, January 25, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

I'd read enough about Sherlock Holmes to know that it wasn't exactly canonical and that some Holmes fans weren't pleased with it. I went, anyway, because it looked like fun. Having seen it, I can say that I had a pretty good time. Judy, on the other hand, didn't. She thought it was "slow," and the herky-jerky action sequences gave her a headache.

The biggest problem the movie has is the plot. It's ridiculous. Mainly it's and excuse to hang a lot of action scenes on, and there are plenty of those. I don't think you can find their equivalent in any of Doyle's stories, which are a good bit quieter and more contemplative. Not that they lack action. There's action in plenty of them. It's just not the kind of action that's in this movie. At least one of the scenes (in a smoke-filled room) was completely unnecessary. Holmes "learns" something that he already knew. We see a nice cat-and-mouse game and a cool escape, but the scene does nothing at all to further the story.

As for the characters, it seemed to me that the writers and director took things that were mentioned in passing in the stories and exaggerated them considerably (Holmes's boxing skills, his martial arts ability, his untidiness, etc.). I suppose this was necessary to ramp up the action, but it wasn't true to the spirit of the stories. That being said, I thought Robert Downey, Jr., was terrific as Holmes, as was Jude Law as Dr. Watson. Rachel McAdams was very pretty as Irene Adler. The CGI version of Victorian London looked great.

Guy Ritchie likes the kind of ending where things are summed up with flashbacks to the action, showing us things we might have noticed and explaining them. the technique worked pretty well in Sherlock Holmes context, I thought.

If there's a sequel, I'll probably be there. Judy probably won't.


  1. Anonymous8:46 AM

    Hate Guy Ritchie, but Jackie loves Robert Downey so I'm sure we'll see it.


  2. My thoughts about the movie were almost identical. I also thought that Lestrade was the character truest to Doyle.

  3. I should have mentioned Eddie Marsan as Lestrade. I thought he was very good.

  4. Pretty much what I expected, and in my opinion another reason not to see it, or at least not in a theater. Thanks for the review.

  5. Rick, I have a feeling that the sequel will go even farther afield.

  6. Well, I liked it. It had enough to do with Doyle to satisfy me, and was very stylish. I am not a Guy Ritchie fan, but this worked well as a 21st century reboot of Holmes. Downey and Law were excellent. The plot was an excuse to hang the trappings on, I will grant you.

    My favorite Holmes remains Jeremy Brett, but have a long list of others (with Rathbone at the head of it) that I have enjoyed.Ian Richardson's version is little known but quite good (and he did well as Bell, too, in the MURDER ROOMS series).

  7. I grew up with Rathbone, but I'm willing to watch Downey in just about anything. I've liked several Ritchie movies, but I'm easy.

  8. If you're going to transform Sherlock Holmes into an action hero, this is about as good as it's going to get. A traditional Holmes would have bombed. There's just no audience for it.