Friday, January 22, 2010

Holmes Sweet Holmes

movie review

Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong
Director: Guy Ritchie

Just so I'd have someone to discuss the film with, I bugged a friend into watching the new Sherlock Holmes flick that was released late last month, asking him to tell me what he thought about it, start to finish… and that's exactly what he did: "What the hell," he messaged me as the film began, "he has martial arts skills. This can't be good!", eventually summing up the movie as "Star Wars meets Van Damme meets Sherlock Holmes". I respect his assessment, of course, but I'd have to disagree; I found it to be more Batman and Robin meets Scooby Doo by way of Dan Brown. If nothing else, that combination suggests big bucks at the box office, but the response from viewers, as you'd probably guess, has been mixed.

In his 2009 escapade, Mr. Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) finds himself on a mission to stop black-magic practitioner Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) as he plans to take over England and then the entire world, while suffering from separation anxiety as Dr. Watson (Jude Law) plans to marry and settle down. But throughout the two hours of the film that ensues, it becomes more than clear that the beloved detective has been reimagined as an action hero. Yes, the newfangled Holmes is still smitten with Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) and yes, he plays the violin and smokes a pipe (the deerstalker has been replaced by a beat-up fedora), but not only does he posses the fighting skills of Conan Doyle's Holmes, he seems to spend more time exchanging punches than he does making deductions. While action fans might find this change appealing, it may not go down well with those who thought of Sherlock Holmes as someone who is more likely to use brains over brawn, and purists, especially, could be miffed.

So that might explain why Guy Ritchie's take on Sherlock Holmes has received comments as varied as "no wonder Madonna left him" to "it will make Madonna jealous". From a neutral viewpoint that does not take the former Mrs. Ritchie into consideration, though, the film is neither an unmitigated disaster, nor is it anything akin to a masterpiece. This simply is a revisionist view of a classic character, and what you make of it will largely come down to you, the viewer. But no matter which of the two factions you fall into, the thing you are still likely to enjoy about the movie is watching Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in action, both of whom deserve an A+ for acting. Overall, though, the film seems longer than it needed to be and it could've certainly done with a better storyline. Oh and my friend thinks it didn't seem to have anything to do with Sherlock Holmes other than the name. "Why do they always have to make movies to fit the American audience?," he typed in frustration. Elementary, my dear comrade; it's all about the money.

- By Sam

Us Magazine, The News - 22 January, 2010

No comments: