When I first heard about a Guy Ritchie film of Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. as the incomparable sleuth, I was ecstatic. I remained poised in anticipation right up to the day when I finally saw it. The film was everything I hoped it would be and fans of Doyle’s characters, Downey’s abilities, or Ritchie’s unique style should not hesitate to see it.
The film is set in 19th century London. While the storyline is original, it’s best likened to ‘The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot’ due to its strong supernatural and magical themes. In the film, Lord Blackwood has been sentenced to death for practicing dark magic. But a series of strange and seemingly unexplainable events lead the Blackwood case to be reopened. I don’t want to spoil anything, but rest assured that the plot is more than adequate.
Guy Ritchie’s films have always been characterized by their characters. Bullet Tooth Tony and Boris The Blade are two in particular that leap to mind. So naturally the man is going to do wonders when given a character like Holmes. And while there isn’t as much wiggle room for the madcap insanity of Lock Stock and Snatch, Ritchie succeeds in putting his comedic thumbprint on the film without compromising the atmosphere of the original Doyle creations.
Perfectly complementing Ritchie’s directorial skills is the incomparable talent of Robert Downey Jr., who portrays Holmes with refreshing vigor and eccentricity. While not as good as Jeremy Brett’s portrayal, Downey succeeds in creating a more raucous and blunt Holmes whose antics are a joy to watch. It’s also worth mentioning that there is no mention of Holmes’ opiate addiction in the film, though considering the fact that it sets up a sequel, we might be seeing the detective in a darker place when Part II comes around.
Alongside Holmes there is, of course, Watson. Unlike in classic screen interpretations of the duo where Watson follows Holmes with canine-like obedience and loyalty, Jude Law’s Watson has a mind of his own, which increases the depth of the character and the relationship.
There are also two love interests that might seem shoe-horned in to devotees of the Holmes series. One is Watson’s betrothed, whose presence threatens the relationship of the good doctor and Holmes, and the other is Irene Adler, a criminal and de facto femme fatale who predictably manipulates Holmes & his affections. While both characters add to their respective male counterparts, some might find it unsettling in the same way that it would be unsettling for James Bond to be married.
The long and short of it is that Robert Downey Jr. is not to be missed. He’s one of the finest actors in film today and his portrayal of Holmes is no less enjoyable to watch than any of his other roles. The writing is sharp and witty, the action sequences are high-octane but not outlandish, and the mystery is intriguing. It’s everything you want from a modern Sherlock Holmes movie.
11 thoughts on “Sherlock Holmes Review”
The scenes between Law’s Watson (the best ever) and Downey Jr.’s Holmes is the whole reason to watch this film. Some of the banter even reaches House/Watson territory…which is an exceptional feat considering Dr. House has out-Sherlocked Sherlock.
You mean House/Wilson territory.
And while House is cool, I think that Jeremy Brett’s Holmes is the best.
I just watched it for Robert Downey Jr. I absolutely love him.
Crap, all this time comparing the two formats and I mess up the character names…don’t I feel embarrassed.
I’ve never read any books about Sherlock Holmes, and the only references to the material I’m familiar with come from other media (e.g., when Data and Jordi play Holmes & Watson in the Enterprise’s holodeck). That said, I had this preconceived idea about Holmes being an arrogant know-it-all, and Watson being a dope.
I was really pleased to see the two characters were more like partners than hero & sidekick in the movie. While Holmes is still the main hero, Watson really holds his own, and Holmes even has a heavy reliance on him. I think it made both characters very likable, and very believable.
Overall, I thought the movie had great action and pacing, and good character development. I’ll definitely see the sequel when it comes out.
But the ending begs the question: who to play Moriarty? I think that Alan Cumming would do a fantastic job. Plus, he totally deserves it ’cause he’s never really had that many film roles worthy of his talent.
But in terms of Moriarty…Hugh Laurie (^_^)? I’d also love to see Rufus Sewell get some attention that he’s needed for some time now.
Not exactly a spoiler. Anyone who knows anything about Sherlock Holmes is familiar with Professor Moriarty.
Yeah. Like that time he became self aware and tried to take over the Enterprise, but Picard tricked him into thinking he had left the holodeck, but he was still really in it. That crazy Moriarty.
I thought it was a good flick. Downey was good, Garcia does a great job as Blackwood, but it was Law’s performance that really won me over. I could have done without Holmes’s love interest, which is the only thing I didn’t like about the movie.
Looks like a great movie… but the fact alone that it has Rachel McAdams in it, almost entirely justifies watching this.
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