Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sherlock Holmes -- 2009

Sherlock Holmes

 Guy Ritchie

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images and a scene of suggestive material.
My Rating: 3 Stars

Robert Downey, Jr.
Jude Law
Mark Strong
Rachel McAdams
Kelly Reilly
Eddie Marsan

Before I begin, I must admit something: I am a Holmes purist. He is an amazingly imperfect, phenomenally genius literary character that is just right the way he was written. 

I have the highest respect for the quality of this film. But I despise what they have done to Holmes. However, there are others out in the world who have really enjoyed this film and I would bet you're among them. :-) So I hope to encourage you to watch this film for the reasons I appreciate it.


It is interesting that our first impression of Sherlock Holmes is that he is the criminal. Racing ahead of the police; leaping, falling, taking shortcuts that they couldn't. We're upset because we feel the bad guy is getting away and justice has lost again. And then, we see his face. There is only one man who could have that expression. 

Five girls have been murdered through a black magic ritual and Holmes is on his way to stop the madman behind it. He and Watson arrive just in time to save the sixth innocent girl from plunging the knife into her heart. Lord Blackwood's cloak is thrown back and his evil face exposed. But strangely enough, his face bears no expression of sorrow or guilt for what he has done. Instead, there is exultation and triumph.

Even after Lord Blackwood is carted to prison and the girl restored alive to her family, Holmes cannot forget the images of that night. Certainly, Lord Blackwood is safely locked away, awaiting his trial. Watson is even going to be on hand to make sure the man is dead after being hung. but the master detective cannot wipe from his mind the triumphant expression that crossed Lord Blackwood's face. There is something Sherlock Holmes has overlooked and he can smell it through the gunpowder haze in his apartment. (The gunpowder was from his new wall decoration of bullet holes depicting the Queen's initials: VR.)

Then, Irene shows up and the situation suddenly grows into something much more exciting.

What I Liked:
1: I loved the score. It was just right.
2: The way Holmes' mind worked. They really got it down well.
3: How everything is explained in the end and nothing was supernatural.
4: Jude Law was the perfect Watson. I love him in that role.
5: From other movies I have seen and books I have read, the period was well portrayed and factual.
6: You are actually made nervous for the main characters' survival. ;-)
7: The story itself was very well told and would have been wonderful had it not been for the things listed below.
8: I love Watson and Mary.

9: I really enjoyed trying to figure out what was happening and keep a close eye on all the details. Awesome on the details...
10: As a villain, Mark Strong was excellent. He played in the 1995 version of Emma and I really appreciated his performance there, as well.

What I Didn't Like:
1: The entire Irene aspect was the first part of what ruined Holmes for me. He simply wasn't interested in women. By adding Irene to the mix, they made Holmes impossible. He could not have existed the way they portrayed him.
2: Holmes was eccentric and difficult in the books. Watson despaired more than once because of Holmes' personality. But never did Holmes act purposely cruel or petty. To his mind, it was below him.
3: There is a scene where Irene drops her gown (for Holmes' benefit). You only see her back and her shoulders but the implication is there.
4: Holmes wakes up from being drugged and he is naked, handcuffed to the bed with a pillow... also, there is a 'perfectly innocent' comment that makes the maid gasp and flee the room. :-P

Things to Know:
1: Black magic is practiced... Holmes proves that what it accomplished was not supernatural.
2: It can be frightening.
3: People are murdered.

Am I glad I watched it? Yes and no. Yes because it was very well directed and produced. No because they messed with Holmes and added stuff to the story that cheapened it. However, I have only spoken to one other person who did not like this movie and it was another Holmes Purist. So if you are not a Holmes purist and you want to watch an exciting, well done movie, I would recommend it to you. :-)


Melinda said...

I am an avid Holmes fan as well...which is why I haven't watched this movie. After reading some reviews and watching the trailer, it really looked like the movie does not portray Holmes the way Conan Doyle did. Because of that...I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like the movie.

The Ponderer said...

It's rather funny. I didn't realize how much of a purist I was until I watched this movie. I absolutely furious. I really admire the character Sir Conan Doyle created... I love his mind. I love his eccentricities. I love how horrible and lovable he is at once.

However, in spite of getting Holmes 67% wrong (they really did magic with how they portrayed his mind working... that was impressive), they did do a fairly awesome job on the rest of it (minus Irene). :) :)