True Crime Exposure

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

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Review written by Deathstalker.

Guy (Former Mr. Madonna) Ritchie directs this newest film based on the titular character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Well, I watched this movie today. I am coming down with bronchitis so I was not feeling that great and it took away quite a bit of the enjoyment I might have gotten from this film. With that said, I will as always review the film as objectively and fairly as possible.

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Starring Robert Downey Jr. (who has had more lucky comebacks from drugs than my uncle) as the films titular protagonist and Jude Law as his ever faithful sidekick Dr. Watson, our story begins with our heroes tracking down Lord Blackwood (played by Mark Strong) and successfully stopping him from completing a human sacrifice. Blackwood is deemed guilty by Scotland Yard and sentenced to hang until he is dead, dead, dead! null Blackwood (who for all the world looks like the “Gentleman from Providence” H.P. Lovecraft) warns Holmes that he will come back from the dead and continue in his devious ways! True to his word, Blackwood breaks out of his crypt and continues his killings. From here, the game is afoot!

Having only a passing knowledge of Sherlock Holmes from a story I read in middle school, a couple mystery games I played as a kid, and recently watching the newer Hallmark movies, I can not say how true this is to the source material. However, I’d make an educated guess as to saying yes and no. The characters are revamped for modern audience. null Sherlock still lives at 221B Baker St., there is a Prof. Lestrade, and several denouement monologues/montages of Holmes explaining the solution to the mysteries. Holmes dreaded antagonist Professor James Moriarty makes a cameo appearance that comfortably sets him up to be the antagonist of the sequel. The methodical mind of Holmes is fully on display here, and is as always, in top form. However some changes come in the look and relationship of the characters. Holmes is a lean, mean, fighting machine that can break you down in his mind seconds before doing so with his fists. Watson also has a make over. Instead of being a portly, stuffy, English chap, he is Jude Law. Another staple of the original stories, The Baker Street Irregulars, fail to make an appearance during the film. There are also love interests for both protagonists, something I have not seen before in a Sherlock Holmes movie.

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The acting is uniformly solid, and for the most part the plot is as well. There are a couple things I thought made little sense (a scene involving smoke comes to mind), some of the action is too over the top, and there is no real sense of urgency or suspense in the plot until the last act. Be that as it may the look of the film is amazing. Guy Ritchie does a fantastic job at capturing the dark and foreboding majesty of 1800′s Europe. A lot of attention to detail went into the set designs which helps sell the viewer on the world the characters inhabit. As far as movies go, you can do a lot worse than this film, but unless you are dying to see it I’d say it’s a rental at best. That could be due to the mood I was in while watching it and almost falling asleep in the theater (something that never happens). Neither of those things can be blamed strictly on the film since the amount of sleep I got last night was equal to that of the film’s duration. You can certainly do worse as far as films go, but if you are a Holmes purist, I think you might be somewhat disappointed much like Guy Ritchie is in his elderly ex-wife’s choices in men.

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5 responses

  1. Lazlo

    Thank you Deathstalker. I am a huge fan of Holmes. This review has gone a long way to lower my expectations, and perhaps make it all the more enjoyable. I absolutely detest the Lord of the Rings for its detours from the text, and knowing up front may save this film from the same fate.

    I don’t understand why these Hollywood types feel they can write a better story that the masters who crafted classics that have stood the test of time. Hubris and rot!

    December 28, 2009 at 3:03 pm

  2. Sounds like a possible rental or better yet, catching it some Sunday years from now when there’s nothing else on TV!

    Thanks for the review Deathstalker. Sorry you’ve been sick.

    December 28, 2009 at 6:45 pm

  3. Lazlo, I can understand the changes that were made in the LOTR movies, except for Boromir being a jackass. That was stupid and served no real purpose. Do you have the extended versions of them? If not, watch them, as they contain a great deal of footage not scene in the theatrical releases that pertain to the books. They really did put a lot of time and effort into creating the world of Middle Earth and doing the best they could as a straight adaptation, I think. Sadly, there is still no Tom Bombadillo.

    As for Sherlock Holmes, please keep in mind that my literary knowledge concerning him is very limited, so therefore it’s a bit unfair for me to say that the adaptation isn’t true to the source. For instance, there is a scene where Holmes is in a boxing match. I thought this was tacked on to make Holmes more of an action hero type. However, I watched a silent film version of Sherlock Holmes on TCM last night, and it spoke about how he excelled in boxing. So it seems I was wrong in my assumption, both literary and film versions are in top physical condition.

    If anything, you should watch the movie and write up your own review to compare and contrast.

    December 29, 2009 at 12:02 am

  4. Lazlo

    The problem with the LOTR series is not what they left out – that is understandable. It is what they made up that irritates me.

    And although I have not read absolutely everything written by Conan Doyle about Holmes, I don’t recall him being an action hero given to feats of strength or fisticuffs. It was always “Watson, your revolver!”. I think you had it right the first time Deathstalker.

    December 29, 2009 at 10:53 am

  5. It’s an embellishment to be sure, but at least there is some mention of his fighting acumen.

    December 29, 2009 at 3:38 pm

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