30 Second Review: Sherlock Holmes

30 SECOND REVIEW:  Sherlock Holmes
directed by Guy Ritchie, released December 25, 2009

Two months after it opened, I finally got to see Sherlock Holmes.  While I may not consider it to be one of my favorite movies of the year, it was highly entertaining and beautifully realized.

Understand, now, that I am of the era where Sherlock Holmes was detached and cerebral, complete with deerstalker’s cap and calabash pipe.  Still and all, I had no issues with Guy Ritchie’s take on Holmes being far more physical and bohemian than previous interpretations (which in fact is closer to the character as written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).  Maybe it is because Robert Downey Jr. does such a fantastic job of bringing this brawling, profane Holmes to life, seamlessly weaving in the familiar aspects of Holmes’ keen intellect, spectacular attention to detail and sarcastic sense of humor with the buff, vital Holmes of this movie.  He truly made Holmes compelling, surprising and fresh.

Just as strong was Jude Law’s Dr. Watson.  In fact, his realization of Watson was spot on in my opinion – smart, savvy, kind, and a perfect foil for Holmes.  I feel that Law’s interpretation of Watson was finally close to what Conan Doyle had originally intended; his Watson had an intellect that could match Holmes’, a temperament that was a perfect complement for the detective’s caustic humor, and a fondness for Holmes that was palpable yet beautifully restrained. 

The other characters and story line are almost superfluous.  We expect there to be some kind of highly perplexing, convoluted problem to solve, and that holds true in the movie.  The fabric of the story is not nearly as important as is its role as a platform for Holmes and Watson to be, well, Holmes and Watson.  The insertion of a romantic interest for Holmes in the person of Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) – a former client/protagonist of the literary Holmes, and one of the few who has ever outwitted him – felt forced and unnecessary, but was well enough scripted to keep it from upsetting the flow of what was truly important – Holmes and Watson.

Yet as well as Downey and Law did, for me the real stars of the movie were the designers, artists and technicians who made old London come to life.  Every frame of the movie felt authentic, from the cluttered rooms, the streets full of people and carriages, the cramped shipworks and the opulence of hotel rooms and club headquarters.  Even the sounds – shoes on wooden floors, the bustle of traffic on brick, heavy wooden doors – evoked damp, dirty, crowded, glorious London.  The amount of detail in the art direction and the beauty of the cinematography were marvelous, and added immensely to the believability of the film.

I would give Sherlock Holmes an A- for technical excellence and sheer entertainment.  If you haven’t seen this film yet, do, before it leaves the theatres.  It will translate well to dvd, but you may want to see it on the big screen while you have the chance.

~ by arcticwren on February 21, 2010.

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