December 28, 2009

A Holmes Movies Like Other Holmes Movies

Like many people, I grew up reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's takes of the great detective. I've even enjoyed many of the filmed versions of the character. I say this because I really wanted to enjoy Guy Ritchie's film version of the character, featuring Robert Downey, Jr. as the great detective.

However, Sherlock Holmes is pretty much a one-note movie, and the nicest thing I can say about that it's reminiscent of other Holmes movies. Otherwise, this is a movie that wallows in its mediocrity.

Now, admittedly, I'm not the greatest Robert Downey, Jr. fan - I think many of his performances hit the same notes all the time. However, the notes that work for him well in Iron Man come across poorly, making his portrayal of Holmes seem more like a parody than a serious attempt. (Well, except for that one time I put on a deerstalker while facing a camcorder...but that's a tale for another day). It just doesn't work, along with Ritchie's tendency to explain-how-Holmes-will-kick-ass-before-he-actually-kicks-ass, and then show the footage. It just....doesn't fit. It's worth a rental, at best, but not seeing in a theater.

(By the way, a note to Robert Downey, Jr. - Hugh Laurie called, he wants his tv role back, please.) However, I have to admit - Jude Law is frickin' brilliant as Watson. In fact, if they cut out Downey's Holmes, that would make this movie much more enjoyable. Law's ability to portray Watson in a slightly different, bromantic light. And, of course, Rachel McAdams make pretty good eye candy...there's enough references to classic Holmes for the purist, but it still doesn't feel like Holmes.

In fact, much of Sherlock Holmes seem cribbed from other movies. The Watson-is-frustrated-by-Holmes bits? Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine did it better in Without a Clue. Holmes as dynamic man of action with a sensitive side. Two words: Jeremy Brett. (And you can even watch him through Netflix). And the plotline? Either check out any remake of Hound of the Baskervilles or the Jack-the-Ripper-conspiracy film Murder by Decree.

But quite honestly - you're best bet to capture the essence of Holmes is to reread the original stories (also available via a quick search on Librivox). But this 21st Century of Holmes...well, it could have been done much better. And has been.

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