Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Movie quotes:
Inspector Lestrade: In another life, Mr. Holmes, you would have made an excellent criminal.
Sherlock Holmes: Yes, and you an excellent policeman.

Irene Adler: Why are you always so suspicious?
Sherlock Holmes: Should I answer chronologically or alphabetically?

At a glance:
Guy Ritchie stamps his stylized cartoon violence onto Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in this visually stunning, exciting re-imagination

Our review (with spoilers):
Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) used to be a man who used his brain almost exclusively to solve crime. Sidekick Watson (Jude Law) has varied from a likable, bumbling sidekick to an important member of the team, and is usually a sobering balance to Holmes’ addictions, obsessions, and overindulgence. The typical Holmes/Watson characterizations are thrown aside in this modernized remake/reimaging of the classic tales. Holmes still uses his copious deductive talents, but he also doesn’t mind using that same logical mind to chart a series of punches in bare-knuckle boxing. Fortunately, Downey’s diminutive stature allows this to work – if Holmes was a tall, scary fighter, he wouldn’t seem like Holmes at all anymore. Watson is still a calming influence, but he is dapper, almost suave, and he also doesn’t mind a good Batman and Robin style fight. In fact, this version of Holmes/Watson is probably closer to a 19th century Batman/Robin teaming than anyone would care to admit. Purists will be disappointed, but in this age of film remakes (for example, Star Trek), if you can look past the destruction of iconic characters, you can make a very good film (that really is related to them in name only). Personally, if someone wanted to see a purer form of Holmes, I would push them toward the Granada television series from the 1980s (starring Jeremy Brett). But the script is well-written for what it is trying to accomplish; Downey and Law are two of the strongest male leads in Hollywood, even if they are perhaps not the strongest box office draws.

Here, modern Holmes is pitted against evil Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who seemingly rises from the grave. His ambitions are large: to take over the world and kill anyone in his way. There are a couple of love interests (Rachel McAdams and Kelly Reilly) lurking about to make this more interesting.

The film itself is lovely to look at. The production design effectively captures the grimy, coal-stained streets of industrial London. Some striking sets include Tower Bridge, still in the process of being built, and an exciting fight with a giant in a ship-building yard.

Rating:  3 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"Essentially, this is Lethal Weapon in ye olde worlde London, which will surely have the purists up in arms, but as buddy flicks go, it's a welcome twist."
- Digital Spy

"With his reckless attitude, Downey Jr. may not be the refined Sherlock Holmes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s conjuring, but this feisty reimagining is strikingly impressive and cements Downey’s standing as one of the best actors in Hollywood."
- Rip It Up

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