Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sherlock Holmes
Warner Brothers’ recent take on the ammeter detective and his sidekick is not something that will likely find much "middle ground" with viewers. Instead, this blockbuster will be one of two things. It will either be loved or despised. Fans of the original Holmes find this full of gaps, while some of us can merely enjoy this for what it is. 

Trouble is afoot on the dark streets of London. Evil is lurking around the corner so long as a serial killer remains on the loose, a killer who has murdered five innocent women. And he must be stopped. Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is on the man’s trail, and about to crack yet another case for the police. In the nick of time, Holmes, along with his rooming partner and friend, Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) burst onto the scene to find the evil Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) prepared to kill again. Sentenced to death, the streets of London look quieter and there is no longer a sense of panic among its citizens. Until rumors spread that the man has come back from the dead.

Coinciding with Blackwood’s return is the return of Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams). Notorious for working outside the law, while Sherlock works with it, Irene has a job for him. A simple missing person’s case suddenly ties into the recent reappearance of Blackwood, making Holmes even more curious. Tagging along reluctantly is Watson who is planning on marrying the love of his life, with promises of ending his career as a would-be detective even as their quest becomes more complex.

Purists take issue with this recent feature film. Not being among those, I found no fault whatsoever with this in that context. In fact, it's ingenious. You’ve never seen Sherlock quite like this. Director Guy Ritchie gave his take a unique attitude all its own, which is desperately need when we see the same basic material over and over again. (Depending on who you talk with, filmmakers did so without downgrading the infamous detective we all know and love.) The only thing I did miss was the singularly popular phrase, “elementary, dear Watkins.” At one end of the spectrum, you admire him for trying new things, and at the other, we want such faithful touches.

Various occult rituals are experienced in darker trends for this particular mystery (something that may cause Christian viewers to be upset). Personally, I didn’t find it overly troubling simply because it did not affect my beliefs. In the end, everything is easily explained away by a logical explanation. Irrespective, I was able to enjoy this for what it was, and boy, is it a fun ride! Filming is unique while at the same time being bizarre. It plays, in slow motion, out what is going on in Sherlock’s mind at the time, so that you “get” everything that is about to happen. In other words, we see Holmes strategies before they happen. It's a style of filmmaking that took getting used to, but certainly seeing it about three times (since then), I don’t even care one way or another now.

Sherlock Holmes

Each of the characters are well-written. They all retain an aura of mystery that sometimes can be a little unnerving albeit proper for the story's subject. People are finding fault with this characterization of Holmes because he is more of a brawler than a brainiac. And I can understand that to some extent, but I saw him as a brilliant genius. True, he’s crazy, which is what makes him interesting, and in truth, I draw many comparisons between this Sherlock and the new BBC series. There are a couple of characters under-used, but once again Mark Strong steals scenes as the villain. There isn’t a weak link to be found. Not being fond of Downey had me skeptical but he pulls off the iconic character marvelously while Rachel’s Irene isn’t explained as well as she should be. Costuming is lovely with a design befitting of the era, if not wholly accurate, it suits the production quite perfectly.

If it were up to me, I’d say this was a definitive addition to Detective Holmes and Dr. Watson’s collection, but then, having never read the original material, perhaps that wouldn’t be fair. With a sequel already cut and waiting release (although this one was closed “enough” should it not have been made with that hint of another case), I can only count down the days until its release.

Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows opens December 16th. Are you going to see it? 

PS: don’t forget to check out the prior post to this – Danielle’s guest post!

(Content concerns: fist-fights and betting is a theme. Guns are fired several times, often hitting intended targets.  A man is tied naked to a bed with only a small pillow covering his privates. There are a few other scattered sensual references. Profanity is mostly of the British variety, but never becomes too offensive. Blackwood practices spells and séances frequently.  His goal is to appear immortal. This is rated PG13)


  1. Okay, I am in the despised category.....and I have never even seen it. I love Sherlock the way he was written (couldn't you tell? =)) and the previews look like this movie would bug me

    But I am glad that you enjoy it

  2. I'm actually a Holmes fanatic, film and book, and I really enjoy the Guy Ritchie adaptations, even though they're nothing like the originals. Maybe that's the whole point. We've seen accurate portrayals of Holmes in so many ways, even Cumberpatch in "Sherlock." But these new movies . . . they're unexpectedly exciting and just plain fun.

    So, yes, I'm definitely going to see the new movie! Maybe not on opening day but certainly next week. *grins*

  3. Okay so what am I? I love the stories, LOVE the Jeremy Brett-as-Holmes TV series, LOVE the BBC Sherlock series, and I enjoy this film. Does that make me an anomaly? Maybe I can keep sparklingangel company? ;) LOL! Yep, definitely going to see Sherlock Holmes 2! :)

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  5. Action movies {which I would classify this as} really aren't my thing... Though I would give this a try, because...c'mon! It's Sherlock Holmes! I would miss the ever so popular "Elementary, dear Watkins" though.

  6. (I noticed that my comment left out words, so I'm re-posting and expanding on my thoughts.)

    Truth be told, I'm not a fan of brawlers. I have never liked fist fighting. I don't like any sport in which mean beat the living daylights out of one another for fun. The minute they presented Holmes brawling in street fight clubs for cash, I was done with the film. If they had not gone there, I might have liked the movie a lot better -- but they did; they tarnished my beloved, dignified Sherlock Holmes not only by handcuffing him naked to a bed, but also having him beat up others for sport. I am a puritan, but I can handle some changes and I do have a sense of humor -- just not those two deal-breakers in addition to the absurd "Sherlock Holmes was Irene's former lover" plot line. That was just too much, and the cross-dressing Holmes in trailers for the sequel doesn't improve my opinion of the franchise.

    I'm glad others can enjoy it, even though frequently I wonder how they could!

  7. * men

    This is really not my morning! =P

  8. Ella - ah! You've never see this one?? (We may have found something to "disagree to agree" on.)

    If you are turned off by the previews then you likely wouldn't like it... but I find it hilarious! The script has a great sense of humor and despite what the purists say, I definitely see parallels to the new BBC series. =)

    Sparklingangel - oh, goody! A fan of the "original" Holmes who likes this version. ;D I've not read any of the original material and only have seen one oldie movie, so I am sure that makes a difference in my opinion but... I just love this film! It is grand.

    I won't see this on opening day either (too much of a crowd) but I am hoping to get to it before it is gone.

    Thanks bunches for dropping by - and for following!! I am so glad you did - please join in often. =)

    Ruth - me, too, Ruth; the new BBC series is absolute brilliance! Never did see the Jeremy Brett version though...

    My goal is to see A Game of Shadows in theaters also, but we'll see how it plays out.

    Trinka - oooh! You don't like action flicks?? I find them really exciting and love the mystery to them. Sherlock Holmes is very entertaining, so I hope if you see it that you do enjoy it. =)

    Charity - any type of fighting (i.e. boxing, wrestling, etc.) is not my thing, either... but I found this movie one of the most entertaining that I've seen. That (his fighting) isn't a huge part of the movie, so I am likely able to separate it from the better bits of the story - although he and Watson do get themselves in a number of awkward situations. The scene with Holmes tied to a bed was a little "tacky" but I just laugh at it - the maid's expression is priceless! (I would have ran screaming from the room, too. ;-D)The cross-dressing thing... yeah that made me laugh, too. =D

    This is definitely one of my most favorite flicks - what more can I say??

    (In reference to your prior comment; burning the entire franchise?? Wow that is harsh! LOL!)

    I hope your day gets better. =)

    Great thoughts everyone! I love reading posts with such a great response!! Thanks.

  9. The common internet retort for anything someone doesn't like is "DIAF" -- "Die in a Fire"! Normally, I consider myself above such common expressions but it amuses me, so I make exceptions. ;)

  10. Charity - ;-D Never heard that one.


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