Friday, March 12, 2010

Sherlock Holmes, 2009

Sherlock Holmes returns with a big-budget makeover. While Holmes purists may find fault in this new grittier Holmes, I found it enjoyable. No, not enjoyable. What’s that other word? Oh yes, superbly awesome. Robert Downey Jr. takes off the Ironman suit to play a rougher, drunker Holmes. His portrayal of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous detective gives the character a depth it’s not seen since he was treated for his cocaine addiction by Sigmund Freud in the 1976 movie, A Seven-Per-Cent Solution. Let’s be honest here. I’m a fan of Sherlock Holmes, it that little bit of random movie trivia didn’t tell you, but he’s become almost an archetype over the years. When you think of Holmes you think of a dourer, snuff sniffing, long faced man in black. He’s the prototype detective. Add severe OCD, you have Adrian Monk. Add two hundred pounds and a love of orchids, you have Nero Wolfe. You look at any lone private eye story and at the base of the character you have Sherlock Holmes. So, it was nice to see Holmes have flaws and a personality.

Likewise, Jude Law as Dr. Watson was refreshing and kick-ass. Long gone is the round, bumbling tagalong. This Watson holds his own against Holmes and his background as an army doctor finally comes to the forefront. This Watson doesn’t hang back making odd remarks but kicks down doors and handles a revolver like a true man of the military.

Holmes and Watson are at a rough time in their relationship. They have just finished the caper of Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) and Watson is preparing to move out of the house on Baker Street and marry his sweetheart, Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly). Holmes is taking this change in his life well, by drinking heavily and shooting holes in his wall. Don’t do cocaine kids. When he’s not revoking his security deposit on his apartment he’s ostracizing Watson’s fiancĂ© and getting into underground boxing matches. Another little known fact that among Holmes repertoire of skills, is boxing. This is only one of the many small notes of authenticity to Sir Conan Doyle’s original work throughout the film.

The slump Holmes finds himself in is soon broken by the arrival of Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), his potential love interest for the movie. She’s here to hire him for a new case, and that is the extent of her purpose in the movie. I thought her presence was unnecessary and her role could have easily been absorbed by others. She’s really there to abide the Hollywood rule that there must be a love interest in every movie. The plot progresses on with the rising of the presumed dead Lord Blackwood, and there is little else I can say without ruining the movie.

This is one of those films where you can’t trust the trailer. The trailer, for this particular movie, makes it look like Holmes is fighting against Cthulhu. This, thankfully (or sadly, depending on your views), is not the case. The movie stacks up to be a well crafted action mystery that won’t disappoint. Holmes does his classic deductions we’re all so fond of and at one point fights a man that looks like he could be a stand in for the Jolly Green Giant; a giant hammer wielding Jolly Green Giant.

Guy Ritchie I thought was an interesting choice as director. You may know him for his complex crime mysteries such as Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels which require subtitles for you to understand all the Cockney slang. You see a little bit of those two movies in Sherlock Holmes. Richie knows how to direct a good action scene and doesn’t have the spastic editing sytle that Hollywood is so hard for these days.

The movie is worth the price of a ticket and a tub of popcorn, which with prices these days is saying a lot. As for you Baker Street Regulars, think of it this way: Sherlock Holmes is being introduced to a whole new generation of kids who might actually put down the game controller and pick up a book now. Which, considering my generation, is saying a lot to.

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