Friday, 1 January 2010

Sherlock Holmes - Review

Happy New Year film bloggers! With taking myself off for a week to indulge in turkey, ham and buckets of red wine I fear tonight's Friday review is a late one, which by all means, you have all probably seen by now, yes it's the latest in a very very...very long line of Sherlock Holmes adaptations.

Unlike many previous films based on the legendary character, this movie takes on an original story by Lionel Wigram, which sees this century's dynamic duo, Holmes and Watson (Downey Jr and Law), clash with the mysterious Lord Blackwood - played by frequent Guy Ritchie collaborator, Mark Strong.

Since his stellar debut and follow up films, Lock Stock... and Snatch, Guy Ritchie's career has been somewhat blighted with a curious mish mash of complete sh**e in the form of Swept Away and the unspeakably bad and needlessly complex Revolver. When he returned to more respectable form in 2008 with RocknRolla, though it was highly enjoyable, it made me think if cockney gangster films were all he was actually capable of?

Though Sherlock Holmes is not, by any means, the best film of 2009, it was hardly another blemish on Ritchie's already patchy career.

Robert Downey Jr was excellent as the title character, and managed to give a slightly more unique and fresh spin than his acting counterparts yet still retaining on the traditional traits that was associated with him in the past. Ritchie even took time to delve into his fondness for boxing, yet unfortunately, merely skimmed on his well documented morphine addiction. He was charming, eccentric, witty and larger than life itself. Jude Law was also in similarly fine form as the intrepid assistant Doctor Watson, gone are the days of Watson being merely a fat, bumbling sidekick, this incarnation of Watson was able to stand toe to toe as Holmes significant other - in a professional context of course. Both of the performances combined made for some genuinely hilarious chemistry and moments of dialogue.

It did suffer the occasional pitfall in terms of the production values. Some of the CGI was actually pretty poor by modern standards, especially in the scene involving Holmes and a giant angry Frenchman with a hammer, destroying a dry dock. Some of the actions sequences were far too stylised at times. Perhaps the greatest annoyance of the feature was narrative skipping back and forth from real time to Holmes' inner monolouge of his ever so slightly exaggerated methods of deduction. After all, Sherlock Holmes he may be, but when it comes to a scrap, he's hardly Batman - I know Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight composer) did the soundtrack, but it did take the piss a bit at times.

Final Thoughts
The jury is perhaps still out on Guy Ritche's Sherlock Holmes as the definitive adaptation, however no one can argue that it is not the most accessible to all audiences. Die hard followers of the original works may throw their nose up at the modernised reworking of the character. However very few can deny that the film was explosive, smartly written, featured two outstanding performances in Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law and most importantly, it was a hell of a lot of honest fun that most of the family could enjoy. With smoothing a few of the film's annoyingly rough edges, the inevitable sequel hinted on the film's closing moments could surely surpass this highly competent first cinematic outing for Holmes in the 21st Century. It's all rather elementary, one would think....


See this if you liked...
The Hounds of the Baskervilles (1963 version starring Peter Cushing), League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Lock Stock, Snatch.

Sherlock Holmes is in all theatres now.

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