Saturday, May 01, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

I’m not what you’d call a Sherlock Holmes purist, although I’ve read all of Conan Doyle’s novels about the character and most of the short stories. And I tend to like Robert Downey Jr. But when I heard that Downey was going to play Holmes, my first reaction was a dubious “I dunno about that.” The more I heard about the movie, the more skeptical I was.

Now that I’ve actually seen it, though, I have to admit that Downey’s eccentric portrayal won me over. No, he doesn’t match any physical image I ever had of Holmes (who in my mind will always look like Basil Rathbone, which tells you what movies I grew up watching on TV), and yes, I think the scriptwriters took some considerable liberties with Doyle’s version of the character. They also introduce a new villain, Lord Blackwood instead of Professor Moriarty, and the movie plays more like a Victorian-era James Bond adventure than a story of crime and detection. But despite all the action scenes and the occasional silliness, there’s quite a bit of detective work going on, too, as Holmes makes clear in several summations of the evidence late in the film.

I also liked Jude Law as Dr. Watson and thought the character was actually pretty close to Doyle’s version, a man of action who’s not as brilliant as Holmes but not exactly a dim bulb, either. Rachel McAdams’ performance as Irene Adler was panned by most people, including those who liked the movie overall, but I thought she was okay in the role, and Mark Strong made a good villain as well.

This is obviously the first movie in a series, so the set-up for the sequel is pretty blatant at the end. I enjoyed SHERLOCK HOLMES quite a bit and will certainly watch the next one. If you haven’t seen this one yet, I’d recommend giving it a try. You might hate it, but I found it very entertaining.


pattinase (abbott) said...

It was certainly entertaining and I loved the casting and atmosphere, but maybe too many action scenes for such a cerebral detective. Everything has the same frantic feel to it--movies, music, all of it.

Mark Terry said...

I'm a million miles away from being a Holmes purist (or really caring one way or the other, actually), but a number of people have gone through the stories and found fairly compelling evidence for many of the things in the movie, including Holmes commenting about once boxing and his knowledge of martial arts.

I'm vaguely reminded of Michael Moore once responding to critics about his documentaries, "Yeah, I made them entertaining." God forbid someone would actually be entertained by any recent carnations of Sherlock Holmes.

I liked the movie quite a bit.

Frank Loose said...

I didn't like it. There, I've posted it. I am not a Sherlock fanatic by any stretch, but for me it was too over the top. Well acted and directed and shot, etc, no doubt. But, the movie could have been about any two characters, not Holmes and Watson. In fact, if they had done that, i probably would have liked it more than i did. Guess I'm more of a purist.

I also disliked all the Bond movies after Connery left and they became too gimmicky and strictly action-oriented cartoons. Some character, please? Not that i mind action, but give me something that doesn't require sending my willing suspension of disbelief out into the stratosphere. I will not go see the sequel, should it come.

Tom Roberts said...

I love movies. And I love Sherlock Holmes. But . . .

The sound mix was terrible; I could not hear half of what Downey was uttering.

Overall is was boring I could not wait for this film to be over.

Give me back Jeremy Brett.

James Reasoner said...

I watch all movies with the subtitles on now, so the sound mix didn't bother me. I know what you mean, though. Most actors don't seem to know how to speak distinctly anymore, and the loud music and sound effects just make it worse.

Graham Powell said...

I thought the movie was pretty good, but the critics were right about McAdams. Sheesh.

Unknown said...

I saw this in the theater.

Although I've hearing disabled, some theaters have systems that transmit the soundtrack directly to a hearing aid/cochlear implant. Usually, with such systems, I can get enough of the dialogue to follow what is going on.

No such luck, with either Sherlock Holmes nor with Iron Man 2, however! In both movies, Downey muttered so much that I think I only understood only one or two lines of his dialogue in each movie.

He is a *very* good actor, but I wish he would learn to *enunciate*!

Going by the visuals, alone, though, I'm intrigued enough that I will probably Netflix it, and watch it with the captions on.

Anonymous said...

I thought the movie was OK. On Netflix I would give it 3 stars (liked it).I agree with other posts, trying to understand what Downey Jr was saying was a challenge (Not a sound mix problem, but a speech problem).The
movie does excel in one area however and that is, the best I ever heard in the use of surrounds. The mixers didn't miss any small detail and it shows. To date, this is the best use of 5.1 sound I have ever heard. The BluRay DVD gives you 1 choice for sound, DTS which is the best BluRay DTS I have ever heard. It was smooth, crisp and just perfect. If you are into sound, this should be on your list to listen to.