Friday, January 29, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

Now this will be a tough one to review. Sherlock Holmes should, at face value, get a rather good review because the positives outweigh the negatives, but the large number of negatives the film has might not see it turn out that way. Ho hum, let me type away and let you decide, dear reader, if the film is worth seeing or not. Although the $400 million it has taken at the box office suggests that those who wish to see it have done so already……

I am no real expert in the world of Sherlock, so I have no idea if what I write here gives much of the game away. On the off chance that it does, and I will be mentioning the ending, here’s one of those *** SPOILER ALERTS *** for you in regards of all that appears below this.

Sherlock Holmes opens with Sherlock and his ‘partner’ (more on that later) Dr Watson apparently ready to go separate ways after the capture and execution of a somewhat elusive villain, the black arts practicing Lord Blackwood. When Lord Blackwood apparently returns from the dead, however, the two decide to see the whole case through to the end, and…..well, that’s it.

To start off with a negative, it would be the threadbare plot and dubious lack of any development of what story they actually do have to show. There’s barely enough material on display – in particular with regards to the simplistic solution to how the good Lord Blackwood cheated death – to fill a standard episode of a TV show, let alone a film that goes a bit over two hours. Considering the wealth of material available featuring Sherlock Holmes how exactly they couldn’t come up with an involved, interesting and fleshed out story is somewhat beyond me.

How they fill up the two hours does, on occasion, get depressing. In the film before this, RockNRolla, Guy Ritchie seemed to be rediscovering his form, as that film featured his usual film-making style but appeared to expand on it somewhat. Here we just go back to time-distorting flashbacks and “flash forwards” tricks from Snatch and Lock, Stock to fill up some time, fill the odd gaping plot hole and show off the brilliant mind of Sherlock Holmes. They are tricks that this time really don’t work as well as they were intended.

A distinct positive, and the thing that gets you through the film entertained, are the two lead performances Robert Downey jnr is brilliant in any part they care to give him, but here he positively revels in the role. Robert acts above any preposterous scene that Ritchie has devised (and I am not convinced that bare knuckle boxing took up as much of Holmes’ time as the film suggests) and clearly just gets on with his own thing. Jude Law is something of a bizarre revelation. In all other films I have seen him in (and I actively avoid them) he seems to just stand around pouting and trying to look good. Here he does something close to actual acting, and he’s not half bad at it.

But what of the actresses, or “female actors” for you politically correct types? Sadly, it seems, Mr Ritchie suffers still the same problem of Mr Tarantino. Neither have a clue how to write or develop a female character, instead just writing the female parts as if they were men.

A big talking point around the film was the fact that the Estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was “rather concerned with the apparent homoerotic overtones created in the Holmes-Watson relationship.” (read of it here). Apparent? As the two of them gaze into each others’ eyes, having the occasional ‘bromance’ style embrace, you half expect them to ditch their bowler hats, pull on some cowboy boots and turn the whole thing into Brokeback Sherlock. I am sure out there somewhere there’s a market for a Victorian era homosexual detective story or film; it might perhaps have been better for them to create a new one for it than turn Sherlock Holmes into such a tale.

The introduction of Sherlock Holmes’ ultimate, if you will “uber” nemesis, Moriarty, is heavy handed to say the least. The mind boggles as to why they have done this, but they have more or less taken the excellent way in which The Joker was brought in at the end of Batman Begins and tried to do the same thing here very, very badly. If this means that the second Sherlock Holmes film turns out as good as The Dark Knight then fine, but you suspect that this will not be the case.

Hmn, despite the above, I would have to say the film is very much worth the watch, if just for Robert Downey jnr’s dazzling turn alone, along with the novelty factor of Jude Law being something other than a pretty clothes model. Look, if you don’t see it, it’s not like you have missed out on an “event”. If you do, however, watch it, you won’t regret the two or so hours spent in the company of the film.

Be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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