Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Movie Review - Sherlock Holmes (2009)

It seems that just about everything is getting a re-envisaging at the moment, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective is the latest. Played by Robert Downey Jr., this Sherlock Holmes is as much into martial arts as deductive reasoning, and frankly something of a mess without the steadying influence of his long-time friend, Dr John Watson (Jude Law). One thing I liked about this film was that Watson was a fully developed and thoroughly capable character in his own right, not the bumbling side-kick that so many films and TV series have portrayed him as. In fact his only real failing is his inability not to get drawn into the insane situation that Holmes constantly finds himself in.

During an opening scene which seems to be the complete solution of a crime resulting in the imprisonment of Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), we see Holmes' complete disregard for convention but strong sense of justice. Watson's tendency to get annoyed with him but their amazing ability to work together are also very much in evidence. This is supposed to be the culmination of their last case together - Watson is getting married to Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly) and moving to more prestigious accommodation, while Holmes... is busy getting himself further into a dark brodding depression caused by boredom, lack of challenge, lack of social interaction and a strange obsession with performing experiments on Watson's dog and trapped flies. Then comes an unusual request - Lord Blackwood asks to see him as a dying man's last wish. His words to Holmes are even stranger, and events that follow are more surreal still - not to say worrying.

Amidst the strangeness and dark forces mobilising, Holmes is visited by the one woman he's ever truly loved - renowned crook Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams). She comes to him with a job and the suggestion of a promise of love... the two play cat and mouse around the wider issues of the plot. Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan) attempts to keep Holmes in check without diminishing the amazing and unpredictable talents of the detective. Other characters include Sir Thomas (James Fox). Ambassador Standish (William Hope), Constable Clark (William Houston) and "Dredger" (Robert Maillet).

There storyline is good, keeping you guessing most of the time and having a suitably ingenious solution. In general I like what's been done with the characters, and there's certainly lots of action and a fair smattering of humour to go along with the sleuthing. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law make a great on-screen combination, with plenty of sparky chemistry whether they're on good terms at the time or not. Rachel McAdams is fine as Irene Adler, and the rest of the cast are good. Surprisingly, as I've always liked his performances in other films, I found Mark Strong to be the weak link in the acting department - I don't think the severe haircut helped him, it was hard to take him seriously! To me the main evil dude was absent for too much of the movie (even given that he was supposed to be dead for quite a bit of it).

Victorian London has been lovingly recreated with loads of CGI, which looks brilliant most of the time. In the final cliff-hanger scenes though (where the cliff is replaced with scaffolding works), I found that the realism was lost quite badly. There was just about enough tension and action to overcome this, but it was still noticeable.

The only thing that really stopped me from loving this film was the tendency of the direction *Guy Ritchie) to become obsessed with violence. For me there wasn't quite enough humour in this film considering the strength of the characters, and if the emphasis on violence had been diverted to more comedic scenes, I'd have liked the 2009 rendition of Sherlock Holmes even more. I still really enjoyed it, but just thought that it could have been even better.

Finally, the music - even by Hans Zimmer's implausibly high standards, the music score for Sherlock Holmes 2009 was fantastic. The mood and style of the music constantly changed, but not only was it always superb, it also complemented whatever was happening in the movie absolutely perfectly.

Overall Sherlock Holmes was a very enjoyable film, and the new twist on the characters has worked very well.

Other Information

Runtime: 128 minutes
Rated 12A (UK), PG-13 (USA) for intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images and a scene of suggestive material.

See also: Sherlock Holmes - The Definitive Collection review

Related Links

Robert Downey Jr.:
- Iron Man
- Chances Are
- Only You

Jude Law:
- Cold Mountain

CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog


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hanum said...

I like this movie, really awesome, cool.

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