Monday, December 28, 2009

Movie review: Sherlock Holmes (2009)

It may surprise some of my dear readers that I, as an avid Sherlockian, would deign to see this movie. At first glance (i.e, the trailers), it appeared to be an abomination of the Canon.

Note: there may be some spoilers!

As much as I love Robert Downey, Jr as an actor, in no way does he physically fit any description of Holmes anywhere. Much like Hugh Jackman being a full foot taller than his character, Wolverine, RDJ does not possess the height, physiognomy nor even the eye color of Doyle's detective. Nor did Jude Law's Watson ring entirely true: he had the limp, the moustache and the good looks of Watson, but was taller than Holmes and more slender than out to have been.

As for character, the only ones that could be considered true to the original were Watson, the soon-to-be- Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade and Professor Moriarty. Holmes' character was nothing more than the sum of all the known and surmised eccentricities and slovenly about his person; Irene Adler started off strong, but descended into damsel-in-distess/at-the-mercy-of-powerful-men type of rubbishy character. The villain, Lord Blackwood, was not as venal as he could have been, but his wardrobe was fantastic.

London is portrayed in all its unglamorous, crowded, filthy, horse-dropping-bedecked street beauty, all in murky browns and greys; 221B is far larger and jam-packed with objets, dark, smoky and somewhat repugnant.

There was a feeling that the director did not know what to do with the female characters- while Watson's fiancee had the strength of character her Canonical counterpart had, she was filmed oddly and mysteriously, for no apparent reason. Irene Adler was filmed mostly in headshots, her cheekbones and pouty, mauve-hued lips first and foremost.

This movie was incredibly fun as an action/comedy- if viewed as a non-Holmesian piece, it is thoroughly enjoyable. The only impediment to that is having substantial knowledge of the original material- lines are sprinkled here and there from the Canon only serve to highlight the considerable departure from it.

There is plenty of action, as can be expected in a Ritchie film. The relationship between Holmes and Watson is well drawn out, but not overburdened; the Holmes/Adler relationship is dutifully sketched - kindred souls with an unfulfilled potential, and some unnecessarily sexy bits tossed in for....well, for no reason at all. The story, filled with the occult and political machinations, moves along and all is revealed, in true Doyle style, at the end.

Rating: 4 crowns out of 5






8 comments:

K. A. Laity said...

I am so tired of the inability to see women as PEOPLE. Irksome.

I admit to having an "ooh!" moment when I realised that Mark Strong was the villain. :-)

I saw the trailers and thought "They're trying to make this like the new Bond series." Sounds like it for sure.

The Queen said...

Yeah, I expected more out of Mark Strong, but he was up against some strong competition with Downey and even Law (whom I tend to dismiss until I see in a movie.)

K. A. Laity said...

Well, I might be tempted to see it after your review. We shall see -- in my abundant free time...

The Queen said...

It was definitely a fun movie, for sure! And it has RDJ.....

Wendy said...

Your review sounds awfully generous. I may have to reconsider, but then again, I'm not a fan of Guy Ritchie films.

Want to get together and watch Wolverine? That's out now on DVD, right? And you have, like, a billion copies, correct?

The Queen said...

I am a fan of Ritchie's movies, but, anyway, it is fun and it has hot guys. You could do worse than watching this!

Oh, Wolverine: Origins? I just ordered it! I'll let you know when it comes in....

Cranky Yankee said...

Joey and I saw Wolverine when it came out. Yes, there is plenty wrong with it...but who cares! Any excuse to see Hugh half naked! I'm not ashamed to say that's pretty much why I went to see the movie. Hehhehehehe

The Queen said...

Haha! I don't think you were the only one! :)