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Sherlock Holmes (2009) **1/2

January 18, 2010


Written by: Michael Robert Johnson (1st screenplay), Anthony Peckham (Invictus, Don’t Say a Word), and Simon Kimberg (Jumper, Mr. & Mrs. Smith)

Produced by: Joel Silver (V for Vendetta, The Matrix), Susan Downey (The Book of Eli, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), and Dan Lin (Terminator Salvation, The Departed)

Directed by: Guy Ritchie (RocknRolla, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels)

Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images and a scene of suggestive material) – 128 min.

U.S. Release Date: December 25, 2009

After a bout of unintentional horror films (Swept Away, Revolver, and RocknRolla), Guy Ritchie is back to the big screen with a title that garners more mainstream appeal and signs of competent filmmaking.  For Sherlock Holmes, Ritchie is awarded some A-list star power (Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams), a budget bigger than any other of his previous projects to date, and all the leftover green screens from Avatar.  Ritchie-hate aside, Holmes is an enjoyable holiday film that should leave most audience members feeling like they got their money’s worth, and maybe more.

Set in 19th century London, Sherlock Holmes opens with the dramatic conclusion of a case where Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Doctor Watson (Jude Law) apprehend Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), an Occult sorcerer and serial killer.  Blackwood is quickly tried in court, found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged.  Shortly after his death, reports of Blackwood sightings surface and it seems the sorcerer has raised himself from the grave to continue his killing spree.  This could not come at a worse time for Holmes and Watson, as Watson is engaged and is packing to move out, and Holmes is off drinking the days away and working as a pit fighter (yeah, that’s right).  The re-introduction of Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), former lover of the Holmes’s, quickly brings the storied duo back into hot pursuit of Lord Blackwood.

Upon diving back into this case, Holmes and Watson are thrown into a hunt involving secret societies, black magic, and angry giants (just see for yourself).   They must wage war against a seemingly immortal Lord Blackwood as he attempts to overthrow the British Parliament, and yes… take over the United States of America.  Apparently the black magic-wielding evil sorcerer wasn’t enough to get American audiences behind Holmes and Watson’s mission, so I suppose putting the good ol’ U.S. of A. at risk was enough to put Blackwood’s evil rating over the edge (my sarcasm may not translate well through text, but please note its presence).

With an extremely limited amount of time, Holmes and Watson must take down an elite group of Occult-following parliament members, as well as Lord Blackwood himself.  The ride is entertaining and fun, though nothing I haven’t seen before.  The bubbling cauldron of period-piece action and witty-comedy is reminiscent of any other big-named summer movie franchise in recent memory (see Pirates of the Caribbean or look forward to Prince of Persia).

Even though I ripped on Guy Ritchie’s recent projects earlier, I could’ve used a little more of Ritchie in this film.  His earlier works of Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels rank among my favorites and only including his trademarked pre-meditative slow-motion sequences is a bit of a waste.  I’ve said it about other films that have released recently, but I think nearly any Hollywood director could have taken the helm of Sherlock Holmes and come away with a very similar result.

The chemistry between Downey and Law is undeniable, no matter how homosexual the undertones, and the two are enjoyable to watch as they go through this adventure together.  Downey stole the show as Holmes, selling all facets of his complex character (witty, acrobatic, Muy-Thai fighting, disguise-wearing detective), and staying true to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s source material.  Inserted post-Golden Globes: Though Downey’s Holmes as a fun watch, I can maybe see him wrangling the Comedy/Musical Best Actor Golden Globe, but I do not think he will even be nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actor category.  However, with the dominance of Avatar at the Golden Globes, the Oscars may sell-out big time this week as well.

All things considered, if you want a relatively mindless, family-friendly, funny, action-packed, summer franchise-esque film, go see Sherlock Holmes.  Don’t go expecting a Memento­-like screenplay or anything.

Sherlock Holmes (2009) Law

Sherlock Holmes (2009) McAdams

Sherlock Holmes (2009) Strong

Sherlock Holmes (2009) poster

Sherlock Holmes (2009) teaser


3 Comments leave one →
  1. windi permalink
    January 18, 2010 10:53 pm

    The movie was lots of fun. Downey Jr. was a joy to watch, as usual. I thought the plot was way too complicated for the movie, though. Obviously was left open for parts 2 and 3 and etc. etc. Which is a shame really, but the next couple of installments will just disappoint. Sometimes it’s better to let a good thing end.

  2. Eve permalink
    January 24, 2010 7:30 pm

    Enjoyed the film–RDJ was the highlight and really fun to watch. I loved the slow mo pre-enactments!


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