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Sherlock Holmes: A Review
There has been much speculation and hype surrounding Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes among Sherlockians and non-Sherlockians alike. We have a long tradition at our house of going to see a film on Christmas Day and since this film was released on Christmas Day it seemed like a perfect fit and fix. After opening presents and eating Christmas Stollen, we piled in the family estate wagon and headed to the motion-picture theater. It seems that our hero generated much interest because the film was showing on several screens, all with digital sound. The multitudes were there as the movie was sold out and (gasp) we were all asked to move in closer together, leaving no seat empty. The popcorn was even sold in a Sherlockian bag! (Yes, we bought it, ate it and saved the "official" bag-it is ephemera after all.)
I was pleasantly surprised at the film after reading and hearing so much leading up to its release. I am not sure what I expected but I was pulled into the aura of London in the late 1880's. The Pool of London was not the best place in town during the construction of the Tower Bridge and Mr. Ritchie certainly portrayed it as such. I felt that I was actually there as I watched the action unfold. And action there was, for this is certainly an action film first and Sherlock Holmes mystery second.
I thought the dynamics between Holmes and Watson (Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law, respectively) were flawless. I did not sense any of the homosexual tendencies that had been suggested before the film's release. Maybe there are some homo-phobic movie critics or Sherlockians out there who conjure up such ideas and these are the same people who suggest the same about Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone. I found the storyline to be a bit hazy at times but fun all the same. There was plenty of interest in the occult during this time. It was the time of Aleister Crowley and Harry Houdini. True to the Canon, Holmes never believed in it.
Those wanting to bash the film for its non-Canonicalness have a legitimate complaint but there has never been a pure Canonical film. The blog market can have a field day with films like this because Canonical interpretation is an individual thing and I wish more people would relax and enjoy the film for it's own merit and that alone. I enjoyed the movie as a grand romp through London at the time of the construction of Tower Bridge that happened to also feature Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Irene Adler. It was fun to hear the audience as they laughed at appropriate times. It held my attention and swept me away from reality for 2:14 and also left the door wide open for a sequel. Leaving the theater it was fun to see the next group of moviegoers lined up as if waiting for an amusement park ride.
I have heard Downey's Holmes described as an ill-kempt midget, which by the way is not too far off of the mark. However, it will be interesting to see if the next person to portray Holmes will be compared to Downey as Brett was to Rathbone and he to Gillette. As Sherlockians, we should be thankful that there is such a grand character to work with. I simply look forward to the next installment and hope you will too.
Past 2009 Columns