Friday, January 29, 2010

Film Review - Sherlock Holmes

Film #10 of 2010 - Sherlock Holmes

Directed by Guy Ritchie, (Snatch, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels) Sherlock Holmes is technically a reboot of the Sherlock Holmes film series, though in this era, the best known of them, the old Sherlock Holmes films of the 1940's starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, could be classified better as a slightly longer than one hour drama. Seriously, I got caught up in a marathon of them a few weekends ago on Turner Classic Movies and before I knew it, I had watched about 6 movies in 7 hours. Starring Robert Downey Jr. as the title character and co-starring Jude Law as Dr. Watson, the film focuses on a young, active and fairly depressed Holmes who, despite his general ennui, finds himself drawn to the mystery of a black magic artist named Lord Blackwood who appears to have risen from the dead after being executed for his crimes. Rachel McAdams is Irene Adler, a petty thief who happens to be Holmes' ex, who is working as a double agent for a mysterious patron.

I actually enjoyed Sherlock Holmes a little more than I expected to. I have to admit I had some trepidation after some of his missteps this decade (RocknRolla, marriage to Madonna, Swept Away...) but based on my deep appreciation for his "good" movies (the aforementioned Snatch and Lock, Stock) I was more than willing to give it a shot. Plus, one can't seem to go wrong anymore when Robert Downey Jr. stars in a picture. He definitely delivers in this film, giving us a vital, physical and incredibly flawed Holmes, and though Jude Law seems to be kind of a douche in real life, I have a lot of respect for him as an actor. I loved his dour, though not blundering take on Watson. One character that I considered to be superfluous and only there to drive the plot to the inevitable conclusion and transition to the sequel was McAdams' Irene. It wasn't egregious to the point of complete annoyance, but she did absolutely nothing for me.

As far as the film itself goes, Ritchie did a great job. The cinematography was great and the scenes that were obviously CGI didn't look fake; in fact, it was neat to see Victorian England in the state it was in. I really enjoyed seeing some of Ritchie's signature style pop in once in a while, namely when Holmes was engaged in a fight; the stylish super slow-mo is always an attention getter, when done right, and regardless of how bad the rest of one of his movies can be, Ritchie is able to deliver those kinds of scenes masterfully, in an age when that kind of style is so overdone. I have to give a special mention to the final credits of the film, which were like a work of art, almost like crude watercolor paintings. Title sequences, whether opening or closing credits, are so often overlooked, and sometimes they are as good, if not better than the rest of the film, or significantly add to the general production. (Off the top of my head, the opening and closing credits to Se7en come to mind.)

On a negative note, I think that, while the pacing was decent enough, the film was altogether too long and I think would have benefited from about 15 minutes being chopped from it. Overall, however, Sherlock Holmes turned out to be a good film that set up a franchise that I would definitely be interested to see in the future.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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