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Saturday, 9 January 2010

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes

Today I’ll be writing up a review for the latest silver screen incarnation of the world famous super sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. I finally managed to watch it this Wednesday with my friends at the mall but was caught off guard when almost all of the guys in our year came along for the ride. It was just supposed to be a few of us at first but then things seemed to have picked up due to someone’s comment on Facebook. The downside to that was the ticket trouble we had since it we all part of one big group. Me and Khai kept having to move around during the previews because it was hard to keep track of which seats we bought.

Anyway, the movie features Robert Downey Junior of Iron Man fame as Sherlock Holmes with Jude Law playing his Watson and Guy Ritchie as the film’s director. Me being a fan of the books myself just had to go see this movie once I heard that “Tony Stark” was going to play Holmes even though the last time I read one of his stories was back in 2005. Also, the music was done by the genius Hans Zimmer who delivered an awesome soundtrack that fit perfectly with the setting, mood and pacing of the film.

The movie starts off with a chase scene of sorts through the darkness of London set to a track which I honestly thought would be titled “The game is afoot”(Actually called Discombobulate) since it really set the atmosphere for mischief and trouble with its fast paced rhythm. This leads up to a couple of excellent fight scenes where we get to see Holmes plan out a quick and silent slow-mo beatdown on some mook guarding an entrance and that both he and Watson are able to handle themselves even when outnumbered. This opening scene really set the tone for the movie taking characters who to much of society have generally been thinkers rather than men of action.

Unfortunately it is right from that point I knew how exactly the story would play out. The main plot was shamelessly straightforward for a Holmes story and lost focus to all the other excellent bits of the movie. Even the subplots seemed far more interesting than figuring out what Lord Blackwood was planning since it was the standard world domination plot with a fake wizard element added in. The little gimmicks that the villain used as “magic” were actually pretty easy to figure out though I admittedly was wrong on the crypt’s slab being detonated from the inside and that mercury was how he killed in the bath scene.

Of course, it’s not the story that we’re coming to the cinema to watch but rather the character himself. To this day, I have never seen anyone else play the character as properly as Downey has in this film. All of the TV shows, Movies and Cartoons featuring Holmes always played him as a humble genius with impeccable manners. The Holmes I followed through on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s adventures was actually a strange obsessive smartass(Not as obvious an ass as House but still an ass) of a coke addict whose remarks can come across as polite or offhandedly offensive depending on how you interpret what he says. Holmes was the guy who camped out alone in a cave(As far as I can remember it was in the Hound of the Baskervilles) to keep an eye on his suspects and did whatever he felt like doing to solve his cases. This Holmes is completely faithful to the original incarnation of the character with an added bit of badass sprayed onto him and his companion. I remembered Watson as the loyal best friend who held an admiration for Holmes’ intellect and that he wasn’t quite as brawny as Jude Law made him out to be in the film. Then again, Watson did serve his country in Afganistan prior to meeting Holmes and was a mean shot with that revolver of his so maybe it wasn’t all that far from the original.

What really tickled me about the film were the numerous references they make to the books and certain events in history. I really liked how they threw in Lestrade’s comment on how Holmes would have made an excellent criminal in another life. They even brought in Professor Moriarty as an annoyingly tempting sequel hook to which I’m hoping will end up with a trilogy of films. I noticed they didn’t throw in Holmes’ “Elementary my dear Watson…” phrase which he is famous for but that could be justified with how faithful they wanted this Holmes to be to the original since sources say that he never actually said that in the books. I do wonder if they were also trying to make a Guy Fawkes reference in there as well considering the fact that the story takes place during November and that parliament and barrels of gunpowder were featured but it seems that was just a red herring.

In the end, the movie played out more like an appetizer for the main course since the mystery and plot take a backseat to the excellent characters and all the action we get. I felt like they should have also given us a slow-mo fight scene at the end of the climax rather than a straight out confrontation since the two scenes we get to see that happen were simply marvelous. It was pretty damn smart of them to adapt the story somewhere in the middle rather than give us an origin story but it was also pretty damn stupid of them not deliver a mystery fitting of the master detective himself. They have a lot of things set up for the sequel as well with the secret organization, Moriarty, Irene Adler, Watson’s marriage and Mycroft Holmes prepped up for future use and I can only expect greater things from the sequel. All in all, the movie was a fun romp through London featuring a couple of badasses taking down an evil fake magician trying to take over the world that simply leaves you hungry for more. Serously, I’m starving for the sequel right now – it was just that awesome.

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