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I stayed away from this for a long time because I'm an old codger who
loves the old Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes movies and
from the trailer, I thought this was going to be another far-out Robert
Downey Jr. flick that would be more science fiction/FX movie than a
good Holmes mystery. Well, it was....BUT the movie was still very
entertaining and I really liked it......and I'd certainly watch it
Yeah, it was a little weird seeing Holmes and Watson duking it out numerous times like they were members of The Expendables, but once that was accepted, I could settle back and enjoy the action, the dialog, the special effects, the fascinating characters and sharp picture and visuals, making it all surprisingly-fun ride. All the major characters in here were very entertaining, and all the while, Holmes still retained his incredible powers of deduction, which were a hoot to hear.
So, for older people who expect a very sedate Holmes and Watson, either skip the film or loosen up and just be ready for two hours of wild entertainment.
Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) go head
to head with the evil Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) who has plans for
world domination. A lady from Holmes' past named Irene Adler (Rachel
McAdams) tries to help them--or is she?
OK--I have no problem with trying to reinvent Sherlock Holmes. I've read all the books multiple times and have seen all the movies and most of the TV shows. Trying to update him is not a bad idea BUT he should retain some of what made the character famous. Ritchie obviously doesn't agree and completely destroys the detective. For starters Downey Jr. (a wonderful actor) plays Holmes all wrong. He seems to be drugged out at all times and mumbles his lines in a half-hearted way. Where's the intensity Holmes is supposed to have when he's on a case? Downey shows none of that. His face never changes expression! Even worse is McAdams as Adler. She looks hideous and gives a worse performance than Downey! She is so annoying that, at one part, when she's about to be killed with Holmes trying to save her I felt like saying, "Oh let her die!" The plot itself makes little sense and is needlessly convoluted. Also the film looks grubby, poorly lit and just plain ugly! Perhaps this was an accurate portrayal of Victorian England but this is supposed to be escapism NOT a documentary!
On the plus side Law is great as Watson. He doesn't play him like a bumbling fool--he's young, intelligent and Holmes' equal. He also tells Holmes off in some great parts. Also Strong gives a very strong (sorry) performance as Blackwood. The man is tall and just oozes evil. Also there are multiple action sequences with Holmes and Watson battling the bad guys silly. Now turning Holmes and Watson into action heroes may seem dumb but these are the only parts of the film with any life! Director Ritchie is known for shooting fights and violence in a very convincing way and it works here. These set pieces look like they belong in a dumb summer blockbuster film but at least they add some much needed jolts of life to this movie. However I was looking at my watch a lot during the last hour and could have cared less what was happening. I almost walked out and I NEVER do that! This gets a 2 for the action and some good acting...but I was bored silly. Not recommended.
Sherlock Holmes is positing itself as a new beginning for the iconic
Baker Street detective, even going so far as to set itself up for a
sequel with its series' most recognizable villain much in the same way
that Batman Begins did with the Joker. Only problem is, it's not an
entirely effective reboot. For starters, it's plagued by a blockbuster
mindset, which means for every interesting scene featuring Holmes'
skills of deduction, we're treated to a scene of fisticuffs, or
explosions, or large propelling CGI objects -- such as ship anchors --
whizzing by and narrowly missing the heroes.
Some of these action sequences might have been somewhat amusing if they didn't feel so stale and recycled, or if their special effects were actually special and didn't appear to be so outdated. When you open your film against Avatar, make sure it doesn't look like it just stepped out of The Mummy's school of special effects wizardry. The excess of bad CGI pulled me right out of the movie.
The strengths? There are two: Robert Downey, Jr. (in a role he was so obviously right for, that I'm surprised it took us so long to notice), and Jude Law. Downey's been on a roll lately, and this is his second assured franchise since Iron Man, but Law is receiving less attention for his performance, which is a great foil to Downey's eccentric Holmes. The two of them have effortless chemistry and I'd watch a sequel just for more of their back-and-forth bickering.
But that's really the most credit that can be given. The film's too long -- it didn't need to be more than two hours -- and the script just goes through all the most predictable motions. Guy Ritchie's direction is distinct enough that the picture's style avoids being generic, but he's too proud of his slow-motion sequences and when he does decide to film an action sequence at full speed, it's edited so quick and tight that you can't really tell who's punching whom. When Sherlock rescues the Damsel In Distress (Rachel McAdams, giving what may easily be the worst performance of her career), the whole thing happens so fast that whatever clever reasoning he just employed to save her is lost on the audience.
Sherlock Holmes is more Van Helsing than Batman Begins, but there's a lot of room for improvement here, and I smell franchise potential. With a better director (or, at least, the same director willing to sacrifice his directorial vices for the sake of the story), and a better screenplay, the next one could be a real delight. This one's just a fairly passable end-of-the-year distraction, rendered worthy of a home viewing thanks to strong performances lost amidst a clutter of gratuitous action and CGI.
I took my three kids to see this movie and we had a good time. But as
their dad I can read their true reactions; i.e., "good" has several
meanings, degrees, shades, etc., and I don't believe they thought it
was anything special, extraordinary, etc.
My problem was it just was not a Sherlock Holmes film, what with the extraordinary action scenes, the mild humor, and, especially, the diabolical plot line of taking over the world. Not to mention Holmes never had anything approaching a romantic interest.
I understand the argument that the film introduced Sherlock Holmes to a new audience and needed some "jazzing up" to compete with other films. But for those of us who grew up with Basil Rathbone playing Holmes, the subtlety, nuance, and suspense was entirely missing.
Next up, Vigil Mortessen plays Tarzan as Spiderman.
Guy Ritchie is the kind of director who likes to show off. This doesn't always serve his story. The "entertainment" can sometimes get in the way. His Sherlock Holmes is much ado about nothing. There is lots of clever here, a big budget and great actors as well as the best tech staff one could hope for but it's curiously not engaging. I admired it from a distance, fell asleep twice and ultimately did not care for it or any of the characters in it. It's all coming at you, wowing you, pushing you back, away from itself when it should be pulling you in. But it is impossible to get pulled in when Mr. Ritchie can't stop trying to impress. Just tell the story, Mr. Ritchie, and stop trying to show me how good you are. Show off.
On this film, I basically agree with the NY Times review- mildly
diverting but falls way short of its potential, although all the people
I saw it with liked it.
You have Sherlock Holmes, one of the great characters of literature, two fine actors in Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law turning in excellent performances (although Downey was very hard to understand), and some well done period art direction and costumes, but the film was borderline boring. Why? It seems geared to an audience of adolescent boy- there's very little intelligence behind it- the action scenes are over the top and I didn't buy them, and the plot, as it were, or the conspiracy, is a roll-your-eyes, sophomoric Dan Brown rip off. Who cares? How about a simple, elegant, well-filmed murder mystery? Not for today's audiences I guess, who demand ever-increasing incarnations of evil and bigger doses of gratuitous violence.
This is a middling, mainstream Hollywood blockbuster- just another product of the "industry". If that's what you like, or if you are under 30, you will probably enjoy it. If you are a Conan Doyle fan, or enjoy a good mystery, you will be disappointed.
I'll start with the good: the indoor sets are magnificent. Outdoors is
great, too, in the narrower alleyways (though it seems like we keep
seeing the same horses over and over again), but for wide shots, an
excessively CGI-ish feel interfered with my suspension of disbelief.
And Robert Downey, Jr. is a magnificent talent, who held my attention
when he was on the screen, as he always does, despite the weakness of
the character and the writing in this film.
That's as positive as I can be about this movie, on which I have just wasted what felt like a few more hours than the clock said it was.
It was just so very boring and, in the large ways, unfocused. There was no coherent narrative frame, just a lot of random action, bouncing around within the confines of some vague story that seemed almost beside the point, nothing to do with what was happening on the screen most of the time, which seemed to be more about replicating as many action movie clichés as possible. We journeyed through Bond movie clichés, Vietnam movie clichés, buddy comedy clichés, with touches of Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean.
There was small-scale cleverness in some of the lines. On the larger narrative scale, though, it was tone-deaf. Where we never got to was the film maker using film as a medium to tell me a story that he thought was worth telling.
I suppose if you want mindless action with the magnificent Downey and a soupçon of Doyle, you could do worse. But this movie is not the good stuff, and it will not endure.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sherlock Holmes has been identified by the Guinness Book of World
Records as one of the most frequently used fictional characters in
history. Appearing first in the 60 stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
he has subsequently went on to make hundreds (if not thousands) of
appearances in novels, film, television, and radio, with the part
essayed by a number of very talented actors, with Basil Rathbone and
Jeremy Brett the most notable. Adventures on the big screen have been
slim pickings for a while (the last really notable one was 1985's
"Young Sherlock Holmes", obviously a bit of a break with traditional
formulas) as TV adaptations have been the go-to medium. This new entry
aims to jumpstart a new cinema franchise and introduce Holmes as a
living character to a new generation of fans (as opposed to just being
a cultural touchstone), with the assistance of talents like Robert
Downey Jr. and Jude Law. This has been met with understandable wariness
by longtime fans, but I would say that overall the movie succeeds
admirably at its goal. Some spoilers follow.
The bare bones of the plot (summarized in innumerable places elsewhere): Holmes (Downey Jr.) and Watson (Law) crack the case of a series of ritualistic murders and arrest the man responsible, Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong; doing a lot of villain-work this year, and looking like a British crossbreed of Andy Garcia and Stanley Tucci). However, even after Blackwood is hung by the neck until dead, trouble continues, and it appears that he may indeed have risen from the grave thanks to the black magic he claimed to possess. Holmes is back on the trail of the seemingly-resurrected villain, while former acquaintance Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) reenters the picture, in the employ of an anonymous stranger. And on the domestic front, Watson is getting engaged to the nice Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly) and preparing to move out of his Baker Street bachelor flat, much to Holmes' annoyance.
I would say that this film has been somewhat poorly-represented by its trailers and promotional material (not poorly served, though, if the box office returns are any measure), which plays up the action to a point that will turn off many diehards (though one imagines they'll still see it to feel the joy of bilious outrage). While there is certainly more physicality to this production than to your average BBC adaptation, director Guy Ritchie retains the core of Holmes as a cerebral man (and, truth be told, Doyle's original knew his way around a fight, even if the author didn't spare much prose on depicting it). Tastes change a bit, and, so long as the core of the character isn't lost, it's fine by me to show him in a few scraps.
Downey's Holmes is a brilliant/eccentric mind with addiction issues, and rather poor hygiene (I tend to think of him as being more precise, even when troubled, but whatever). But he's always on top of things. Saints be praised, though, for Jude Law's Watson, who will hopefully go a long way toward rescuing the character from the bumbling ghetto created by Nigel Bruce's characterization and carried on ever since. Law gives us a strong, confident Watson who is an indispensible part of Holmes' operation, and possessed of considerable deductive prowess of his own. The film really hangs on the Holmes/Watson interaction, and Downey and Law hit it off marvelously. The film opens in media res (a smart move, really; it's not like anyone is unaware of who these characters are and how they work), and you get a palpable sense of two people who've been working together for a very long time. The ladies threatening to intrude on this male-bonding exercise, McAdams and Reilly, are both fine, though the writers sometimes seem a bit insure of what to do with Irene (they know enough about the mythos to know that Holmes isn't the romantic type, even if this is a bit more in that direction than most depictions, so this is a fairly mild case of Catwoman). Mark Strong glowers and growls sufficiently as the villain.
While heavier on the action than your typical Holmes story, and a lot grimier in its production design (true to life, one imagines; outside of the upper class, Victorian London wasn't the cleanest of places), Ritchie and his writers retain a lot of the core Holmes story aspects. A villain with seemingly mystical powers must be confronted, and Holmes' logical mind must inevitably pierce the veil and uncover the rational explanation behind it all (outlined in a marvelous little climactic scene). And, as we find out, Holmes has been slowly building his case through the whole movie, but rarely letting anything on. The film also does a pretty good job of making Holmes' end-of-film explanation visually interesting, rather than just a dull monologue.
The film ends with some quite obvious sequel setup, and given the box office numbers, it's pretty likely we'll see a "Sherlock Holmes 2" in a few years; I welcome it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I read all the positive reviews of "Sherlock Holmes" here on IMDb,
I actually genuinely question the validity and sincerity of the reviews
posted here. I envision a grand plot, wherein the producers of this
film know it is a bomb, so they send the word out for all the family,
friends, and associates of those with a vested interest in the movie's
success to come to IMDb and post disingenuous positive reviews..... An
elaborate attempt to salvage some financial success from a movie that
is an absolute stinker.
It worked on me. I went because the film had an average 8 out of 10 rating here on IMDb. Something is wrong there folks. There is no way those reviews can be genuine.
If you have not yet wasted your time and money to see this film, please trust me, it is TERRIBLE. The plot is convoluted and boring, the characters ridiculous, and everything that happens in it is contrived and silly. The only reason I gave it 2 rather than 1 out of 10, is because I found some of the sets of late 19th century England to be mildly interesting.
I went to the movie with a group of six people, the youngest being 15. The movie was universally hated in my group. I actually heard someone snoring in the theater during the film. The silliness in this film reminded of bombs such as "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", "Wild, Wild West" and movies of that nature.
I realize people have different tastes, but I do not understand how anyone could honestly give this movie a positive review. I hope posting my opinion will save you from wasting the time and money to see it. It is too late for me.
By-passing the outraged and ignorant who seem to think the only Holmes
is the one played so well by Basil Rathbone many years ago, this movie
nonetheless lacks a great deal of entertainment value, and treats the
audience as if they were dim-wits. Having said that, I am delighted
that Watson is portrayed as something other than a bumbling foil, but
more of Jude Law's role later.
The quantity of expository dialog grates after the first few minutes, and the attempts to show Holmes' thinking by using voice-overs becomes tedious. There are better ways of doing this, but if you're pitching at a CSI-style audience (as a retired forensic scientist, I can assure you all that we do not lean on our instruments, and discuss the basic principles of their function with each other), then perhaps the laziness or ineptness of the script-writer(s) is understandable.
Downey appears to be reprising his role as Stark in Iron Man, but with Jude Law as his near-constant companion just to provide some modicum of variety.
The action comes quickly, and with little let-up, but this is no handicap to the enjoyment. The somewhat washed-out colors and the fact the scenes are almost always in dim locations means much of the movement is hard to discern in the gloom and surely action needs to be clearly seen? The sets themselves show obvious artifacts of cgi and after pieces like Gladiator and more recently the brilliant Avatar, the audience is left feeling either budgets prevented the job being done properly or more dangerously, that the studio didn't care, thinking the drawcards of Holmes, Downey and Law were sufficient.
Though Downey tries hard, it is Law who comes across as more convincing and is the focus of attention whenever the two are together. His portrayal is the highlight of the movie. The lowlight is, obviously, the handcuffed Downey, naked on the bed with only a teddy-bear for modesty. This is US-sit-com stuff and the fact such a tired, clichéd scene features heavily in previews shows the utter lack of imagination the scriptwriters put into their work. And of course, the giant who wreaks mayhem and is near-invincible has been done to death. Is it such a crime to bring something new to the audience?
The climax was both predictable and tedious, but thankfully has one recommendation: it showed the end was near. There are many movies where the talents of the cast are wasted. Sadly, this can so easily be added to the list, and must be done so immediately.
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