Sherlock Holmes (2009) Poster

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It saddens me ...
paperback_wizard26 December 2009
... not the movie, but the number of self-professed Holmes aficionados who apparently have no knowledge of Holmes. For the record, Holmes was a miserable, irresponsible drug addict who did indeed sleep on the floor, insult his best friend, experiment on his dog, and never ever wore a deerstalker's cap (at least, not until television was invented). He was a brawler who practiced martial arts and was as likely to slum around in the filthiest of rags as he was a suit.

It wasn't until after Doctor Watson took him in hand that he truly refined himself and became a "respectable" member of society. And yes, we can tell that this movie takes place THAT early in their relationship because Watson has not yet married his wife (the retconning did annoy me, too, by the way, but you just can't avoid a little re-imagining here and there).

Speaking of unavoidable, Irene Adler, Holmes' one uncapturable (is that a word?), simply had to be cast as a potential love interest. The flirting, the romance, and the near-make-out session were irresistible to the director (and to all of the audience who're honest with themselves).

That being said, I felt Robert Downey, Jr. played Sherlock Holmes to perfection. His characteristic caustic attitude towards Lestrade and even Watson at times was exactly how I'd imagine him. He gives several summations of his observations and deductions that brought Holmes to life in an almost unparalleled way. His fight scenes (preceded the first few times by superhuman calculations) show both the mental and physical sides of Holmes in ways that Watson's notes can't quite convey, but at which they constantly hint.

As for Watson himself, Jude Law delivered a wonderful performance. I was a little skeptical of how well he fought, given Watson's wartime injury, but his character and demeanor were entirely on the nose. His loyalty to Holmes despite his frustrations with him could not have been captured more expertly, I feel. No one, no matter how patient or forgiving, could endure Holmes forever without the occasional confrontation. The original Holmes, after all, was not above insulting his best friend or even deriding his deductive capabilities at times. Nevertheless, Watson never could abandon his friend in his time of need.

This version (or vision, if you will) of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's greatest creation may be more swashbuckling, more thrilling, and more edgy than any other incarnation, but that doesn't make it any less faithful to the original. Aside from a little revisionist history in the cases of the female leads, nothing is that far out of the ordinary; and no amount of references to Madonna will change that.
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They Finally Got It Exactly Right!
SylvesterFox00727 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Nearly hundreds of actors have played Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson, and it may seem rash to call Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law the best Holmes-and-Watson-duo so far. But I've been a Sherlock Holmes fan my whole life, and most of the portrayals I've seen of the character only focus on an aspect or two of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character. In Guy Ritchie's film, as in Doyle's "canon", Sherlock Holmes is an avid boxer, a martial artist, a dabbler in many sciences, and a master of disguise. Most importantly, he's an expert in logic and deduction. He playfully torments his housekeeper Ms. Hudson (Geraldine James) and shares an antagonistic but symbiotic relationship with police Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan).

The movie opens with Holmes and Watson apprehending serial killing Satanist Lord Blackwood (played broodingly by Mark Strong). Blackwood is executed, but when he seemingly rises from the dead, the deductive duo must determine whether it's a supernatural occurrence or if there's a logical explanation. It's exactly the type of mystery Doyle would have devised, with plenty of twists and opportunities for Holmes to show off his genius as he races to stop a plot to take over England and (gasp!) America. Everything from the experiments Holmes performs in his Baker Street flat to his climatic revelation of the mystery on the Tower Bridge seems perfectly in line with Doyle's writing.

One of the only departures from the canon that bothered me was Sherlock's introduction to Dr. Watson's fiancée, Mary Morstan, played as a delicate English rose by Kelly Reilly. In the stories, Mary was Holmes' client in "The Sign of Four" before Holmes first encountered Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) in "A Scandal in Bohemia." Then again, the continuity of the stories was rarely important to filmmakers, or even to Sir Arthur, so I'm just nitpicking.

As a film on its own merits, "Sherlock Holmes" is almost perfect. The movie's opening shot grabs you, and Guy Ritchie's directing stays gripping all the way through the end titles. His version of Victorian London is moody and atmospheric. Hans Zimmer's quirky score blends well with the film's tone and Downey Jr.'s off-kilter Holmes. Meanwhile, Jude Law transforms Dr. Watson from the bumbling comic relief of most movies into a cool, competent sidekick. Perhaps owing to his own considerable acting chops, he's the rare Watson who manages to be as interesting and watchable as Holmes. When he leaps into action, he relies on a sword-cane and a trusty revolver, while Sherlock favors a riding crop (which die-hard fans will recall was his preferred method of self-defense in the canon). Rachel McAdams manages to tweak Sherlock's classic adversary into a feisty action heroine. All the while, another familiar adversary skulks in the shadows.

Even when Sherlock Holmes feels a little bit more like James Bond, he doesn't feel any less like Sherlock Holmes. Ritchie finds a way to depict Sherlock's fighting as a mental exercise as much as it's a physical feat. In the same way, though "Sherlock Holmes" is grander and more commercial than Guy Ritchie's usual films, it doesn't feel any less like Guy Ritchie.
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pasholy200120 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I'm rating a 1/10 to counterbalance all the 9/10 reviews. This movie was just another stupid, boring action movie. I might of given it more stars if it wasn't named "Sherlock Holmes".

1. The characters in the movie were not Holmes and Watson. Maybe Dr. House and Jackie Chan. I read some reviews saying that this is the best portrayal of Holmes you've ever seen, seriously? Yes, he was eccentric, but he wasn't a smug, childish, karate champion, witty.... He was a proper British gentlemen. Why does he always have a stupid, baffled expression in the movie? You know the one with his eyes wide open.

2. I have to agree with another reviewer, Conan Doyle mostly had believable explanations. Not some remote control, flammable water, and lot's of other junk that they didn't have in the late 1800's.

3. I hate that everything nowadays has to be an action movie. Holmes and Watson were not crime fighting ninjas. I've read many Holmes books and I've yet to find one where he goes around kicking ass all over the place. Next we'll see a Jesus movie where there are lots of explosions.

This movie is good for the masses, but not if you are an actual thinking human being.
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Downey and Law are on the case
C-Younkin22 December 2009
Do Guy Ritchie and Sherlock Holmes fit? Why, it's elementary my dear movie fan. This is one of the most entertaining thrillers of the year and the fantastic Downey Jr. and Law are a big part of the reason why. They take top honors as the years best bro-mance, arguing like an old married couple while deep down knowing that they'd be lost without each other. Downey is Holmes and Law is sidekick Dr. Watson, embroiled in a plot where the black-magic-practicing Lord Blackwood (a perfectly grave and menacing Mark Strong) has risen from the dead after being sentenced to hang. Rachel McAdams also shows up as Irene Adler, the only criminal who has ever gotten the best of Holmes.

Downey Jr. brings quick-wit, cunning, and a scruffy toughness to a role long seen as stuffy and dry, while Law a distinguished charm that, at times, spills over into testy aggressiveness (which is funniest at Holmes most annoying). Both toss off the one-liners with ease. Ritchie's directorial style also comes through, from the dark, grimy Victorian- London production values to the violent boxing and martial arts matches. Holmes' mindset (such as the steps he takes to neutralize a suspect, interpret clues, follow the deceptive) also brings out Ritchie's ability to create an ultra-stylized flashback. There are also a few really thrilling action set-pieces involving a boat and an unfinished bridge. The plot, by three screenwriters, is a little on the convoluted side but it gets the job done with plot-twist on-top of plot twist. With all the brutal violence and style, you can be sure this isn't your Grandpa's Sherlock Holmes, but it will have you drooling for a sequel nonetheless.
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A New Sherlock: the Genius Action Hero
ramin9918 December 2010
This movie is entertaining and the big budget showed in the costumes, set decorations, the CGI, etc. all this creating a 19th century atmosphere which was very pleasing to my eyes. The action sequences kept me mindlessly entertained, and the Sherlock Holmes frivolity and eccentricities was somewhat amusing. Now let's see what's bad about this: Firstly, the true Sherlock Holmes is not a fighter, he uses his mind to solve problems instead. He and Dr. Watson have reserved mutual respect for each other, especially Dr. Watson towards his enigmatic friend admiring all the while his amazing intellectual capabilities. I can't believe how bad their relationship is portrayed in the movie, like two stoned teenagers constantly fighting. The Sherlock Holmes character is the major problem with this production: although funny the why was he portrayed like a genius a la Mozart with unkempt hair and disorderly attire is beyond me. The action sequences I guess are a compulsory necessity in a big-budgeted production like this in order to attract teens and make more money for the studios. I blame the success of the Indiana Jones action sequences for this mishap. Just as unfitting for an archaeologist professor, it's also contrary to Sherlock Holmes' reason to use violence. But how else are we gonna have those compulsory big explosions? Lastly, the most important thing of all in a detective story, the case, rings closer to home to the original series, even though the explanations for the supposed supernatural elements at the end are themselves near impossible.

Obviously the creators of this film took great liberties with the poor Sherlock Holmes' character, for he fights like Indiana Jones, laughs like Mozart and thinks somewhat like Sherlock Holmes; I guess he is Sherlock's bad ass, genius double, though not as tall and lanky.
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Actor, and Placement
RResende4 January 2010
Somehow, i've always avoided the cinematic (or TV) presentations of Sherlock Holmes. I find the character fascinating, but i always felt it was more invested in literature, not cinema. His deductions, the way he surrounds the worlds he investigates are a feast for thinking minds. Even when the deductions are over the top (which happens often!) one can't stop smiling at the cleverness. More than that, the character is a perfect piece invested in a clever, irresistible and fascinating world. London. That part is visual, and a good ground to invest a cinematic world. But, unlike for example anything by Agatha Christie, Doyle's cleverness is rooted in pure deductive logic, not on the mechanics of the world. Notice that Christie's crimes are many times a matter of understanding how things happened, spatially (murder on the orient express is the zenith of that). I suppose Doyle formed his mind before cinema had any significant impact on how our minds work.

So the challenge for any modern filmmaker, and actor, who wants to update Holmes, is to make the character more cinematic, more appealing. Several tricks are used here, most of them successful, even if straightforward. One is the most obvious, making Holmes an action character (which actually is in its original dna, even though TV productions usually ignore that). This might be a flop, and make the version laughable, but by now there is a sense of irony and self awareness in Ritchie's films (sincer Lock Stock) that allows him to support a xxi century action figure in Holmes clothing that actually is watchable. A minor trick here is the association of the deduction with the very process of physical fighting, which creates some Matrix moments. Well, their watchable, though not particularly interesting. In the greater arc, there are good action sequences, because, as any competent action these days, considers the elements of the surrounding space, and uses them.

But there are two big things in this film, which take it to new levels of interest.

One is the acting. Jude Law is a clever guy, an interesting actor whose greatest quality is how he merges anonymously with the context he is intended to integrate. He willingly becomes a piece of a larger tapestry, and that really is something to look upon. There are not many actors who can claim they can do this competently. But the king of the game is Downey Jr. He is the gold piece in the puzzle of updating Holmes. There certainly will be a before-after Holmes character, with this film. The man is capable to work his performances on several directions, and each of them is a perfect link to its surroundings. So he gives in to Ritchie's demands, and introduces humour, irony, and self-awareness in the character, to make it usable for the director's winks at ironic action. He invests totally on the creation of a character who merges with the textures of the context, while being distinct from it. And while doing it, he folds us into his game, so we do everything with him, side by side. We deduce, we smile, we run, all with him. So, if the film hadn't other qualities, Downey Jr would still make it worthy, because he, alone, solves one the most basic problems with any film: to find a channel audiences can safely cross into the game someone (director) proposes. He is one of the best ever.

But there is another great thing here, which i suspect has a lot to do with several guys involved in the process of making the film. The result is an incredible sense of placement. London, XIXth century. All those dirty muddy streets, all the dirt. The fascination of the inner locations, namely the midget's laboratory. How those sets are usable, in the action scenes. That's all competent, more than competent. It's perfectly rendered, carefully photographed, it sounds overly artificial, but it's a matter of taste, i suppose. But what was really striking was the use of the London bridge. Notice how it is announced, early in the film, with a similar perspective to the one we'll get in the end. Than, the great sequence, when Irene Adler goes through the sewage, goes up, and we end up with a close up of her, in an unidentified location. The angle opens, we move away, and we are set up in the location for the final fight scene, which in its own merits is interesting enough. So, this was a unique way to actually use an establishing location, instead of merely showing it. I mean, how many films have shown the Eiffel towers? countless. How many actually use it? not so many. This is one of the best London cities we've seen lately.

My opinion: 4/5
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Terrible Casting & Terrible Portrayal of Sherlock Holmes
Andrew21 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was TERRIBLE! It wouldn't have been half as bad if they just didn't call it 'Sherlock Holmes' the way they portrayed him in this movie is NOTHING like the actual character of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is not some buff, a-kicking, bad-a.. He is supposed to be a highly intelligent character and I didn't get that feeling from Downey Jr. AT ALL. I never pictured Sherlock Holmes to be a strong, tiny man & I think they just did completely horrible things with the characters. Story line and plot and all that was not bad at all definitely some good entertainment but NOT using Holmes & Watson as characters, that just completely ruined the movie because that is NOT what those characters are supposed to be like at all! Definitely going to avoid the new one coming out this year I was already disappointed enough in this one definitely know better than to waste my money this time. It makes me sick the way Hollywood takes normal proper characters and completely destroys them in films this was complete blasphemy I'll bet if the original creator of Sherlock Holmes was still alive today he would be very upset!
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As the Crow Flies
David Ferguson27 December 2009
Greetings again from the darkness. Great literature seldom makes for great cinema. The mediums are vastly different. However great literature, in the right hands, can make for very entertaining cinema. Such is the case with Guy Ritchie's interpretation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's greatest character.

Mr. Ritchie provides us with quite a departure from the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce "Holmes and Watson". Here we get dazzling special effects and near super-human feats and stunts. Another twist is that this Holmes here is no meticulous, fastidious bore in real life. In fact, he lives more like a frat boy or rock star - replete with trashed room and bouts of isolation.

What is not missing is Holmes' world class attention to detail. The story here is multi-layered and actually very interesting, if not a bit high-minded and high-concept. The still-under-construction Tower Bridge plays a role in the film and the bleakness and gray of London is captured perfectly.

Of course, I won't reveal any details of the story other than to say the "good" guys are out to get a real bad guy here ... wonderfully played by the always solid Mark Strong, who may or may not be dead. That always makes for an interesting case! Support from Rachel McAdams and Eddie Marsan are fine, but Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law are the real stars as Holmes and Watson. As odd as it seems, they really do have a buddy factor that works well on screen. Downey's physicality has always set him apart from many contemporary actors ... he moves like a dancer and fights like a champion. Jude Law is often too pretty-boy for me, but he really does a nice job of capturing the reluctant sidekick with complimentary skills.

This is a BIG movie! It is made to be a rollicking good time with tons of popcorn munched. Smaller kids will not be able to follow the story, but anyone who has read a Holmes story (and isn't against a little artistic license) should see the film. It is extremely entertaining and fun to watch.
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Sherlock Holmes for the remake generation
joestank1525 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Sherlock Holmes - Based on the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the popular detective is portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. His loyal companion Watson (played superbly by Jude Law) is getting married and Holmes is none too happy. Their antics are put on the shelf because Lord Blackwood (ice cold Mark Strong), a powerful man of the occult world, has committed a series of murders. When he is hung, he rises from the grave and promises to drastically change the world with himself as master. With the future of several countries at stake, it is up to Holmes to stop Blackwood. Downey Jr. disappears into the role like the character does with various disguises. He is completely believable as a detective whose deductive skills are so powerful that, without focus, mundane situations are overwhelming to his psyche. The film and role are his.

Holmes is portrayed as a borderline manic depressive eccentric who cannot function unless he has a goal to accomplish. In other words: Robert Downey Jr. The film has fun exploring the part of Holmes left untouched by the films done by varying Television productions for many years. Namely: the physical side of Holmes. Yes, Holmes is a boxer, stick/sword fighter, and a martial artist. It was in the books, and it is done in this film as well. He flung Moriarty down a chasm with jujitsu in one of the stories for God's sake! It always bothered me that Holmes's eccentricities and drug-use seemed to be shelved on the screen in favor of a more well-put together stern man who would never deign to get his hands dirty. Holmes was never meant to be a symbol of stiff-upper lip Britain, yet that's what he became. The obvious reasons behind these choices were probably finances (or lack thereof concerning fight co-ordination) and censorship. It's funny how interpretations work. Icons are taken down such a strange path that, when someone decides to bring them to where they started, the old looks new. Batman was always noir. Bond was a quipless suave killer. Holmes could fight.

A down and dirty Holmes is more interesting (surprise!) to a 21st century audience than an omniscient uppercrust man eternally in a bathrobe. This Holmes is fairly true to the original character. It may not be true to the Holmes some people have in their heads, but that version cherry picks elements of Doyle's original creation. Actually this Watson is not as close to the original version (younger with no limp), but this Watson ties Holmes to reality, is less of an audience fill-in (read: a dumb shmoe) and kicks some major ass.

The film is riveting with only a few parts that actually lag. Huge explanations are saved until the end. We realize we have seem more or less all that Holmes has seen, and yet he gleaned far far more with his powerful intellect. Guy Ritchie's directing is vast and yet detail oriented. It's fairly comprehensible yet there is enough in the dialogue and character relationships to warrant future viewings.

Sherlock Holmes is smart and entertaining, a combination which always works better than either adjective by itself. This is an invigorating re-boot that reminds us why the detective is such an icon. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law have perfect chemistry like an old married couple. Mark Strong plays a chilling villain and one lament is that, as part of the film is spent trying to find him, his performance is surprisingly brief. Rachel McAdams is the one part of casting that feels disingenuous. She's not quite devilish or sensuous enough to be the one woman that outsmarted Sherlock Holmes. Still, a thoroughly entertaining film for the head and heart. I look forward to the inevitable sequel. A-
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Dull, over-bearing update of classic literary series
davideo-214 September 2010
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) finally catches the elusive Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who's been responsible for a series of murders and occult black magic use in 19th century England, and sees him, or apparently sees him executed. But when it appears the super-villain has mysteriously risen from the grave, Holmes and his nagging but ever loyal sidekick Dr. Watson (Jude Law) must use all their detective know how and skill to solve the mystery while dodging obstruction from every corner of London society.

A big screen adaptation for 21st century audiences of Arthur Conon Doyle's legendary literary detective was an unusual change of direction for southern hot shot Guy Ritchie to take on, but he's gone at it with his usual gusto, leaving no stone unturned and striving for the most professional job he can get. Unfortunately, his SH is a bewildering mess, a long, heavy, humourless affair that is curiously short on entertainment value.

Much of the dialogue is probably true to the style Doyle originally used in his novels, but it is nonetheless baffling and over-whelming even to someone like me who isn't much of a lover for slang. It manages to be a lot of style with no real substance, and for a 'blockbuster' doesn't give you a lot to be on the edge of your seat about. Performances wise, Downey Jr. tries to get under the skin of the lead character, but doesn't stand out and does a questionable cockney accent, while Law is as bland and unremarkable as ever as the sidekick. Even support like Eddie Marsan and Kelly Reilly can't do anything. Strong is good as the villain, practically playing the role in his sleep, and things do perk up a bit at the end. Overall, though, Ritchie should stick to gangster films. **
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