Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
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The story has young student doctor John Watson arriving at a boarding school in Victorian London. He meets, for the very first time, a brilliant young student named Sherlock Holmes and they rapidly become friends. At the same time, a series of bizarre murders have been going on close to the school. In each case, people have had terrible hallucinations and in desperate states of panic have inadvertently killed themselves. Holmes and Watson investigate, and uncover an ancient cult which is responsible for the killings.
The film has its share of problems. For one thing, purists will know that the very first meeting of Holmes and Watson was described at the start of the book A Study in Scarlet, and didn't take place in a school. Some of the performances are overly hammy, particularly Freddie Jones in yet another of his wild-eyed characterisations. The idea of a huge pyramid being ingeniously concealed beneath a London warehouse is hard to swallow (surely someone would have noticed them building a construction of this size in such a tightly-packed city). However, the problems can be forgiven because the film moves at a lively pace and is invested with lots of clever dialogue and stirring action. There's even a touch of humour (something lacking from the original Conan Doyle novels). One scene in particular is most amusing, when young Watson is shot with an hallucinatory dart and imagines an army of living cream buns jumping into his mouth! The climactic duel on the ice is very excitingly staged too. There's also a surprisingly downbeat event at the end which thankfully strips the film of the typical 80s sentimentality. This is agreeable and entertaining stuff.
This story took place at a school for boys called Brompton Academy.
A dart with hallucinogenic drug made victims see scary things when hit by this dart.Things come alive that attack the victim. A cooked chicken, statues of bats or bird and more. One victim jumps out a window one runs out of church and gets killed by a stage coach and one stabs himself thinking creatures are in his shirt harming him. The special affects in it were amazing. Holmes could not attend the funeral of one of the victims because of his expulsion from Brompton Academy.
Watson's experience after being shot with the drug was funny. A grave opened up at the cemetery that had all kinds of pastries on shelves. The pastries started jumping off the shelf,on to the ground & Watson talking to each other. They were all different sizes and shapes with big eyes and some pastries started shoving other pastries in to Watson mouth cherry cream and all. Really humorous.
Earlier in the movie Watson finds a dart blowpipe which belongs to an Egyptian cult worshiping Osiris god of the underworld. This cult sacrifices live people in a hot substance. Sherlock finds this temple and stops the sacrifice and escapes. Later he realizes there is a cult operating in this city which is causing the deaths of men that knew each other.
Sherlock was in love in this movie which at the end it said the writers did not know what young Sherlock would have been like and that they just respectably put some things in.
This film was very violent and tense. It is about 145 minutes long.
It was like one of the Indiana Jones movies with the cult members running for their life and the building falling down.
This is one movie that did not disappoint me but scared the pastry out of me.
This stirring , fast-paced film is packed with noisy action , adventures , thrills , tension and results to be quite entertaining . It's a genuine ripping yarn with much suspense , intrigue and outstanding surprises . Nicholas Rowe is nice as obstinate and intelligent young Holmes as well as Alex Cox as timid and easy frightened John Watson . Some images are very creepy and eerie and developed in ¨Indiana Jones and the temple of Doom¨ style , for that reason is rated PG-13 for violence and crude scenes . Spectacular special effects by Kit West and Pixar Animation Studios making 'the glass man sequence' and puppets by David Allen . Furthermore visual effects supervisor by Dennis Muren with some of the firsts , images made by means of computer generator . As this one is considered to be the first feature film to have a completely CGI (computer graphics image) character : the knight coming out of the stained glass window . And intervention by Industrial Light & Magic (company run by George Lucas) animated the scene , overseen by John Lasseter in a very early film credit for Pixar . As the "Stained Glass Knight" took Industrial Light & Magic artists 4 months to create . Atmospheric score fitting to action by Bruce Broughton and London symphonic Orchestra . Well written by Chris Columbus and lavishly produced by Steven Spielberg with his usual collaborators , Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy . The picture was well directed by Barry Levinson . Youth and little boys are likely to enjoy this fun film.
When young John Watson starts mid term at a London Prep school, he is greeted first by a tall slender lad of about sixteen. Sherlock Holmes proceeds to tell Watson all about himself before they have exchanged hellos. The stunned Watson admires the older lad from that moment on.
At first reluctant to involve himself in Holmes schemes, Watson finds himself up to his neck in a series of murders, as he trots beside the lanky Holmes. When they rescue a man from nearly killing himself to destroy an imagined attack, they are told a strange tale of betrayal and vengeance. When he attempts to get Sergeant Lestrade (Ashton-Griffiths) involved in solving the murders of several men, Lestrade calls them suicides and angrily orders Holmes out of his office.
That is only the beginning of an adventure that takes the boys to the notorious Wapping district where a nefarious cult of murderous religious nuts, led by the cruel and mysterious Eh Tar (Higgins), is doing heinous things to young ladies, including - to his horror, Elizabeth Hardy (Ward) Sherlock's first love! The cast is excellent, the period London sets and costumes are great and the direction by Barry Levinson (The Natural, Rain Man) is commendable. All told, a satisfying entry into the Holmesian legend. Might be a bit intense for very young children but otherwise a fine family film. I Heartily recommend seeing this film.
** 1/2 out of ****
Chris Columbus' story (writer of "A Night on the Town" and "Home Alone" - which were both much more fun) is naive, silly and borrows far too much from other Spielberg productions, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" being one of them. The cast are unable to lift proceedings also, and one has to wonder how a director of Barry Levinson's class ever became involved in this.
The only thing left to do is shake one's head and hope that Mr. Doyle isn't watching.
Friday, August 12, 1994 - Video
The first 30 minutes of Young Sherlock Holmes are fine. It gives us a charming and pleasant introduction to a teenage Holmes and how he meets John Watson. We are also introduced to Elisabeth, Holmes' love interest. There are some laughs to be and some shocks which are generated by an array fun-disgusting special effects. During this part of the movie, the filmmakers take time to set up the premise of the mystery that Holmes and his buddies must solve. When the journey gets underway however, Young Sherlock Holmes takes a nosedive. The story becomes silly and unrealistic, and it resort to clichés and badly choreographed action sequences. Holmes loses most of his charm and wit and he gets rather tiring. Watson ends up doing more complaining than he does thinking, and Elisabeth becomes almost literally brain dead. The climax is weak, and the ending is even weaker.
A secondary problem with the movie, is how inaccurate its portrayal of Victorian England is. For the majority of people, this will probably go unnoticed, but for historians, Young Sherlock Holmes will be a pain to watch.
The movie has a clever premise, as well as some quirky and charming moments, but it misses the mark in it's attempt to be what it tries to be, a enjoyable little adventure for a general audience. The only thing in Young Sherlock Holmes that cannot be found in any other movie is the knight.
Within the first 20 minutes or so, there's a definite impression that the "special effects" are the real star, and that the whole bit with "hallucinations" was created solely to cram as many of them in as possible. When a movie's not about believable people, there's no way it can be more more than a cartoon.
The actors here--given that they're mainly younger--don't have much of a chance in competing with the effects or working with the bad writing. The cardboard "Sherlock Holmes" character lacks the wit and cleverness of the real Holmes, and considering the original's inerrant sense of applied logic, the new version is a under-developed, bumbling sub-amateur. The Young Sherlock just isn't INTELLIGENT.
With weak performances and an unhealthy over-reliance on effects, only a strong thread of logical storyline could hold it all together, but there's not one. Not much that happens is really believable in any way. Being a fantasy shouldn't be a license to make everything totally ridiculous, but that's exactly what happens here. The script couldn't have looked good on paper, and someone should've noticed that early on.
There's a scene early on where Young Sherlock's "wits" are tested to discover a hidden object somewhere on a huge school campus within one hour; it's utterly unbelievable that A. He'd bother accepting such a ridiculous and impossible challenge, or B. that he'd solve it at all, given nothing whatsoever to work with. When it's explained exactly HOW it's solved, it's so patently absurd that even young children will start asking questions.
CAUTION--SPOILER AHEAD! SPOILER AHEAD!
So why is the girl killed at the end, so she can't ride off into the sunset with Sherlock, or is Young Holmes not supposed to like girls? If viewers care at all about her character (which probably isn't likely), then they should wonder why she was shot for no good reason at all. Then we get a closeup of Holmes' single, solitary tear...CHOKE!
This movie embodies the adage "Never mind the quality, feel the width"--or in this case just look at the obvious and overdone special effects and the heck with the people. There's plenty of action--things moving around--and gobs of noise, but no substance here at all. There are better ways to spend two hours of one's life than willingly undergoing this sort of torture masquerading as entertainment.
This was an attempt to bring the cult of Holmes to a young audience, not to the pleasure of the Holmes estate judging by the number of disclaimers at the start and end of the film. The main bit of plot revolves around the use of the drug which allows the film to have a series of effects scenes to keep the children happy. The plot is full of holes and even some of Holmes "logic" that he explains doesn't make any sense (check out how he finds the trophy near the start to see how lazy the script is). The identity of the secret boss can be easily guessed an hour before he is revealed.
The leads are mixed. Alan Cox's Watson is very good - believable and likeable. Rowe, however is a terrible Holmes. Most of his dialogue sounds like he's reading an autocue, and the rest is delivered with a terrible air of arrogance that makes him totally unlikeable. He looks down on everyone else and reminded me of a spoilt public school brat - nothing like the gentleman sleuth that is Holmes. I think that Rowe is the reason that we had several disclaimers pointing out that this Holmes is not based on any of Arthur Conan Doyle's work.
Overall this is too scary for children and too illogical for adults, but may entertain 8-15 year olds. For the rest of us it is mildly diverting.
The first three-quarters of the movie is a wonderful Holmsian adventure, full of deduction and growing friendship, as we see young Holmes exercise his slightly arrogant intelligence to put an insufferably superior student named Dudley in his place, assist an eccentric inventor, find tentative Victorian love with the inventor's niece, discover a pattern of assassination in the deaths of four elderly men, deal with a lazy Lestrade and a friendly fencing master, and establish a friendship with his young follower, Watson. The high-point is probably Holmes acceptance of a challenge from Dudley to locate where Dudley has hidden the school's fencing trophy...in no more than 60 minutes. The game is afoot as Holmes examines minute particles of...what?, locates snowy footprints in the school quadrangle, examines the school's kitchen...all with the clock ticking away and with the school's students racing after him, with Watson in the lead. It's clever and exiting. As the older Watson says in recollection when Holmes finds the trophy with seconds to spare, "It was a wonderful, heroic moment for Holmes. But little did he know that his amazing powers and talents would soon be put to a much greater test, a test of terrifying and deadly proportions."
And with that we're off into a case of murderous hallucinations with all sorts of scary special effects, of a deadly Egyptian cult in the heart of London, of young girls used for human sacrifices, of a cauldron of revenge...and we realize that we've moved from a young Sherlock Holmes to a young Indiana Jones. From a loving and clever imagining of Holmes and Watson meeting at school and solving a vicious, exotic series of killings, we're up to our necks in the calculated hokum of a boy's own adventure, courtesy of executive producer Steven Spielberg, assisted by George Lucas' special effects studio. We even have an E.T. moment when young Holmes and Watson take off on a pedal-powered flying device to soar over London at night in pursuit of the villain. The first part of the movie is so good that it just about disguises the calculated playing-with-the-audience build-up to the conclusion. Nicholas Rowe, tall and lean, and Alan Cox, round and quizzical, are first-rate as young Holmes and young Watson. They've continued to act but never had better roles. Michael Hordern, who gives us the narrative voice of the older Watson, provides much of the heart of the movie. We can imagine an elderly Watson looking back at this first case with affection and appreciation. At the end of the movie Holmes is leaving Brompton School while Watson will graduate and go on to medical studies. Watson says goodbye to his friend and stands near as Holmes enters the horse-drawn carriage. We hear the older Watson tell us, "As I watched Holmes settle into his seat, a sudden feeling came over me -- that I would most certainly be seeing him again. So ended my first adventure with Mister Sherlock Holmes. As I watched his carriage disappear into the distance, I realized that I had forgotten to thank him. He had taken a weak, frightened boy and made him into a courageous, strong man. My heart soared. I was filled with confidence. I was ready for whatever mystery or danger lay ahead. I was ready to take on the greatest and most exciting adventure of them all, and I knew it was bound to involve Sherlock Holmes."
Though, if you make it through the credits, and know about Holmes' arch enemy, you will be pleasantly surprised.
Many Holmes sayings and trademarks appear ('The game is afoot', The hat and pipe) and for a fan of the books, those will also be appreciated.
It could have been so much better, but alas, it was not. 5/10
The plot thickens (along with Watson) as we meet Holmes' new schoolmaster, Master Wraith. Wraith comes across as a decent sort, keen to advise Holmes and give him a helping hand here and there. Though there's something about his good looks that suggests he must have some darker ulterior motive (otherwise he'd be the hero of the story seeing as he's far more sophisticated and intelligent than that whelk Holmes)
Soon we also meet Professor Waxflatter, mad inventor and would-be mentor to the young Holmes.
Even though Professor Waxflatter is mad as a bicycle, it seems not to run in the family. His niece Elizabeth, not only is in total possession of her mental faculties and common sense, but is -as far as Holmes is concerned- the tastiest thing since peaches and cream. The feeling turns out to be mutual (amazing what some people will settle for isn't it?) and a heart warming love story blooms that leaves you with a lump in your throat and a desperate need to find the nearest sick bucket.
Meanwhile, the evil Dudley, Holmes' rival at school is doing his damndest to get Holmes expelled. Before long, a series of deaths have occurred and Holmes is ready to camply leap into action. So, he installs himself in Elizabeth's attic flat (though we're all led to believe its in the interests of solving the murder -sneaky little devil that Holmes) and so the dynamic young Holmes and his bloated sidekick embark on their adventure, armed only with the power to look at things through a magnifying glass and saying "hmmn" and otherwise severely limited powers of deduction.
Before long, we're led into a web of intrigue, involving an ancient Egyptian cult that largely busies itself with doing unspeakable things to people and dressing up in silly clothing.
At the heart of this mystery is the evil Aytah, the leader of the cult, who came to England as a boy with his grandfather. Before long, the young Holmes has solved most of this puzzle with the air of one who has just discovered that the square peg wasn't meant to go in the round hole anyway.
Soon, we discover the identity of the "mysterious" Aytah (*yawn* can you guess?) as well as his fraternally wicked sister. Before you can say "dastardly duo" Aytah and co have spirited Elizabeth off for their evil purposes and its up to Batman and Robin to get her back -after all, Holmes hasn't had so much as a goodnight kiss from her yet.
Holmes and Watson give chase in a bicycle powered airplane (Orville Wright eat your heart out) and the score shifts to "Lassie Come Home" mode with a sound that reeks of boisterous young adventure the Famous Five would be envious of. Sadly, Holmes and Watson aren't killed in the crash landing,
Before long, the scene changes to an underground temple full of itinerant Londoners dressed in silly robes singing some sort of opera in some dubious attempt at the dead tongue of the Egyptians. Aytah comes down the stairs looking the belle of the ball in his dress and jewelry, a silly mask is ceremoniously placed on his head to complete a look straight off the cover of Vogue.
Predictably, there's a Tom & Jerry style death trap for Elizabeth that gives the rusty wheels in Holmes' head just enough time to revolve and hatch a plan Jerry mouse would be proud of...
Tell you what though, if it were up to me, I'd pick Watson for a sidekick too. He takes a thumping every five minutes in the film, but is never knocked out for more than 10 seconds and never shows any signs of bruising. Not only that, every villain that takes a swing at him is covered by a shower of rocks and rubble. Honestly, its like he's got divine protection.
On with the "plot" *sigh*... Aytah makes off with Elizabeth, ostensibly I assume for the purpose of a bit of hows-your-father. Holmes, filled with indignation at being beaten to the punch, is after the devil in a flash. The last bit worth mentioning (or not) is the final battle between Aytah and Holmes. In a curious version of sword play that involves attempting to hit your enemy's sword instead of lopping his arm off, the two battle for their lives, with various crate throwing and other dirty tricks mixed in. The ending's nothing to write home about, a good laugh by all accounts and a lesson in how not to act if you expect anyone to actually watch your film. To cut a long story short, everyone doesn't live happily ever after, but close enough.
And there you go, a pathetic end to a trash film. Spielberg really should have been shot for producing this one...
"Young Sherlock Holmes" is well-produced across the board, fun, fast and perfectly cast. Some other posters here have slammed both Rowe (Holmes) and Cox (Watson), but I found them just fine. The flagrant 80's effects (from the Spielberg/Lucas teams) are a distraction and the "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984) style plot is absolutely wrong, but those are my only real complaints. Director Barry Levinson, has of course, go on to much greater things, but this may be his most underrated film. Personally, I would have enjoyed this film even more had the three leads been even younger (say 11-14 years old). But then, there couldn't be a big sword duel between Holmes and Rathe.
If your a fan of the Amblin Entertainment empire, and don't know anything about Sherlock Holmes I think you'll enjoy this film. It's a great shame (even tragedy) "Young Sherlock Holmes" was a complete box-office bomb and that the DVD has no special features whatsoever!
Final rating: 7/10 "An enjoyable, entertaining movie. Not a classic, but it's not supposed to be."
The basic story is fine, for a kid-oriented, Spielburg-influenced adventure. In this alternate version of the Sherlock legend, the great detective and his sidekick (future doctor)Watson meet as young teens in boarding school. Here they solve their first mystery, concerning a mysterious figure who causes several deaths by shooting his (her?) victims with darts filled wit a powerful hallucinogenic. Eventually, they are led to a mysteriously powerful cult. And of course, there's a bit of romance (no, not between Holmes and Watson).
Sounds pretty good for a kid's adventure, huh?
Well, as I mentioned earlier, the screenplay by Chris Columbus (director of the new Harry Potter movie)is seriously flawed. Obviously, some research into Holmes' fictional history went into the creation of the movie's revisionist story. But, beyond a couple of clever revelations foreshadowing the adult Holmes canon, Columbus' screenplay completely ignores the most important element of the Holmes character, the element that has made the character one of the genre's most enduring: Holmes' uncanny observational and deductive abilities. The payoff of every Holmes story comes when he explains how he has deduced what seemed, up until that point in the story, impossible for him to know. He basically goes through the entire process and we marvel at is abilities as a detective.
Well, "Young Sherlock Holmes" has none of that. Columbus' version of Holmes and Watson simply fall effortlessly from one clue after another, moved not by Holme's deductive abilities, but by the machinations of teh screenplay alone. In other words, the great Sherlock Holmes doesn't really figure much out.
If a second screenwriter had been hired to create an actual mystery to lay over Columbus' adolecent adventure--perhaps puzzlemaster Anthony Peter Shaffer ("Sleuth")--the movie would have been much more involving. As it stands, it's "The Goonies" with posh London accents.
Then I'm sure we would have had "Young Sherlock Holmes 2: Moriarty Returns" and on and on.
Perhaps its time for a remake.
All in all, the acting was reasonably good (except for the scenery chewing villains) and the costumes were great, but I had a hard time staying awake while watching this film. The ending was particularly inane...obviously designed to lead into a sequel, which thankfully never came about. Strictly a movie for little kids or for people who like watching dated special effects.
Holmes becomes intrigued as well as angry when several people die of apparent suicide or hysteria, including someone with whom he was very close, Professor Waxflatter. Waxflatter keeps repeating a word over and over before he dies, and Holmes decides to investigate. While doing so, he discovers a hallucinatory drug that is blown into the victim, causing them to see things that aren't there. He also discovers an Egyptian-type religious cult called Rametep, who make use of this drug.
After observing one of the cult's rituals, Holmes, Watson, and another school friend, Elizabeth, are spotted and hit with the drug, each suffering horrific hallucinations.
Holmes is unable to interest Inspector Lestrade in this case, and when a fellow student sets him up by forging test questions in his handwriting, Holmes is expelled. Though he's supposed to leave town, he stays in a room at Elizabeth's, helped by Elizabeth and Watson. He's found, and Watson is expelled as well. Can they solve the mystery, and can they get back into school? In the Conan Doyle stories, Holmes and Watson meet as adults, but it's stated up front that this is a speculative fiction. Those who know Holmes as an intellectual, probably asexual, with not much in the way of physical prowess, will see that here, he is an expert swordsman and also falls for Elizabeth. Watson here is a chubby young man (as stated in the script, though he really didn't look it), very bookish looking and not at all adventurous.
The plot is reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark in that there is a lot of action and adventure, as well as exploration of the cult, which has its meetings in a cavernous place with a replica of a pyramid, where its members wear costumes and practice mummification. There are lots of special effects during the hallucination sequences as well as in other sections.
This is a marvelous film for kids, and I have to say as an adult, I enjoyed it as well. The final silhouette of Holmes is delightful, as we see the man he will become.