Previous reviews are at Mack Pitches Up

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sherlock Holmes -- The Movie


I am by no means a Sherlockian scholar but lately I have been immersing myself in Sherlock Holmes and I did get the three volume New Annotated Sherlock Holmes edited by Leslie Klinger for Christmas. Consequently, nothing would do but that I see the movie which I did on Boxing Day.

One line review: I enjoyed it, it was great fun, I wasn't offended, and I plan to see it again with my wife.

There are negative reviews that decry the deviation from The Canon (and, oddly, the earlier screen images of Holmes) but I'm with Leslie Klinger who says "Get a grip."

Yes, there is considerably more physical action than in the books; Holmes and Irene Adler have a relationship that continued after Scandal in Bohemia (apparently they had a favorite hotel room at the Grand Hotel); Watson is courting Mary Morstan though the Sign of the Four has not happened; Holmes is more a James Bond action hero than we expect.

But anyone who has read the stories will recognize the touches that characterize Holmes:
-- untidy habits
-- plucking at violin strings as he thinks
-- lethargy between cases
-- drug use (toughed upon very lightly)
-- skill at boxing
-- skill at single stick fighting
-- skill at baritsu
-- at least one direct quote Data! Data! Data! I can't make bricks without clay" he says to a Constable. (from The Adventure of the Copper Beeches). At least once Downy uses the famous Holmsian dictum that it is useless to speculate without sufficient data.
-- skill at observing
-- photo of Irene Adler in Holmes' room

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law work very well together as Holmes and Watson. There is humor and the comfortable bickering possible between fast friends. Like the Watson of the stories, movie Watson displays the same loyalty and courage. Eddie Marsan is spot on as Inspector Lestrade; he is much as I imagined him to be from the stories. I have read objections to Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler but I quite liked her and didn't have a problem with female character opposite the hero (as in Bond films).

If you can get past the re-imagining of Holmes and enjoy an action thriller then by all means see this movie. Personally, I will probably purchase it when it comes out on DVD and hope for a sequel next Christmas.

A few articles and reviews
The Screen Has Been Unfaithful to Holmes
My Precious Collection of Holmes Articles Inspired by the Movie
The Case of the Weird Sherlock Holmes Adaptations
The Brawling Supersleuth of 221B Baker Street Socks It to 'Em
The Burden of Holmes