DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: Sherlock Holmes

Saturday 3 April 2010

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes (2009) dir. Guy Ritchie
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong


By Alan Bacchus

For some reason I’ve always liked Guy Ritchie, even though I hated all of his movies since ‘Snatch’ I wanted him to succeed. And so I was happy with the success of Sherlock Holmes. As a hired gun on a tentpole/franchise operation Ritchie succeeds admirably, and finally puts him on the right career track.

In terms of scale and budget, it’s a giant leap from his niche idiosyncratic crime pictures he’s famous for. But even with studio and Joel Silver's breath on the back of his neck Ritchie’s manages to retain his trademark style and yet satisfy the broad multiplex audience.

Of course, American Robert Downey Jr. plays the legendary British hero and the role fits him like a glove. The Downey Jr. mannerisms, confidence and swagger of his previous roles show up here in Holmes, so it’s not much of a stretch for him dramatically. In this first outing, it all fun and games for Holmes and Watson. Their case du jour is the search for Lord Blackwell, a nefarious occultist and serial murderer who, after being hanged for his crimes, starts turning up around the city, back from the dead. Holmes’ intelligence and attentive skills at deduction unravels Blackwood’s apparent supernatural abilities and eventually reveals a bigger plot to leverage political advantage of the British Parliament to attack the United States.

Ritchie’s direction of the action is inspired. Each of his set pieces are executed with perfect clarity and choreography without going over the top into Stephen Somers-type ludicrous fantasy. Nineteenth century London looks superb under the glossy visual design. The Oscar nominated art direction, ample special effects fill out the real London locations to make it all look as authentic as could be. If anything it all looks too glossy for foggy London, but it’s also a blockbuster movie and so this artistic license is allowed.

We are sufficiently teased for a sequel involving the famed archnemeis Professor Moriarty, whom we only see in shadow. So it had me speculating just who would play this character in the next instalment – Ralph Fiennes? Alan Rickman? Or maybe someone younger and against type: Christian Bale? Johnny Depp?

If anything, missing from the Holmes character are some of the gritty flaws which fleshed out other literary and screen versions of the man. I really hope the franchise is gutsy enough to add in the Holmes drug addiction traits like in, say, 'The Seven-Percent Solution'. With Downey bringing his own history with substances into the character it could be a miraculous combination.

I would never have believed that this stodgy old English hero could be made into a viable tentpole franchise – and for it to be a fun and thrilling as it is. What’s next then? Charlie Chan as directed Paul Greengrass, or a Miss Marple franchise helmed Bryan Singer?

“Sherlock Holmes” is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Warner Home Video


T.J. Hawke said...


Did you see RockNRolla? Obviously it wasn't as good as "Lock Stock" but I was stilled entertained by it. It is definitely the only time I enjoyed watching Gerard Butler.

Alan Bacchus said...

Yep - I saw RocknRolla, and though it got a decent reception from audience I still hated it.

M. Carter @ the Movies said...

Though "Sherlock Holmes" isn't without its flaws, I really enjoyed it -- mostly because of Robert Downey Jr. If there's a better pick to play the world's greatest detective, I can't think who he is. RDJ has that keen intelligence and ability to read people that made Holmes such a legend. He even made me like Jude Law a little, which is a major feat considering how much I hate Jude Law.