Should We Believe the Hype About Sherlock Holmes? (A Review)

by on December 27, 2009

in Entertainment, movie reviews

A Cinema Static Movie Review of Sherlock Holmes:  (With subtle spoilers)

After hearing all the hype about Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, I went into the theater pretty excited to catch a piece of the action.  The TV commercial spots also mis-led me into thinking I was walking into a quippy, humor filled film.   At least that’s how I saw the ads.

This version of Sherlock Holmes That Guy Ritchie, et. al, wrote and created was more true to the character of the books than the movies…  So before you pipe up and say how they’ve changed the character, I’d be guessing you are the fan of the TV / movie versions previously done.

This rendition of Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is decidedly different than the previous screen renditions of the mindful, sharp-eyed sleuth.  He’s been given rather sharp fighting skills, a dry bit of wit, a sharp tongue, a self-destructive nature to some degree and a taste of alcoholism as part of the character.  Downey Jr. played out many character idiosyncrasies rather smartly.

Keep in mind, with the fighting skills that you may think were added to the Holmes character, again, it is right in line Arthur Conan Doyle’s original rendition.

They’ve also added a rift between Watson and Holmes that is precariously on the edge of tearing them apart.  That is if it weren’t for the fact that Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is incredibly dedicated to his friend.  A friend that, who appreciates Watson for all he’s worth, seemed to take him for granted.

The fight scenes where we see Sherlock’s fighting skills were interesting.  In one scene, we watch Sherlock preview his plan to disable his foe, so we get a pretty good feel for what he’s planning, and what exactly happens to the foe.  I found Holmes’ fighting stylea  very patient style that requires super fast reflexes to dodge incoming hits, or incredibly robust from taking the hits.  His technique is one of wearing down and slowly dissecting the foe with small hits that accumulate damage.  It’s very effective for the skinnier foe who doesn’t have a ton of strength.

Dr. Watson himself dished out and took plenty of rastling also.  This was a fun new skill-set added to the ever insightful pair of detectives.

They had to take on Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who is a rather intelligent (And foreboding) foe in his own right, but again, no match for the insightful mind of Sherlock Holmes.

I was misled by the story and found myself fidgeting in my seat until Blackwood’s plot started to unravel and everything started to either make sense, or in classic Holmes fashion, everything was explained in the closing act of the movie.  This made me regret my fidgeting.

In a sense, this movie could almost be called a prequel.  I say that because Moriarty was behind the scenes and pulling some strings, but did not step up to confront Holmes in any fashion.  Holmes had no clue that he was in the background until the closing act.

Reflections on Sherlock Holmes

I don’t think this will be a box office smash.  It will do well, but I’m not seeing records being broken.  It’s a great movie for the fans of the original character and a superb adaptation and deviation from the on-screen character that many grew up with, if they didn’t read any of Doyle’s work.

But this is a mindful movie that you need to think your way through with the occasional distraction of violence and relationships with some wonderful on-screen eye-candy.

The theater I was at had 2 screens playing Sherlock Holmes for the same time slot and they might have both been 1/2 full for the 10:20 p.m. showing in downtown Valencia, CA on a Saturday night.

Because I went into the film with different expectations from various reviews I’ve read, I was a bit distracted by them.

As a fan of the original, I score the film a 9.

As a movie-goer looking for the classic things a film puts out, I had too think too much.  I give it an 8 for that matter.

After writing this, I looked up the movie on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes for their scores.  IMDB score is sitting at ~8 / 10 after 1,450+ votes.  Rotten Tomatoes is sitting at ~6 / 10.  These scores support my movie-goer number.

I don’t mind thinking through movies, hence my movie-goer number of 8.  This is a thinking man’s movie and when most go to the theater, they just want to sit and enjoy.  We think enough in our day jobs!

If you’re a fan, you’ll eat this up.  As someone looking to kill time in the theater, the numbers speak for themselves and I think it’s a great time killer if you just want to hang out and watch a movie.

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