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Review: Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes
12.22.2009
9 10
PLOT: Master detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.), and his partner Dr. Watson (Jude Law), must stop a murderous occultist, Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who has seemingly risen from the dead.

REVIEW: I’ve always been a fan of SHERLOCK HOLMES. I used to read the short stories in grade school, and I’ve always enjoyed the various HOLMES films/ TV shows, particularly the under appreciated Holmes Vs. Jack the Ripper film, MURDER BY DECREE, with Christopher Plummer in the title role.

When I heard Guy Ritchie was adapting HOLMES into a modern film starring Robert Downey Jr., I assumed that the film would bear little resemblance to the Arthur Conan Doyle creation. The initial trailers made it look like Downey Jr., was playing a nineteenth century Tony Stark, and while it looked like a fun romp, I had my doubts that this would feel like a true SHERLOCK HOLMES adventure.

Suffice to say, I was presently surprised watching this at an early press screening, that- despite the misleading trailers, this really does feel like a true SHERLOCK HOLMES film. While the character has certainly been modernized somewhat, the essence of the character is still there, and Downey Jr., is nothing short of brilliant in the role.

His Holmes is one of the most exciting new action heroes to come along in years. From his introduction (mid-chase), you'll be rooting for him right up to the last frame. The most controversial addition that's been made to the character for the film is that, with a ripped Downey Jr., in the lead, Sherlock is a master of hand to hand combat. While this could have been cheesy, it's actually done extremely well, as Holmes' skill as a fighter doesn't come from brute strength, but rather his powers of deduction that allow him to anticipate attacks,and figure out the easiest way to neutralize an opponent.

As Watson, co-star Jude Law is fantastic, with this being his best role since ROAD TO PERDITION. Wisely, his pretty boy good looks have been tones down a bit, with him being somewhat bulked up, and wearing a mustache. Law makes a brilliant foil for Downey Jr., and their chemistry is flawless, making it believable that their characters have been friends and roommates for years. In many ways, Sherlock's relationship with Watson is the archetype for modern buddy cop relationships, and their bro-mance really is the center of the film.

My only problem with Holmes, is that- with Law and Downey stealing the show, the supporting characters come across as weak. I think a lot of Rachel McAdams' role ended up on the cutting room floor, as she's not really too central to the plot, and is off-screen for big patches of the running time. Also the scene from the trailer where she fights Holmes in a corset is not in the film.

As the villain, Mark Strong, normally a fantastic character actor is somewhat bland. However, this is far from a fatal flaw. SHERLOCK really reminds me of BATMAN BEGINS in that it's all about establishing the heroes, with the villain being a MacGuffin merely existing to drive the action. The roots for a far more substantial villain are planted throughout the film, and the final shot leaves the door open for a sequel in the same way BEGINS does.

Acting aside, the rest of the film is similarly top notch. Guy Ritchie really toned down his technique for the film, as it's much more straightforward than anything he's done up to this point. I think this is a good thing, as too many Guy Ritchie-isms might have distracted from the film, and his excellent job on this bodes well for the future of the franchise.

I also thought the period set design, and costuming was phenomenal. There's very little (obvious) CGI in the film, and everything seems to have been done practically which is a nice change from most of the other big action films we've seen lately. I really liked the way Holmes was dressed in the film, which feels both period, and appropriately hip and cool.

Finally, the score by Hans Zimmer is excellent, giving Holmes the same strong musical accompaniment as Nolan's BATMAN films. The main theme is very hummable, and I truly think Zimmer deserves an Oscar nod for his strong work here, which is actually a big departure for him, as it seems to be mostly free of his usual electronic, industrial touches.

SHERLOCK HOLMES really was a ripping good time at the movies, and I hope it doesn't get lost in the AVATAR craze, as it deserves to be the launching pad for a franchise. Other than STAR TREK, and INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, it's probably the most purely fun film experience I've had all year. See it as soon as you can, for the game is afoot....

RATING: 9/10

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Source: JoBlo.com

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