All entries for Saturday 16 January 2010

January 16, 2010


Movie image
Sherlock Holmes
2 out of 5 stars

What would ol’ Clay make of Guy Ritchie’s bare-knuckle boxing, Frenchman beating, second-act lulling, occult-battering bromance?

It seems that the best way to solve a mystery is to slap it about the head, or electrocute it, or give it a hearty spanking with one’s cane. So it is that we first encounter Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, who meditates on the best means of clocking some chap who obstructs his path to Mystery Solution and then – mark you – he knocks the fellow out, the confrontation proceeding exactly as he deduced it would in the cornball slow-motion sequence. ‘Aha’, we say to this internal narrative, ‘clearly this Sherlock Holmes fellow is some manner of Thinker.’

An IMDB entry for Sherlock Holmes tells me that ‘it is made to be a rollicking good time’. Anyone who says ‘rollicking’ is bound to be a total prick (even, if not especially, in that overworn mode of irony), but the prick has a point. The result of the commitment to Rollick is that Conan Doyle’s world and characters are merely the dressing for a fairly conventional action-adventure movie. Sherlock Holmes is given the 21st-century comic book reboot, and not much of the literary original turns up for the adventure. Look at the fucking promotional posters – they’re like ads for superhero films:


Ritchie has one good idea in livening Holmes up, as opposed to depicting him in his traditional screen incarnation as a pipe-smoking, contemplative bore. Robert Downey Jr is good as a troubled, eccentric Holmes too, but no-one can seem to think what to do with the character other than chase scenes and fighting villains or, when there isn’t a chase scene to be had or a villain to fight, boxing people after dinner. Aspects of Watson’s military past are evoked with the consequence that he is multi-dimensionally dull. Our ultimate problem, then – with Moriarty creeping into view, trying to nick stuff – is that we have reputedly brilliant characters under the volition of idiots. Thus our team of creators has Holmes rushing around in a sort of Victorian Dark Knight affair with explosions, and gadgets, and Holmes predicting in idle moments everything the next century of science will bring in a tongue-in-cheek manner that makes me wonder whether a bad script provides grounds for a cinema refund.

Anyway, there’s this evil chap called Lord Blackwood, whose name is evil, and who looks evil, and he’s trying to stick a knife in some virgin. Holmes stops him, to Blackwood’s chagrin, and the ensuing tussle inexplicably consumes over two hours of our time, with the subplots of Holmes trying to do some woman (Rachel McAdams) and Watson planning to marry some other, funny-looking woman (Kelly Reilly). Moriarty slips into the darkness, anticipating a chance to creep back for a sequel, although I’ll understand if he decides to give it a miss, and stays at home.


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