Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sherlock Holmes (2009)


After completing their final case together, Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey. Jr.) and Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) must team up once again with the re-appearance of their final foe, Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who has come back from the grave for one final act.

Throughout the run time of Sherlock Holmes I couldn't help but feel as if this movie wasn't so much of a reboot as a sequel to non-existent Sherlock Holmes tale. No setup, backstory, or really any development, we are quickly thrusted in to the modern day trials of the legendary novel detective. For those familiar with the old Sherlock Holmes tales, this introduction will be rocky, but not without balance, while those unfamiliar (and unfortunate) people will likely spend most of the films first 30 minutes with bewildered by all that is going on. Though of course even still this is not your typical Sherlock Holmes.

The fun outfits, hats, magnifying glasses, and off the cuff personality has been subsided in favor of quick-witty remarks, tough physique, and a more gritty Victorian appeal. Of course when you have a cast compromising of Downey Jr., Law, Strong, an underused (but always beautiful) Rachel McAdams, and the oft underrated Eddie Marsan, there's little down that the characters can carry the blunt of the story. And that they do. The character dynamic is quite impressive, the emotional strain obviously there, and each do an excellent job of helping to develop the layers behind each character. A refreshing development against modern action films with too many explosions and so little character.

At the same time Ritchie is able to re-establish himself as a very talented visual director, making the most of each scene. While his slow-motion pre-attack breakdown felt heavy handed, Ritchie managed to squeeze as much beautiful imagery as possible from each shot. Perfectly combining an age of mysticism, national growth, and general British appeal. No matter what Ritchie does, it never hurts when you have a musical genius like Hans Zimmer hiding behind each scene. His musical score, taking a small sampling from Once Upon a Time in the West, breaths refreshing life into the film. Quirky, comical, and yet daringly dark, it's definitely among the best musical scores of the year. Yet for all its strengths the 2 hour 8 minute runtime feels a bit stretched out, and could probably have cut down about 10 minutes worth of unnecessary audience reminders. As well the story is far from unpredictable, but the crew unite strongly to make it enjoyable all the same.

While I dearly miss my "elementary, dear Watson," Guy Ritchie and company have thrown a nice, more modern, spin on the classic detective, with broad appeal, and solid narrative development.

3 better thoughts:

Candice Frederick said...

i wasn't really drawn to the trailer for this movie because it seems like such a departure from the original sherlock holmes character. but it does look like a fun movie regardless.

The Mad Hatter said...

Ritchie really did a good job on this flick. Between HOLMES and ROCKNROLLA, I definitely think Guy's Got His Groove Back.

Simon Hardy Butler said...

Hey, Ryan--good review (as usual)! I was kinda shocked by how not bad Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes" was. But I came in with no expectations whatsoever...and so I wasn't disappointed. It wasn't a great film, however, and I wasn't too pleased with Hans Zimmer's (seemingly customary) twitchy, tinkling score. Still, rather a low-brow sort of way. Cheers.


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