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Sherlock Holmes (2009)

December 26, 2009

5/10 Games Afoot

One more strike-out for Guy Ritchie.

Sherlock Holmes is about everyone’s favorite British detective and his right-hand man Watson as they try to stop the devious occult leader Lord Blackwood who has seemingly returned from the grave in order to take over Parliament via a mass killing spree.

This is unfortunately one of those movies that I went into expecting a fun ride but ended up forgetting about the minute I walked out of the theater. I was actually in the middle of writing another review when I realized I had seen this a few days ago and had to start all over, and that doesn’t happen a whole lot. The best answer I can give for why this one totally slipped through my memory was that the whole time I was watching it I just didn’t care.

Now, I’m pretty unfamiliar with the source material by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but I’m gonna go take a shot in the dark here and say that this isn’t exactly what he had in mind. Some may see it as a “re-envisioning” of Holmes, I see it as more of a tarnishing if anything else.

A lot of things here don’t really work that well, but the thing that most surprised me in this regard was the bromantic relationship between Holmes and Watson. I’ve always figured that Holmes was the brains and Watson was the braun, but I never got the impression that they could pass as the 19th Century version of the Ambiguously Gay Duo. Not only is the whole dynamic very strange from beginning to end, it’s really just annoying listening to them talk to each other. That scene in the trailer where Jude Law is repeatedly telling Robert Downey to get the violin bow out of his face? The whole movie is like that and it’s as annoying as having someone point their fingers in front of your eyes while saying “I’m not touching you!” over and over. It’s not funny and after a while it had me wishing they would stop.

This leads me to the script, a script that was written by three different people. After seeing The Lovely Bones script turn to shit at the hands of three different writers, I’m starting to think there’s a pattern emerging here. There’s way too much going on, not enough development to give me any reason to hold any interest in what’s up with these characters and whether they live or die or solve the crime, and it’s far more confusing than it needs to be. 

But I think the reason I ultimately didn’t care for Sherlock Holmes is the same reason I don’t care for the show House. The thing with House is that it presents you with a mystery that you are never going to solve because it always ends up being solved in the most obscure, bizarre fashion that no one would ever see coming. But since House is the biggest thing to happen to medical dramas since Michael Crichton, Holmes is jumpin’ on the bandwagon. Like anyone would look at a burned rhododendron leaf and think, “Oh that was totally used to kill someone and I know exactly how they did it.” By the time the movie tells me how it all went down, I’m beyond the point of trying to figure it out that it just doesn’t matter any more.

So way to go, Holmes, you and Dr. House would get along like gangbusters.

Robert Downey, Jr. is also kind of annoying. Part of it is due to my dislike of American actors with fake British accents, but he just didn’t do it for me. Can’t really put my finger on it, but I’m thinking it’s that pompous attitude of his that works really well at times and totally doesn’t at others. Still like him, though. 

And why does Jude Law keep landing roles? Yeah, he was alright in Road to Perdition and Cold Mountain, but Jude here is living proof that just because you have a badass name doesn’t mean you’re a badass actor. If he took more roles that required him to get his head smacked in with an oar like in The Talented Mr. Ripley, maybe I’d be singing a different tune, but until that time, I’m not much of a fan. An odd choice to play Watson and he’s not doing much to help the movie’s cause.

Rachel McAdams is in it too as Holmes’ love interest of sorts, and while her performance is fine I guess, their relationship is just as aggravating to follow as everyone else’s.

On the other hand, it is pretty cool to watch. Even if everything else is forgettable at best, Guy Ritchie knows how to make his movies look good and he could teach Zack Snyder a thing or two about filming fight scenes in slo-mo. So much potential…

The best thing I got out of watching Sherlock Holmes is that it’s inspired me to finally go and read the stories that this mess was based on because I’m feeling cheated out of something that could have been quite awesome. But who knows, this might be the one to get Ritchie back to doing Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels clones – which would be great. Well, that and his split with Madonna. That wasn’t gonna work out anyway.

Here’s to hoping.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2009 5:25 pm

    At least I know someone else think Law is hugely overrated.

  2. December 31, 2009 5:25 pm


  3. January 1, 2010 1:09 pm

    Totally agree that the script by committee is a terrible, terrible idea. Although I enjoyed the movie more than you did (gave it a B+), I can totally relate to people who see its shortcomings. Nevertheless, a couple things I don’t agree with 😉 I thought Jude Law gave a solid performance, nothing extraordinary but solid. More importantly, how the mystery solved is usually how it unfolds in the written stories as well. Basically, you have no idea what’s going on until the big discourse at the end. Happy new year Aiden!

  4. January 3, 2010 4:12 pm

    Overall i felt he slow-mo was well used, except for that one huge explosion. What I thought was the reason for using it was proven wrong basically as soon as the explosion ended. It just didn’t work for me.

    • January 4, 2010 8:10 am

      Yeah, that was unnecessary. But the slo-mo fights a la Snatch were A-okay.

  5. January 4, 2010 12:21 pm

    why is this man allowed to direct films?

    • January 4, 2010 12:30 pm

      Haha, he’s had his moments. It’s been a while, but they’re there.

  6. January 4, 2010 10:58 pm

    After reading your review, I’ll wait til this comes out on DVD, I was really hoping this would be a good one with Rober Downey Jr pulling it though.

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