Friday, April 27, 2012

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009)

As the movie opens, we meet Dr Watson and Inspector Lestrade racing in a horse-driven carriage to an unknown destination. A medium-sized man (Robert Downey Jr) is also in a hurry as he quickly dispatches some unnamed hoodlums and prevents the villain Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) from making a sacrifice of a young woman. Thus begins our introduction to Sherlock Holmes in Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s renowned fictional detective.

Jude Law and Kelly Reilly as Dr John Watson and Mary Morstan in Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Jude Law and Kelly Reilly as Dr Watson and Mary Morstan
Soon, Lord Blackwood is hanged for his dastardly deeds and is pronounced dead. Dr Watson is about to be engaged to Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly). Even as Holmes tries his best to thwart the impending engagement, Blackwood returns from the dead to menace England once again. Also thrown in the mix is Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), who has been employed by Professor Moriarty to manipulate Holmes into retrieving a device (the MacGuffin of this movie).

In a considerable departure from the canon, Holmes has a very personal and non-platonic relationship with Irene Adler.

Robert Downey Jr and Irene Adler as Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler share an intimate moment in Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Yes, definitely not the Canonical Holmes....

As Sherlockians know, Holmes is quite distrusting of the opposite sex and his only interaction with Irene Adler is in A Scandal in Bohemia. I will not go into too many details, but suffice to say that this interaction was quite brief and decidedly impersonal.

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Moving on to the supporting cast, Jude Law gives a fine performance as Watson. He is every bit the canonical Watson, a strong-minded and decent individual, who also happens to the ally of Sherlock Holmes. Law presents a competent version of Watson along the likes of David BurkeEdward Hardwicke and Vitaly Solomin.

Eddie Marsan makes a remarkable Lestrade. Mark Strong does his best with the given material. Interestingly, Strong has the requisite physical attributes to be Sherlock Holmes.

Mark Strong and Robert Downey Jr as Lord Blackwood and Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Mark Strong and Robert Downey Jr as Lord Blackwood and Sherlock Holmes

The movie is mainly focused on the bromance between the residents of 221 B and the ladies unfortunately have nothing much to do. Kelly Reilly and Rachel McAdams do perform the requisite duties of providing the necessary eye candy. Geraldine James makes a fleeing appearance in a couple of scenes as Mrs Hudson.

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Image Sources: Warner Bros. Pictures, ColliderFilmHotflick

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  1. I still enjoyed the movie none the less. It was these movies and the BBC show that got me intrested in reading the Sherlock Holmes stories in the first place.

    1. It is heartening to know that people have started reading the canon after watching these adaptations.

      Did you notice any discrepancies between the canonical Holmes and the on-screen versions as depicted by Downey Jr/Cumberbatch...

      As always, thanks for taking the time to leave your feedback.

    2. Yeah, each of them have something a little different about them. A different interpretation...

  2. Couldn't agree more - a great Victorian action movie but not a Holmes movie.

  3. Replies
    1. Welcome John. Always a pleasure to hear from a like-minded Sherlockian!

  4. Interesting. I loved the Sherlock Holmes movie, but thought the Lord of the Rings trilogy made too many major character and plot changes and wasn't a huge fan of them. I guess I'm more of a Tolkien purist than a Doyle purist.

    Great review, btw. I may have to review the movie now to say what I liked about it.

    1. I agree that I am not completely aware of the changes to the LOTR movie as compared to the books. I understand that the changes in the trilogy are as repulsive to the Tolkien purist in you, just as those in the Guy Ritchie directed movie are to me.

      I look forward to reading your review, Rick :)

  5. I totally agree. Robert is a great leading man but he is definitely not the Sherlock Holmes we all know. I liked the film though. Sometimes I wonder what Hollywood's secrets are...

    1. Thanks Zoe :)

      As for Hollywood's secrets, I can only guess that it is to make more and more money. What looks to us to be a case of miscasting is to Hollywood, a very logical step to reach their goal of appealing to as wide a global audience as possible and of course end up making tons and tons of cash!

  6. I HATE this movie series. I really, really HATE it. RDJ is a terrible Holmes -- if one can even call this slobby, unkempt, rude, and street-thug-fighting dude "Holmes." I hate it with such a fiery passion that I'm hoping the second film will be the last, so we can finally forget it exists. =P

    1. Sherlock Holmes as portrayed in this movie was Downey Jr with a British accent.

  7. Well if one was to look at the Sherlock Holmes films as a die hard fan then of course one would be disappointed, the films are american made and the television series is British made. And comparing the two is quite useless. Its like having an English movie company make a film about the American west and then saying its not accurate, The films were made to bring a classic to a new generation, with no intention on tarnishing the originality of the novels, to which nothing can compare. But isn't all film from books adaptions like that ? set to disappoint. In short the films were made to entertain and create a new spin on a story that is stand alone, the British made BBC vision is just that, English and why would the English not take care to preserve the details? also they have stephen Moffat as head writer so why would one even compare ? I understand you disliking it, but why not look at it as many other disgruntled, disappointed fans of classic novels that have been made into films, as something entirely new. RDJ is american, and so of course he is not the typical Sherlock, but he is fine for a un English version designed to entertain. Cumberbatch is very British and as I have said before the writers mainly, Stephen Moffat wouldn't have made him any other, and the television series is made with the mind to hold mostly true to the original Conan Doyle but how true can that be when its set in the present day, and not victorian England ? Both are different and both are well done.
    I like them both. I do hope I didn't bother you by rambling.
    Rachel Hope

    1. LOL. A truly amusing comment...

      Keep them coming!