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Archive for December 29th, 2009

Elementary?

Jumping into the narrative half way through a case allows for an all action start to Sherlock Holmes. The fictional detective has been around for approximately 120 years, and has been adapted into more than 200 movies and TV programs but has now been turned into an action adventure. Think an English Victorian Indiana Jones. This all action approach should be laughable but for some reason it works. The main reason is the fantastic performances by and chemistry between the two leads Robert Downey Jr. (Holmes) and Jude Law (Watson). In last years Iron Man, Downey Jr proved it’s a characters weaknesses and not his strengths that make great entertainment and his Holmes is a deeply flawed character. Where other movies have tried to gloss over Holmes’ character flaws Downey Jr embraces them and emphasises them for great comic effect.

The movie is full of Guy Ritchie gimmicks like slow motion and flashbacks explaining the events of the story, these are lees intrusive than you would think. Besides this the direction is relatively lean making the two and a bit hours fly by. The production design is fantastic with great costumes and an interesting view of Victorian London including a half finished tower bridge. As far as I am aware plot is a new story written for the film, but it does make lots of references to Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary character. Homes is an expert at fighting with a singlestick, an exponent of Baritsu and a “formidable bare knuckle fighter”. Irene Adler from A Scandal in Bohemia makes an appearance. Mark Strong makes a great villain, Lord Blackwood. The Temple of the Four Orders are reminiscent of Dan Brown favourites the Illuminati and the Freemasons, this plot fits well with Holmes’ deductive powers

Rachel McAdams crops up as Irene Adler, Holmes’ old flame and Kelly Reilly as Mary Morstan, Watson’s fiancé (introduced in the second novel, The Sign of the Four). Both these characters are woefully underdeveloped and underused. This could add fuel to the Homes is gayfire started by Downey. The rest of the supporting cast is largely forgettable other than Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lestrade.

Like so much of Guy Ritchie’s output the film is disposable pulp but it is such good fun you just can’t help liking it. The ending of the film suggests that a sequel is inevitable, this is reinforced by the $65million opening weekend in America, only $10million behind Avatar.

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