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  • Sherlock Holmes | Review

    By | December 24, 2009

    Director: Guy Ritchie

    Writers: Arthur Conan Doyle (Characters), Lionel Wigram (Story), Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg (Screenplay)

    Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong

    Guy Ritchie’s interpretation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous sleuth – Sherlock Holmes – bares very little resemblance to its literary source, as he opts to focus on Sherlock’s brawn over his brain. Sure, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock can fight when need be (according to Doyle’s books, Sherlock is an expert fist-fighter and swordsman) but Ritchie’s Sherlock possesses fighting skills, strength and indestructibility that are typically reserved for superheroes and gods.

    Ritchie’s relentless testosterone fest takes place in London in 1891 (which looks eerily similar to the Hughes Brothers’ vision of London in From Hell). We are introduced to Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his partner Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) as they are in the midst of solving a string of supernatural murders perpetuated by a magical secret society called the Four Corners (the plot is also eerily similar to the Hughes Brothers’ From Hell – which explored a less secret yet equally maniacal society: the Freemasons). Sherlock and his dear Watson effortlessly snag the ringleading satanist Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) and Lord Blackwood is subsequently hanged. Unfortunately for London, Lord Blackwood appears to have risen from his grave and the murders commence once again (and Blackwood has created an all-powerful, not to mention indestructible, weapon of mass destruction to boot!); but luckily for Sherlock, this mystery is more elementary than a Scooby Doo episode.

    When Ritchie chooses to retain consistency with Doyle’s source material – Sherlock’s eccentric habits (primarily his disregard for tidiness or order), intellectual prowess, astute observation, deductive reasoning and forensic skills – Sherlock Holmes is its most entertaining…and at least Ritchie got Sherlock’s address correct: 221-B Baker Street. If it were not for Robert Downey Jr.’s highly entertaining interpretation of Sherlock – especially his knack for the more Holmesian scraps of dialogue – Sherlock Holmes would have no merit at all.

    It is also worth noting that Sherlock Holmes was not adapted from any of Doyle’s works – it was originally conceived by Lionel Wigram. However, some of Doyle’s original characters (besides Sherlock and Dr. Watson) do make appearances, including Sherlock’s famed archenemy Professor Moriarty (mentioned by name only – in a brazen set-up to a sequel) and one of Sherlock’s only love interests Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams).

    (On a side note – and I am by no means a master of hebrew – it appears as though the Four Corners utilize hebrew letters in their writings. What, if anything, is Ritchie trying to say about Jews?)

    Nonetheless, all that is afoot in Sherlock Holmes is a bit of the old ultra violence; and all brawn and no brain make Sherlock Holmes a very dull film. Very disappointing my dear Watson, very disappointing…

    Rating: 3.5/10

    Topics: Film Reviews, News | 5 Comments »

    • Jacques

      Wow… I’ll admit that everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but… wow…

      Personally, I quite enjoyed the movie; and against such a scathing review, I feel that I should at least present a few counter-points.

      Yes, Ritchie focused on making this a bit more of an action movie, but it’s frankly the kind of stuff that is expected to make a movie a money-maker nowadays. Yes, maybe he could’ve been more original; maybe he sold out by focusing slightly more on Holmes’ martial prowess than his intellect, but Holmes’ analytical skills are displayed quite regularly throughout the movie, and “all brawn and no brain” is an unjustified hyperbole.

      Re: “…fighting skills, strength and indestructibility that are typically reserved for superheroes and gods.” I’d really like to see an example for this… again, too much hyperbole? I don’t think anyone coming out of that film would compare Holmes’ to Superman or Zeus.

      You might forget that canonically, Holmes’ was ‘revived’ (ret-conned) and it was attributed to his study of Bartitsu (mispelled Baritsu in the books). Bartitsu was actually more an amalgamation of cane-fighting, English pugilism, French Savate kickboxing, and judo, and is quite a versatile and extensive system of physical culture, beyond just fighting techniques. (It’s being resurrected largely due to work by Tony Wolf: http://www.bartitsu.org/) And I personally enjoyed this exploration of Holmes’ character as something a little less traditional, but still canonical.

      Also, I’m not a master of hebrew either, and didn’t notice if hebrew characters were used or not, but before insinuating that the director has something against Jews, you should realize that the Jewish culture has one of the oldest systems of enlightenment/philosophy we know of in Kabbalah, which many people have associated with, and/or used for ‘magick’.

      Overall, I’d have to say that I’m a bit disappointed in the review, as it seems incredibly biased and/or written with a predisposition towards what the movie should have been and punishing the movie for it not being exactly how the reviewer would have produced it.

      Then again, maybe I have a predisposition against reviewers who appear to go into a movie with an idea already in their head, instead of being prepared to accept a movie for how it was intended to be made.

      Granted, if you were just hoping to elicit reactionary responses, well done–you succeeded. Or perhaps I took your review too seriously; Though without many positive notes and a 3.5/10, I’m kind of doubting it.

    • Jew

      Hebrew was used, probably:

      a. It is a foreign language that most moviegoers can’t read

      b. Kabbalistic writings have the type of complicated diagrams that are perhaps associated with “magic”

      c. Kabbalah in itself is associated with magic because it is mysterious and suggests hidden power (although it is NOT magic)

      None of the actual Hebrew writing was offensive (although I didn’t get a chance to really read it and I do wonder if it’s gibberish or something real)

    • http://thedirkshow.com Dirk

      I enjoyed it slightly more than you. I would have liked to have seen more of Holmes being a sleuth and less of shit blowing up.

    • Dan

      I wasn’t able to get a good luck at most of the Hebrew, but the word on the pyramid statue on what’s-his-name’s desk is ‘tzedek’, which means ‘justice’ or ‘righteousness’. So at least some of it is legit Hebrew.

      And though disappointing, the movie WAS fun to watch. Though like you say, I think that has more to do with Robert Downey Junior’s acting chops than anything else.

    • http://www.memorybits.co.uk/ sd card

      The franchise has got itself two cracking characters and one enticing setting. Now all it needs is a half-decent story to go with them.