Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sherlock Holmes

Cinema Monolith: 3/10 Film Reel
IMDb: 7.6/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: ** out of 4

Released on December 25, 2009
Rated PG-13
128 minutes

Directed by Guy Ritchie

Written by Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, and Simon Kinberg

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Kelly Reilly, Eddie Marsan, Hans Matheson, James Fox, William Hope, Clive Russell, Robert Maillet, Geraldine James, Joe Egan

If you’ve ever wanted to see a cheeky version of The Bourne Identity set in 1890s London, then you’re in luck; Sherlock Holmes will be right up your alley. For me, however, it was a long, hyper, over-directed, CG-heavy, and as I’m sure most fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s storied character would agree, blasphemous re-telling of the Holmes literary canon, ramped-up and injected with modern-day actions and attitudes. And yet, with all those stimulants thrown at me, I was still bored out of my freaking mind!

Robert Downey Jr plays Victorian-era master sleuth Sherlock Holmes, who along with his investigative partner Dr. John Watson finds himself embroiled in a caper involving a missing man, a hanged murderer who apparently has risen from the dead, a secret society dabbling in magic, and a plot to kill members of Parliament. In the meantime, Holmes hooks up with a former romantic interest, and Watson prepares for marriage and a peaceful life away from Holmes’ unconventional and oppressive lifestyle.

And trust me, that last one is a concept I endorse wholeheartedly. As you’ve guessed, there wasn’t much about this movie I cared about, either the first time around or this second one, eight years later. I will say that the backgrounds and set design were quite well done, and easily the only aspect that kept me involved, while Jude Law’s take on Watson and Mark Strong’s villain Lord Henry Blackwood were at least worthy of praise, as was Kelly Reilly’s quiet and patient fiancée, Mary Morstan. But the rest of it…bah! I’ll take a Basil Rathbone version of Sherlock any day over this slop!

In fact, I actually nodded off a few times when I saw this one at the theater, and flat-out fell asleep during Rachel McAdams’ clothes-changing scene, which either tells you how little sex appeal McAdams’ character had, or how disinterested I was with the whole thing. I’ve read three novels and a handful of short stories featuring Holmes, and I don’t remember the literary Sherlock being anywhere near as hip, as happenin’, and as completely obnoxious as his modern cinematic counterpart.

And if I hadn’t been invited to see Sherlock Holmes by a female co-worker I enjoyed hanging out with, and if I’d known ahead of time it was directed by Guy Ritchie and written by FOUR screenwriters, I never would have bothered with it. But if you’re able to just go with the flow, and think of it as more a lighthearted, modernistic take on the Holmes legend than an exercise in overblown cinema tedium, then you might have a better time with it than I did.  (3/10)

Sherlock Holmes - photo steps fix

4 comments on “Sherlock Holmes

  1. Dracula

    When you nodded off at the theater did you choke on your milk dud? Maybe you disturbed those watching with your snoring. Wait, with a CM 3 out of 10 review the theater must have been empty!


    • Todd B

      We arrived a bit late, and surprisingly the theater was NOT empty, so we ended up sitting just three rows back from the screen. Maybe having my head tilted back contributed to my falling asleep, but I think it was only for a minute or so. And no Milk Duds…I’m strictly a Sweet Tarts kind of guy.


  2. Your opening statement pretty much says it all. Modern day greed trying to turn Holmes into a super hero with stomach turning CGI.


    • Todd B

      Exactly. I’ve never seen any of the Sherlock episodes starring Benedict Cumberbatch, but I wonder if those are closer in tone to the source material than these two movies are.


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