Sherlock Holmes

2009 has been, amongst all the dross and rubbish, an excellent year for film, probably the best year of the decade. And the fact that the box office this year has passed the $10 billion mark for the first time ever, is a great sign that Hollywood is producing films that people want to see. And in a very crowded summer blockbuster season (definitely the biggest since the season of Kong, Potter and Narnia in 2005), full of apocalypses, sparkling vampires, blue Na’Vi, wild things and Peter Jackson, comes this great and big-budgeted spin on the world’s greatest super sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. Guy Ritchie, director of gangster flicks like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Rock’N’Rolla, brings his traditional style of filmmaking to Sherlock Holmes, and while a lot of the time, that doesn’t really go well with the late 1800’s setting, he gives it a great stab. The plot is a bit all of the shop at times, but that’s not totally faithful. After Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), a member of a secret society is caught practicing some dark magic by Holmes (Downey Jr.) and his accomplice Dr. Watson (Jude Law), he is sentenced to death and hung by the neck. That leaves Holmes without a case to solve. Soon, Blackwood’s grave is found shattered open. A witness also said that Blackwood rose from the grave. Meanwhile, Holmes tries to take Watson away from his fiancée for some company, not really to help him solve the case. Meanwhile, Holmes is introduced to Irene Adler (Rachel Mc Adams), the only woman to ever outsmart him, is also thrown in there to shake things up. There are many sub-plots that are hard to keep up with, such as Watson’s personal and love life, Holmes’ struggle to keep his best friend and his interest in Adler. This kind of throws the film out of whack. The biggest redeeming feature of Sherlock Holmes is of course Robert Downey Jr’s performance. This was a brilliant piece of casting, and steals every scene he’s in, reminiscent of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. Downey Jr’s performance is as good and as charming as Depp was, showing how much of a great and versatile actor he is. He just throws out these clever quips and one liners like there’s no tomorrow. Like the two POTC sequels, the film is more effective when Downey Jr.’s on screen. Jude Law is also very solid as Watson. Rachel McAdams, although is great in the part, feels out of place, and is pretty much unnecessary. The fact that she’s American in amongst everything else, which is British, kind of puts you off. It’s hard to find a genre for Sherlock Holmes. It’s not really an action film, though it’s smitten with many action sequences, all of which look great; it’s not really a comedy, though Downey Jr’s presence makes it funnier than your average action adventure. The action sequences are exciting, spectacular even, but they really don’t have anything to do with the plot, and they feel out of place. Holmes looks great, and the costumes are fantastic. It’s very different, but nonetheless great to see Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes shirtless in a boxing ring fighting men. One of the best things about Holmes is that it has something that most Hollywood blockbusters lack these days – fun. This, as well as Downey Jr. seals Sherlock Holmes as one of the year’s better blockbusters, and a great end to the year.

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