I love Sherlock Holmes. I have loved Sherlock Holmes since I was about 9 years old. I remember staying up late at night reading the abridged version of The Hound of the Baskervilles and being mesmerized by the story, illustrations, and characters. That led to a healthy appetite for the original Basil Rathbone / Nigel Bruce ‘30s and ‘40s films that I would stay up late on Friday and Saturday nights to watch. Man, I even have a newspaper that was in print at the same time that Holmes “existed.” I have a framed collage hanging on my office wall that features pictures of the guarded doorway to 221B Baker Street in London, a wall painting and Holmes silhouette tiling in the subway, and a card that has the actor who plays Holmes onstage’s signature (of course, he signed it “Sherlock Holmes”). I also love the ‘80s film Young Sherlock Holmes. So when it was announced that Guy Ritchie was doing an adaptation of the famous character, I was very excited to say the least.
Sherlock Holmes is everything a fan of the character could ever want in a new adaptation of the legend. It’s adventurous, dark, mysterious, and humorous. It remains absolutely faithful to the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories while taking a chance and expanding on some aspects of the character such as physicality, the way his mind works, the curse of his mental “gifts,” and his drug use to obviously try to slow down his overactive and over stimulated psyche. It shows the back story of the character and delves into his personal world.
I can’t even begin to say enough about how well Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law work together. The chemistry between the two is unbelievable and something that I would compare to catching lightning in a bottle. Robert Downey Jr’s English accent is beyond unfaltering and you never once doubt that he is channeling the very character that Doyle would have approved of taking right off the page. Jude Law plays the straight-laced and grounded Dr. Watson the way you would expect him to be – gentlemanly and calmly skeptical of the situations he finds himself in.
The story is pretty well put together and you really don’t know what is going on until the very end. It has a kind of similar dark tone and subject matter like Young Sherlock Holmes, but isn’t an exact replica or copy of the story. The pacing is a bit off and there are a few lulls in action here and there, but it’s for the sake of the storytelling.
My only real complaint about the movie is the characterization of Irene Adler in the film. She really is tossed around and bossed around like some helpless and defensive woman, which is completely contrary to how you would think that Holmes’ would act. It wasn’t Rachel McAdams fault at all. She did what she could with what she was given to work with.
Guy Ritchie really is on to something here. This movie could be the jump start to a whole new franchise. It would be a shame to see the Downey Jr. / Law chemistry put to rest with this first film. There is so much more story and ground that could be covered. We just have to hope that this doesn’t end up getting lost in all the post – Avatar hype and the holidays. (Review by Eric Shirey)