Sunday, January 3, 2010
Paragraph Movie Reviews: Sherlock Holmes
When Ben does these, he usually notes that interested parties can check out the film in question's Wikipedia page to read spoilers, so how could I not provide such a link? Beyond that, maybe I'll be spoiling things below? I can never tell if what I say ruins a movie for someone. Be warned.
The going rate in period action movies these days is for the threat that the villain dangles over the head of our hero and the general public has some kind of mirror to modern day events/inventions/maladies. For example, in the highly flawed League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie the grand scheme of the bad guy was to create the arms race between nations. In that really shitty second Zorro movie with Antonio Banderas, the final action sequence revolved around the creation of nitroglycerin. In Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes" the villainous Lord Blackwell dips into both sides of the coin with a scheme for overthrowing the government that involves both the invention of radio detonators and a whole lot of bland lip service to ruling the minds of the citizenry with fear. That should pretty much tell you all you need to know about whether the film even tried to break out of the expected plot mechanics of today's action movies, and while I could go on about the non-magic fake outs that cheat the audience and the lead character and the sometimes grinding fight sequences, the most I'll say about what I disliked here was that this was not a Sherlock Holmes mystery. There were no clues given along the way, and while the readers of the books (which I was, obsessively, in grade school) never have the wit to figure out what's going on before Holmes does, at least they're given the pieces he has to decipher the mystery at hand. Here, we get a bunch of odd details with no context, exposition or even comment that at the end Holmes wraps up into a neat little bundle in a very "as you know, Bob" scene. Not too exciting. Though, that's not to say the film wasn't very fun. Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law are terrific as the titular detective and his man Friday Dr. Watson, and the rest of the cast keeps pace admirably as the film goes along. If you like either actor and found the previews for this movie intriguing based on their involvement alone, you'll probably enjoy it as a smarter than average action movie distraction, but don't go in looking for either a top notch mystery film or even a return to form for a director who was supposed to be the next great crime filmmaker.