Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Sherlock Holmes - for the holidays
yes it's a tad homoerotic
Some can argue that guy Ritchie hasn’t had a real hit since 2000’s Snatch. The one thing that can’t be argued is that Guy Ritchie has always been Guy Ritchie. Say what you want, but he has a distinct visual style that pops off the screen. There are few directors in the business these days who can say the same, Maybe Wes Anderson and as much as I hate to say it, Michael Bay.
Ritchie’s Vision of Holmes is a sight to behold on a big screen. I had some mild trepidation going into this one because the trailers really make it out to be a Jerry Bruckheimer film full of chase scenes and explosions. I’m happy to say this isn’t the case and exposition takes center stage throughout. That’s not to say there are none, but they’re done tastefully and only when appropriate to the story. Speaking of which…
If you didn’t know who Sherlock Holmes was before beginning this review I suggest maybe not worrying about the film so much and picking up a book. They’re well worth the read, especially if you like a good mystery, just making a suggestion. Anyway, our good man Holmes and his right hand man/Boswell Dr. Watson have just captured Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) and he is to be put to death. His final wish is to see Holmes, Blackwood tells him that he will return from the dead and continue his work in the dark arts. That’s the entire movie, that one previous line is essentially the entire plot to the film and the devil’s in the details. The thing that was always so great about Sherlock Holmes and I feel Guy Ritchie hits this nail right on the head is that he can deduce the infinite out of the infinitesimal. By the third act things should be clicking in your head and you should be putting everything together. It’s not an incredibly complicated mystery and some details are specifically left out (as Holmes was apt to do) so that when they are revealed you say to yourself “so THAT’S why he was licking the rock” or whatever he happened to have done.
Sherlock Holmes in the books was described by Watson as “bohemian” with little care for traditional organizational habits or grooming. So in that I applaud Robert Downey Jr. in his portrayal and besides whom better to play a borderline madman genius with issues. Another forgotten and mostly overlooked aspect of Holmes is that he was the first western martial artist. Holmes was a practitioner of an eclectic and odd little gem of a form known as Bartitsu (or as it was called in Doyle’s books Baritsu). Jude Law as Watson seems a perfect fit as well; he plays the equal parts keen observer and naïve dupe eloquently. I was glad to see Mark Strong; he’s one of those actors you know his face and you’ve seen him before, but you just don’t remember his name. Well remember it; I’m hoping that this helps him get more high profile gigs because he deserves it.
Sherlock Holmes may not be Ritchie’s best film, but it’s a perfect litmus test to see what Ritchie can do with a bigger budget. I would definitely recommend it, though it’s not entirely important you see it in theaters.
4 Genius Madmen out of 5
Next Up: I Spit on your Grave – FINALLY MY YEAR IN DISTURBING FILM BEGINS!
P.S. then after that Daybreakers or perhaps my first SWV of the year!
P.P.S. you can check out this great article on cracked about Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes here