(12-27-09) Greetings again from the darkness. Great literature seldom makes for great cinema. The mediums are vastly different. However great literature, in the right hands, can make for very entertaining cinema. Such is the case with Guy Ritchie’s interpretation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s greatest character.
Mr. Ritchie provides us with quite a departure from the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce “Holmes and Watson”. Here we get dazzling special effects and near super-human feats and stunts. Another twist is that this Holmes here is no meticulous, fastidious bore in real life. In fact, he lives more like a frat boy or rock star – replete with trashed room and bouts of isolation.
What is not missing is Holmes’ world class attention to detail. The story here is multi-layered and actually very interesting, if not a bit high-minded and high-concept. The still-under-construction Tower Bridge plays a role in the film and the bleakness and gray of London is captured perfectly.
Of course, I won’t reveal any details of the story other than to say the “good” guys are out to get a real bad guy here … wonderfully played by the always solid Mark Strong, who may or may not be dead. That always makes for an interesting case! Support from Rachel McAdams and Eddie Marsan are fine, but Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law are the real stars as Holmes and Watson. As odd as it seems, they really do have a buddy factor that works well on screen. Downey’s physicality has always set him apart from many contemporary actors … he moves like a dancer and fights like a champion. Jude Law is often too pretty-boy for me, but he really does a nice job of capturing the reluctant sidekick with complimentary skills.
This is a BIG movie! It is made to be a rollicking good time with tons of popcorn munched. Smaller kids will not be able to follow the story, but anyone who has read a Holmes story (and isn’t against a little artistic license) should see the film. It is extremely entertaining and fun to watch.