Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Sherlock Holmes" - REVIEW

It's official: Robert Downey Jr. can now add a second franchise to his resurrected career, and luckily, it's a good one. Add in the fact that Iron Man 2 opens a tad less than five months from now, and it's hard to see Downey Jr. slowing down any time soon, which is hardly a bad thing. He's found a new semi-tongue-in-cheek niche that suits him well, especially in his latest cinematic outing, Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, a reinvention of the classic sleuth that is both more faithful to the character designs of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original, with an added, action-oriented twist. Holmes is no longer a perfect, clean, faultless genius, but a bit of a careless eccentric. He's still brilliant, but there are others too. I'm a bit scatterbrained at the moment, so I figure this will work best if I just list a few points to talk about. Hmmm...point number 1...

#1. Holmes and Watson: Downey Jr. is very fun as Holmes, but the real surprise here is the film's (and Jude Law's) treatment of Watson. In prior cinematic versions Watson is reduced to being a sidekick, and nothing more than a foil for the almost irritatingly brilliant Holmes. That's certainly not the case here. Watson is quite an impressive character and more than holds his own in both intelligence and combat (it is revealed early on that he served in the military). In fact, by making Watson a more impressive equal to Holmes, the Holmes character becomes even more bearable and much more fun.

#2. The supporting players: Sadly, the supporting players don't fare as well, for several reasons. Easily the best is Mark Strong as the film's villain, Lord Blackwood, who appears to have risen from the grave. There's also Happy-Go-Lucky's Eddie Marsan, who has a few nice moments but on the whole is terribly underused. Last is Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, Holmes' love interest of sorts. Unfortunately, McAdams feels somewhat miscast, and her delivery feels too light to compete; the role already needed to be fleshed out a hint more, but the simple change to a slightly older actress (maybe Downey Jr.'s Iron Man co-star Gwyneth Paltrow??) would have been a better romantic interest/rival.

#3. The mystery/story: Though it could probably be cut down by 10 minutes, the story is engaging and does evoke genuine suspense as it builds towards its finale, even if the denouement prattles on a bit.

#4. The action: Surprisingly, not really a bad thing. Instead of throwing in the action angle lazily, there are several moments in which we see Holmes methodically running through the process of taking down his opponent in his head, showing him to be a thinking fighter, and not a blunt bruiser.

#5. The other stuff (artistic/techs): It all looks great, though the camera work during the earlier fights could afford to be a bit clearer. Best out of everything is Hans Zimmer's lively score.

One last thought: The film has many similarities to Batman Begins: re-imagining of a classic character, somewhat generic love interest and villain, and an obvious hint at much grander events in the sequel (a very special Holmes villain is set up for throughout the whole film).

Grade: B

No comments: