Holmes for the holidays

Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes is the perfect cure for the holiday blues. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than hanging out in pseudo steampunk 19th century London with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law.

Sherlock Holmes balances the explosions and fight scenes one would expect from a Ritchie film with a crisp, witty script. The plot is fairly straightforward: Holmes and Watson’s last case before Watson moves out of their rooms and strikes out on his own is that of Lord Blackwood, a supposed practitioner of dark arts. When Blackwood’s hanging has odd results, “the game is afoot.”

The film rests largely on the charm of Downey and Law, who carry off the Holmes/Watson dynamic with aplomb. I found myself sitting back and just letting the bromance work its magic. After Iron Man, it should come as no surprise that Downey can play the dissolute genius to the letter. And that this film, too, will kick off a franchise is a given. His Holmes is as adept with his brain as he is with his fists, and the defining characteristics of the sleuth — his pipe, his violin, his addiction — are all present. Law’s Watson is a great counterpoint: Perfectly pressed, tolerant of his friend’s vices, yet not without his own. Rachel McAdams as Irene and Kelly Reilly as Mary round out the principal cast and they both hold their own despite the fact that Holmes and Watson’s dynamic is a thousand times more couple-like than their relationships with the women.

The mystery in Sherlock Holmes is something that’s fairly easy to solve, but that doesn’t make the process any less entertaining.

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4 thoughts on “Holmes for the holidays

  1. I didn’t love it quite as much as you did although I did enjoy it, particularly Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law. I would watch it again just to watch those too. While I liked Kelly Reilly, I felt that the whole Rachel McAdams/Irene Adler storyline was just tacked on to set up the sequel and wasn’t really organic or necessary to the film.

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    • It wasn’t the best thing ever, but I went in with really, really low expectations, so I think that’s why I enjoyed it. And, yeah, Rachel McAdams was so clearly just to bring in the Moriarty aspect of the story and set-up the sequel that I didn’t pay her much mind. I don’t know/don’t think that anyone really came away from the film going, “OMG! Irene and Holmes are soulmates!” and caring about what happens to her.

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  2. Really agreed with everything you said. Frankly, I was surprised by some of the reviews and their “righteous indignation” about “Holmes canon” and all that twat. Since when has ANY Holmes film given a toss about canon? Rathbone and Bruce? “Seven Percent Solution”? “Young Sherlock Holmes”? Give me a break! The New York Times reviewer, of all people, didn’t seem to know that the Irene Adler character was actually canon, so that’s how worthless his opinion was. Is there that much of a Guy Ritchie backlash? Could they be made because he broke up with Madonna??? Curious.

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    • I don’t know if there’s Ritchie backlash, but there definitely seems to be this problem of a preconceived notion of what/who Sherlock Holmes is. It’s as though people don’t REALIZE Irene’s importance is canon, that Holmes boxed and therefore wasn’t just a brain, etc. They just think of a dude in a funny hat, with a pipe, walking around going, “Elementary, my dear, Watson.”

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