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The title of this post is intentionally mis-leading. The recently-released Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law is not a faptastic romp down miskatonic lane. That’s what I was worried about when I saw the trailers. That, and that they were going to turn our beloved Holmes into a worldly, playful, man-about-town, bereft of any sense of dignity, who just happens to be the world’s only consulting detective.
All of my fears were needless. Holmes is brilliantly portrayed by the increasingly-impressive Robert Downey Jr, who must have spent many hours watching countless episodes of Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of the same character. That being said, this is not simply Robert Downey Jr channeling Jeremy Brett. While he certainly took some cues from the old man (dry wit, an air of detached amusement concerning the human race in general), he also brought his own unique touch to the role (indignant refusal to wipe away the wine thrown in his face).
The characterization of Holmes, both by writer and actor, are, in short, brilliant. In long: This particular adventure could easily have been written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It lacks none of his subtle attention to nuance and character, and the plot and themes are typical of his style. I don’t know what to say, other than “fear not. This is Sherlock Holmes.”
At the beginning of the film, everything felt so familiar that I kept trying to figure out what actual Holmes adventure the movie was based on. There are several elements pulled from different cases, and they kept gnawing at my brain. For example, upon the initial appearance of Irene Adler, I leaned over to Kerry and whispered “the woman.”
From Holmes’ dry (and mostly successful) attempts at wit, to Watson’s feigned unwillingness to participate in Holmes’ shenanigans, to the climactic end scene, in which Holmes reveals the few missing details of the case, this is a Sherlock Holmes tale like any other. In my humble opinion, it lacked only a visit from Mycroft, who could easily still have been played by the legendary Christopher Lee.
To those who have seen the trailers: Yes, there is dabblement in the occult, magic and the supernatural. No, these still are not real things in the world of Sherlock Holmes. Do not go into this movie with the assumption that this is anything other than an adventure of Sherlock Holmes, as recorded and reported (and embellished) by Dr. Watson.
I just can’t say enough how much this movie exceeded my expectations. After seeing the previews, I was setup for a huge disappointment. Had I done my homework, I would have known ahead of time that this is a Guy Ritchie film, and since it is not titled “Revolver” (don’t even bother with that one), I probably have nothing to worry about.