Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sherlock Holmes (2009) - Movie Review - 7/10

Something Is Afoot

How to explain the plot? I'm sure we're all familiar with the characters and basic premise of Sherlock Holmes, the eponymous detective, whether we are fans or not. This new take on the old stories is directed by Guy Ritchie of 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' and 'Snatch' fame, starring Robert Downey Jr. (Chaplin, A Scanner Darkly, Iron Man) as Holmes with Jude Law (A.I., Enemy at the Gates, Sky Captain) as his ever-faithful sidekick Watson. Joining them is Rachel McAdams (The Notebook, Red Eye, The Time Traveller's Wife) as Irene Adler, a past flame of Holmes with a dubious criminal past.

The plot, such as it is, revolves around the menacing Lord Blackwood played by Mark Strong (Sunshine, Stardust, The Young Victoria), and his nefarious plans for world domination using a combination of cunning villainy and possible black magic. Holmes and Watson must race against time to discover his true goal, and foil his plans before they reach a terrible conclusion.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the original author of Sherlock Holmes, would often hint at the macabre and occasionally supernatural elements, and it is good to see that the overall themes and atmosphere remain familiar. I'll hold my hands up and admit, that despite the more action-oriented tone at odds with the original, I enjoyed the film. Which is the first time I can honestly say that for a Guy Ritchie movie.

It all plays fast and loose with the characters of Holmes and Watson, making them much closer to being equal partners than usually portrayed. Robert Downey Jr. manages a fair British accent, and with co-star Jude Law, the jovial repartee and buddy-movie clich├ęs always keep things light-hearted. It's obvious that the two stars had a ball, and as a result, the cheery and adventurous atmosphere is infectious. Alongside the banter and camaraderie, there is plenty of enjoyable over-the-top action, whilst the sets and special effects are for the most part pleasingly successful at re-creating a vision of Victorian London which keeps us rooted in that world.

Don't get me wrong, the film is never going to win any awards. It simply aims to be a well polished bit of Hollywood fun, and unlike some of its other recent compatriots, it succeeds at this goal. It's doubtful that it will leave you with a particularly lasting impression, but at least you are likely to leave with a smile.

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