A guy friend of mine once told me that the difference between a chick flick and a guy’s film is whether or not someone dies. If no one dies or gets blown up, then it’s a chick film. All of the jaw-dropping action does not count.
That said, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes character has evolved over the decades into something of a gentleman with a disposition for figuring out mysteries. He is, arguably, the quintessential character upon which many detectives have been based, like Ms. Marple and Jessica Fletcher on “Murder, She Wrote.” Yet Holmes has never appealed to my generation of audiences and readers. He’s just too stuffy.
Well, that was until Guy Ritchie Dr. House’d him and made him into a calculating, deducing, frazzled machine of quick surmising. His bromance with his dear partner Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is significant in that it calls to attention the relationship between Dr. Gregory House and Dr. Wilson on the Fox TV series “House.” Incidentally, Hugh Laurie, who plays House, is from England.
Yet Ritchie, who directed the film, has made a reboot of Holmes that is close to the original Holmes that was created at the turn of the 20th century, according to some Holmes experts.
Sherlock Holmes is about Holmes’ (played by Robert Downey Jr.) quest to find out how and why Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) has escaped from his tomb, after he has been hung for witchcraft. On his quest, he is re-united with the only woman who intrigues him – Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) – and he gets Watson into quite a few sticky situations.
Ritchie is known not only for being Madonna’s latest ex-husband, but also because his name is synonymous with such bombs as Snatch, Star, and Swept Away. Thankfully, he soon saw the errors of his ways, er talents, and directed his films in a better way.
RocknRolla, starring Gerard Butler, opened to rave reviews, and audiences loved it. And now, there’s Sherlock Holmes. Ritchie has outdone himself with his latest version of the beloved Doyle character.
I love that Holmes is a calculating figure, and has such a great general knowledge of science and seeing all of the facts and details laid out in front of him. He really is Dr. House, detective style. Gregory House is my favorite TV doctor, by the way.
Screenwriters Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg, (with story creation by Lionel Wigram and Johnson) have put together a film that is a little on the predictable side, however. Now, for those of you who hate spoilers, you should skip the next paragraph.
Lord Blackwood managed to elude Scotland Yard in death. But from the beginning, it was obvious to me that he used some kind of compound to render himself unconscious long enough to be placed into his tomb and escape. I knew Blackwood didn’t have any super powers, just a really good scientist backing him. For the uninitiated mystery fan, these plot points are well executed by Johnson and company.
On to the actors: Downey has had a rocky career since the beginning. But his amazing recovery has translated into a gigantic comeback. Not only is his Iron Man a success, but Holmes is sure to be a success, too. Law is great as put-upon Dr. Watson.
He is always reluctantly going along with whatever crazy plan Holmes can come up with. He sometimes gets hurt on these quests, but he is a true and loyal friend who comes to Holmes’ aid when he needs it most. I wish there were more Watsons in the real world. We all need one.
McAdams’ Irene is a saucy and resourceful woman. She only has to be rescued once, and she can definitely take care of herself. McAdams is more than just Holmes’ romantic lead; she’s the added cherry on top of his partnership with Watson.
And then there is Strong, whose sinister Blackwood is both scary and vicious. He kills without thought and, yet, doesn’t really seem to be enjoying himself. He’s a devious person, but he’s not getting very much pleasure out of it; which makes him somewhat human. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but Blackwood is well played by Strong.
If I think about the latest Holmes’ appeal to audiences, I would say this is definitely a guy’s film. There are a few deaths, and Holmes’ seems to be a total guy’s man.
He’s strong, calm, and quite talented. But Ritchie, Johnson, and the other writers of this film made sure to have a strong heroine for female audiences.
All in all, Sherlock Holmes does justice to the legacy of the character, in my book. It’s also a definite watch.