Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Third Time's A Charm

I'm from a small town in South Carolina. Unless you go to a neighboring city, there is literally one movie theater for you to go to, and it only has 8 screens. Now I'm not complaining. In fact, I generally like going to smaller theaters. But trying to go to go see Sherlock Holmes was a bit of a pain over the Christmas holiday -- I ended up having to try the theater on three different occasions before I finally made a showing that wasn't sold out. Apparently, everyone else in town also wanted to go to the movies this weekend. This was, of course, good for Hollywood, but bad for me. But I digress. Back to the point of this post -- Sherlock Holmes (preview post here).

The movie itself was decent. The soundtrack was pretty cool, a sort of mix between Irish and Eastern Eurpoean music (I know that sounds weird, but it's the only way I know to describe it). And the set of London in 1891 was pretty masterfully done. Predictably, Robert Downey Jr. was very good as Sherlock Holmes. He was by far the funniest character in the movie, full of witty comebacks to much of the rest of the cast. But he wasn’t exactly what I expected. Despite his brilliance and superior fighting skills (there are a few scenes where Holmes plans out how he will engage an opponent in battle that are really pretty cool), Holmes was a drunken, disheveled mess for much of the film. And without the help of the more composed Watson (Jude Law), one can’t help but think that Holmes would not have done much, if any, criminal investigation. Watson, by the way, is very much Holmes’s equal (and arguably a better fighter) in the film. The two have a constant internal struggle concerning Watson’s engagement (and subsequent resignation from crime investigation) to the beautiful Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly).

The dynamic duo is joined by Rachel McAdams’ Irene Adler, a cunning thief in her own right and Holmes’ love interest. McAdams’ Adler is really only an average character. She doesn’t add much to this movie (despite being nice to look at) as her character is really never given a chance to develop, and I hope her role gets expanded if any sequels are made. She is employed by Moriarty (who does not play much of a role in this film either, but his presence leaves the door open for sequels – he is Holmes’ chief rival in the book series) to assist Holmes in stopping the sinister Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong). Through the use of chemistry and other clever tricks, Lord Blackwood has convinced the world that he is the risen dead and has dark magical powers. It’s up to Holmes and company to stop Blackwood and expose him as a fraud. I won’t lie to you. Blackwood is one of the least intimidating villains of any superhero movie of recent memory (I suppose you may not consider Holmes a superhero, but he really is when you think about it).

Despite some pretty solid performances in the film (especially Downey, Jr.), I say that this was only a decent film because the plot itself was somewhat lacking. Most of the movie is just strange events happening that make Lord Blackwood seem supernatural and Holmes and Watson fighting various Blackwood henchmen. Then, Holmes spends about five minutes at the end of the film explaining to Lord Blackwood (and the audience) that he’s figured out how Blackwood has managed to pull off his tricks. It feels very much like watching a cartoon episode of Scooby-Doo and having Velma explain everything at the end. I know that Guy Ritchie fans might have expected just such an ending (consider the ending of Snatch, for example, where we learn that a “pikey” reaction is “quite a f**king thing”). But there is a notable difference between a twist ending and watching a film where you know that truths will ultimately be revealed, only to have them done so in a seemingly arbitrary fashion at the end of the film.

Bottom line: This was a decent movie anchored by some good acting. But it wasn't really a great one. Guy Ritchie's career definitely needed a blockbuster like this, and I think a sequel could be much better than the first. (B-).

Here's the preview:


  1. the glorious aiken mall 8

  2. Why didn't you inform them that you were the smartest kid to come out of Aiken in 25 years? Surely they would've allowed you entry if they had known that little tidbit.