Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sherlock Holmes

I feel woefully inadequate to be writing about Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, for two reasons:

1) I saw it after working a late shift and not sleeping the night before, so I dozed a bit.

2) Aside from a solitary mystery I read for a college class and which I barely remember, I have read zero percent of the Doyle canon. I'm also pretty sure I haven't seen any significant portions of any of the kajillion film and television portrayals.

However, I do know the caricature. Houndstooth hat, calabash, Baker Street, "elementary," and "the game's afoot." So I'm not entirely a blank slate. But close.

If you want a look at the film from someone who is immersed in the canon, check out this awesome review by Drew McWeeny (who used to go by the name Moriarty on Ain't It Cool News). There's something pleasing to me about the way he sort of punctures the popular portrayals of Holmes, which he claims are not really that close to Doyle's Holmes, but have stuck and people are attached to them.

What I can tell you about my impressions of the film are twofold, and both, err, folds involve two insanely popular franchises. First, this film does for Holmesology what Abrams's Star Trek did for Star Trek. It takes an established canon and beloved characters and repackages them in an appealing, contemporary way. This will naturally infuriate many purists, though not all (I've read many glowing comments from people calling themselves Sherlockians, which I have to assume is a more-than-averagely obsessed group of Sherlock fans). What it will also do, however, is take a bit of the "geek" off of the brand and make the franchise accessible, nay, delightful for people who were not heretofore dedicated fans. In that way, I'd say Sherlock Holmes is a great success.

Second, this movie is FUN. Bombastic and ludicrous at times, but never empty, and with characters that are so enjoyable to watch it should be outlawed. In this respect, Holmes reminds me quite a bit of Pirates of the Caribbean. Think the outlandish fun of Dead Man's Chest, without the mythmaking element and setup for a final installment. I'd compare it to Black Pearl, because it's closer in those respects, but that film exists perfectly without the sequels (though I think it exists just as well with them), and Holmes could not be more deliberate in setting up sequels if it tried (which, much as I enjoyed the references, is one of its flaws).

Is this a perfect film? By no means. But it does what movies (as opposed to "films") are supposed to do - provide us with escape and entertainment. Downey and Law are positively delicious as Holmes and his heterosexual life partner Watson (the slashfic will be strong with this one), and it makes logic and intelligence sexy again, which is enough by itself for me to heartily recommend this. If you weren't one of the millions of people who already saw it this past weekend, that is.

1 comment:

  1. Oooh! I was hoping you'd review this movie soon. I'm planning on seeing it on the first if I can afford it. I'm very excited about it!