Reviewed by: Alex Lagerwey. Viewed on: 26/12/2009
‘Does your depravity know no bounds?’ – Watson
There comes a time every year in a young girls life when there is much cause for excitement and a fair bit of drooling. Or at least in this girls life. Christmas is altogether too stressful with the family and the presents and the lack of funds to satisfy either. But Boxing Day…there is a day I can look forward to.
A tradition that begun when I was a wee child and my mother would brave the Boxing Day crowds and take us to the latest family friendly offering at the local megaplex. The tradition was thus cemented with the annual release of the Lord of the Ring films each Boxing Day which, I admit, I looked forward to all year. This year we decided to keep on keeping on and after a near death experience with a group of mothers, their prams and a couple trolleys full of bargains we settled down to watch Sherlock Holmes.
Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes is a curious beast. The plot seems to have cherry-picked all the most interesting bits from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels and short stories and mashed them all together to create a rollicking plot. There seems to be little cohesion to the storyline apart from Holmes and Watson, without which the story would likely fall apart. There’s a lot of hocus-pocus and black magic with dead pigs and dead midgets and men with sweeping coats and imposing facial hair and…wait Holmes has his shirt off again…
Robert Downy Jr. has been cast magnificently as Sherlock Holmes, playing a multi-layer character who is all at once brilliant, lovable, a scoundrel, a pain in the arse and downright devious. Perhaps it was only me, but I often found some of Holmes dialogue to be quite unintelligible, mumbling whole sentences while looking around vaguely with wide eyes. Jude Law meanwhile, speaking in his native accent with diction sharp and clear, compliments Holmes’ erratic behaviour portraying a strict military man with the long-suffering face of a person who is only tolerating being belittled because Holmes is in fact, a genius. Both men wear their costumes with utmost aplomb making one wish all men were fond of wearing three-piece suits, spiffy cravats, suspenders and canes topping it all off with a dapper hat. Victorian England may well have been restricting in its morals but they sure looked good.
Rachel McAdams while being completely stunning is luke-warm as a character and as the film reaches its CGI aided conclusion you can’t help but groan at the ending which, with the subtly of a sledgehammer, leaves the film open to a sequel. It reminded me of the film Richie made before Holmes, RocknRolla which used pretty much an identical ending, despite being set some hundred-odd years later.
Despite all of this, the film is damn fun. The sets look real, gritty and lived in. You can smell the filth of Victorian England, the mud on the boots, the blood on the knuckles. Holmes’ narration and slo-mo effects are well used and watching Holmes observe, deduct and deduce is genius. It’s everything I want from my Boxing Day film and a bit of Robert Downy without his shirt never hurt anyone either. Elementary, really.