Monday, January 4, 2010

Sherlock Holmes (2009) – Review

Sherlock Holmes is a fun time at the theatre. The film lives and breathes on its characters, especially Holmes and Watson. Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law bring the characters to life, maybe not how one would expect, but they are amusing, have great chemistry and ultimately save the film from being just another mindless buddy Hollywood action outing. The issue with the film is the story and some of the characters are only there to set up the next film, which can still work, but here it creates some narrative structure problems. The ending of the film (the final showdown between Holmes and Blackwood, not the epilogue that follows it) seems to just happen, there is not sense of build up, no expectation, leaving the viewer feeling like there was more to come (and there is if you consider the sequel), but not so much in a cliffhanger way, more of a this story feels stunted and incomplete, thus it organically feels like there is more (but there is not, at least not with Blackwood). Guy Ritchie (who has made a series of bad films following his first two good films) must be pretty happy to have had such a great cast, saving him from yet another blah film. His visual style (slightly copied from The Hughes Bros.’ From Hell, but not quite as dark) works well, and Ritchie does use his camera well, though the editing is a bit awkward at times. Hans Zimmer delivers another very good score, which fits quite well with the tone and the material. Back to the performances, as they are the point, and why someone should want to see this, Downey Jr is nothing short of great, though he seems to have mixed a bit of his own oddball acting with a dose of Captain Jack Sparrow. Law, on the other hand, feels very much like a Ritchie character, and is played very well, complimenting Downey Jr’s work perfectly. Their chemistry alone is enough to build a successful franchise on. Rachel McAdams is good, but her character is fairly pointless, other than to set up the villain of the sequel. And Mark Strong, who is always good, really does not have all that much to do, but still makes a suitable villain, though the story could have used a bit more direct interaction between Holmes and Blackwood. Another issue, arising from the Blackwood character is that it was interesting and kind of cool that the dark magic seemed real, putting Holmes and Watson off their element, making the revel feel like a let down, and overall hurting the story. Eddie Marsan and Kelly Reilly are good in their small roles (it is nice to see Reilly get in a big American movie, I hope she gets more roles here in the future as she is generally very good). So at the end of the day, Sherlock Holmes is very entertaining, but hollow, surviving (if not succeeding) on the fine work of its actors. 7/10

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