Review: Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes | Guy Ritchie, 2009

I went into Sherlock Holmes with relatively low expectations. Reviews were mostly good and it had an excellent box office run, but even so I was not very excited for it. So, when the time came to watch it, I was just expecting something that would keep me entertained for a couple of hours and some RDJ awesomeness. It did deliver on those fronts, but in the end I still felt kind of underwhelmed.

In this movie, Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey  Jr.), the most clever and smart detective in England, catches Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who has killed five young women during black magic rites. He is sent to prison, hanged, and pronounced dead by Dr. Watson (Jude Law). However, one day he is seen by coming out of his grave, and the police panics, and Holmes is once again brought back to investigate what has happened. In addition to that, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), Holmes’ former flame and con artist, returns to ask him to do a job for her, but being who she is, things are more complicated than that. Plus, Watson is about to propose to his girlfriend, and that doesn’t sit well with Holmes.

The trailers for this movie made it seem like it was an action-packed adventure. Holmes had never been portrayed like that, but I was fine with it. But it turns out that the movie was more brainy and dialogue driven than what I was expecting. That would have been fine, but the script is not strong enough for sucha a movie. The plot is thin, the dialogue is fine but weak, and the characters are not developed well-enough. Also, the set up for the sequel is horrible.

As for Ritchie’s direction, I guess it was fine. He handles the action sequences really well, as well as the more quiet scenes. I’m glad the slow scenes, at least the ones with Holmes fighting had a meaning behind them and that he didn’t succumb to Snyder-vision. Yet, nothing about his work blew me away. I guess I should give him props for casting the actors, who pretty much save the movie.

RDJ is as awesome as ever in the role of Holmes. I totally believe that he was a smart guy with some love and friendship issues. His accent was a bit hard to understand from time to time, but that’s about his only problem. Law is also very good as Watson. It is definitely one of his best performances, and it works because he has such good chemistry with RDJ. Then there are Eddie Marsdan, Mark Strong, and the lovely Kelly Riley who do wonders with the little bit of weak material that they are given. The only weak performance oddly comes from Rachel McAdams, who is usually the best thing about the movies she makes. She just wasn’t made for the role, and she knew it, which made her not give it the best she could.

The production is also hit-and-miss. I liked the art direction, but the CGI backgrounds were distracting. The costumes were very well made and fit the period. The cinematography was annoying and sometimes took me out of the movie. And Hans Zimmer’s score is his most creative, most fun, and overall his best of the last decade.

Sherlock Holmes is not a great movie, but it is a good way to kill a couple of hours. Hopefully the sequel is better, but from what the set up is, I don’t think I should let my expectations go up.

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