A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 62 – Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Sherlock Holmes (2009) – May 1st, 2010

This morning, via Bill Corbett’s twitter, we learned that it is Law Day. And yes! It is! He said it was proper to celebrate all things John Philip Law, but we’ve already watched Barbarella and our other two JPL movies are MST3K episodes. So even though Bill Corbett says it’s strictly forbidden to celebrate Jude Law on Law Day, we decided to flaunt convention and put in Sherlock Holmes, and damn the harsh penalties Corbett warned of!

We’ve seen this movie already, but we saw it in the theater first. And I admit, I went into it a little dubious. I grew up on the written stories – though it’s been so long since I read them that I’m not good enough with details to cite the many references I know this movie has – and the Jeremy Brett Holmes television series. Much as I like Robert Downey Jr. I wasn’t really sure how he’d do Holmes and how the movie would work out. It was being marketed as an action movie, which, given the success of Iron Man probably seemed like a good plan. It’s a pity they went that way, because while there is a good deal of action in the movie, there’s also a good deal of genuine mystery and puzzle solving by Holmes. And I mentioned the references. There are a lot. More than I can pick out on my own, but I’ve read lists made by people with more Holmes knowledge than I’ve got and they were impressive. I really do think the people involved in making this movie loved the source material and truly wanted to make sure they communicated that.

As mysteries go, it’s not the best ever written, but the story of one conveniently named Lord Blackwood and his scheme to destroy not only a secret society that stood in his way but all of Parliament as well works just fine as a big screen Holmes mystery. Irene Adler isn’t the best part of the movie, but her presence and her employer’s both set up a sequel nicely enough. I admit, I was worried about the supernatural aspects of the movie to begin with when I first saw it, but I knew by the end Holmes would explain it all, and I was right.

One of my favorite things about the movie is how it breaks things down. Both Holmes’ fights and the way he figures out the mystery and gets things done. The bit where he follows Irene at the start, and we first see the scene play out normally, then we see how Holmes followed her and disguised himself and how he got to the scene we saw originally. Nicely done, and when it’s done, it doesn’t really slow things down as much as one might think. The fight scenes where we get Holmes’ thought process are also very nice. A little slower than they could be, but it showcases how even mid-action Holmes is observing his surroundings and making deductions and plans based on details most people wouldn’t even know were there. My one complaint about it is that after it’s done a couple of times, it’s abandoned. I understand why – it could get tedious, or it could slow things down more than the movie could stand – but it feels like it should at least have come out one more time near the end. But then the end does have Holmes’ explanation for how Darkwood managed all his feats, which I thoroughly enjoyed, so I’ll forgive the fight breakdown absence.

All in all, when we first saw this we came out of the theater smiling and saying to each other “Wow, that was a lot better than I expected!” And it holds up. Even knowing the story and the tricks and the answer to the mystery, I still had a good time watching this tonight and I suspect I’ll watch it a few more times and enjoy it just as much then too. Some of that could be the Holmes and Watson interaction, which is absolutely fantastic, and the dialogue in general. It’s wonderfully written and wonderfully performed and Watson gets to kick ass and be competent! So adding all of that to the gimicks above (and they are gimicks, but nicely done ones) makes for a fun movie.

May 1, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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