A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 387 – Young Sherlock Holmes

Young Sherlock Holmes – March 22nd, 2011

When we bought this movie and put it on our list I was quite sure I’d seen it, so I marked it down as one I’d seen before and went on my merry way. We keep track of these things, you see, along with running time, subtitles and whether a movie is part of a series or theme (like Christmas or sharks – and now I want a Christmas shark movie). It helps to space things out so we don’t end up with only new things towards the end of the project when we might want or need something familiar and easy to watch and review. And really, I was certain I’d seen this. I could remember seeing it when I was young and having a bit of a crush on the actor who played Holmes. And then we started watching it and I was baffled. I could barely remember it at all.

Obviously, it’s been years since I last saw it. Or first saw it. I suspect it’s one and the same and I further suspect it was something I saw on television when the choice of channel was not mine to control, hence my patchy recollections. I remember Holmes’ mentor’s flying machine. I remember the fencing. And I remember the end quite clearly. But I think I was wrong in marking this as one I’d seen. It was mostly unfamiliar, even if I did figure out the end quite early on.

Not that this is a difficult story to follow, after all. I mean, yes, it is, from a certain perspective. If you’re looking for actual logic and realistic stories, this is the wrong movie. There’s a certain type of story that I expect from most Sherlock Holmes mysteries and it’s usually not quite so overblown as this one is. A hidden pyramid temple with an ancient Egyptian cult entombing live girls? It’s more than a bit larger than life, which means if you’re looking for a more down to earth explanation for the mysterious deaths then you’ll be disappointed. But if you can accept that it’s going to be ridiculous, then it’s not tricky. It’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be an outrageous mystery full of danger and peril and swordfighting that will pull in the audience and keep them entertained. And it is entertaining, ridiculous as it may be.

As I mentioned, the plot involves an ancient Egyptian cult and entombing live girls. And it’s all a vengeance thing, of course, with the villain vowing to replace the mummies of five Egyptian princesses that were taken from their tombs in an underground pyramid. Why does he do this by pre-wrapping live young women and then pouring boiling paraffin over them? Because he’s evil and bent on revenge, obviously, and his revenge doesn’t need to make sense! Now, were I the one exacting revenge (or writing the movie), I wouldn’t go killing the men I wanted to get revenge on and entombing random young women. I’d hunt down the daughters/nieces/wives of the men and go after them. But this movie doesn’t go into that sort of detail. It just has Holmes happen upon this mystery due to the involvement of his mentor, a retired schoolmaster who lives in the attic at his boarding school.

The biggest problem I have with the movie (leaving aside the love interest, jokes about Watson’s eating habits and the method of mummification) is that it’s uneven and paced oddly. The movie spends a good fifteen minutes or so having Holmes solve a minor mystery at the school, where his school rival hides a trophy and Holmes has to find it. And I get that it was an attempt to showcase the sort of deductions Holmes is so famous for. I get that as a movie about Holmes as a young man at school it makes sense to have him start small. But it has nothing at all to do with the main plot and only holds up the eventual big mystery (which ends up requiring very little in the way of the sort of deductions Holmes does in the little mystery). Holmes ends up expelled from school due to a trick played by his school rival and I’m honestly not sure what purpose that served other than giving him an excuse to spend more time up in his mentor’s attic. The drama at the school isn’t balanced at all with the larger story and just feels tossed in for no reason. Why not build up the eventual villains? Why not find a way to tie the school rival or his hidden trophy challenge into the larger plot? Oh well.

All that aside, the only other issue I’ve got is the narration. It’s performed well enough, with an adult Watson recounting the tale of how he met and befriended Sherlock Holmes, but it’s a bit of a blunt instrument when it comes to plot exposition. I don’t actually mind the love interest, especially given the ending. And I really do like this movie. It’s got flaws, yes. I just don’t care so much about them that they ruin my enjoyment of the movie. It’s fun. It’s got some nice little references to the canon material. It’s a romp. An uneven romp with some hilariously bad history on display, but a fun romp anyhow. And what more would you expect from a movie like this?

March 22, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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