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It’s Elementry Watson

Sherlock Holmes

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, and Eddie Marsan

Directed by: Guy Ritchie

Written by: Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, and Simon Kinberg

I have always liked the idea of Sherlock Holmes, an investigator during the late 1800’s who is able to figure out things with only a few clues.  I mainly know Holmes from episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and also from a few movies that I saw during high school when our teacher would show us them as examples of how life worked in the nineteenth century.    So I never really read the novels which makes it impossible for me to know for sure how representative of Holmes this version is, but I think its pretty close.   A lot of people say that the movie has too much action to be a Holmes movie or that it has elements that he would never use like the fighting sequence but I disagree because everything this version of Holmes does is in an effort to solve the case.

Spoilers do follow below…
Sherlock Holmes from Guy Ritchie starts off with Holmes and Watson working to bring down Lord Blackwood and after they do it’s really only the beginning of the entire story.   At first I wasn’t really sure what was going on and I am sure that most people felt the same way, but it was never boring to watch , the camera shots were wonderful and the acting was spot on.  I already knew that Robert Downey Jr. could do a passable English accent because his Australian one from Tropic Thunder was done so well, Downey Jr. is an under appreciated actor I think, he has all of the skills to be a great actor and for the most part he is because he likes doing the films that he does.   He’ll probably never win an award for playing the characters that he does, but that doesn’t really matter and I’m getting off of track here….

The movie really gets going when Lord Blackwood is hung for his crime of killing young girls for ritual sacrifice and he tells Holmes that thing are only beginning and they are.    Lord Blackwood you see rises from the dead and we’re lead to believe that all of this supernatural stuff is happening around him because of it.   This is where the movie is truly Sherlock Holmes like.   he investigates pervious places that Blackwood has been uncovering secrets of what Blackwood and his servant Reordan had been doing.

The thing is, he never tells us the audience what he uncovers, it’s almost as if we’re Watson, unaware of what is going on in the dark around us because we have some of the clues but not all of them.    This is classic Sherlock Holmes I believe, the stories were always from Watson’s point of view not Holmes and a lot of other stories forget that.   So while Holmes suspects what is going on he doesn’t tell Watson until he has all of the facts.

There is also the mystery of Sherlock Holmes’s ex-girlfriend Irene Adler (Played wonderfully by Rachel McAdams)who has returned to town and is working for a mysterious man with a gun on his hand.   Who this man is wasn’t revealed until close to the end of the film, but if you paid attention to the clues you could figure it out.  Although the first time through I thought it was someone working with Blackwood who wanted Holmes to find out what Blackwood had been working on so he could continue the plot.    Instead we get a plot within a plot that also leads up to a possible sequel.

There are more than a few funny sequences within the movie, like the one where Holmes is tied to the bed by Irene Adler naked.  The cleaning lady comes in and he says something that could be crude if you think about it but he was being serious about where the key was.   I also love the mis-direction in the film, we are led to believe all the way up till close to the end that Lestrade and and Holmes truly do not like one another so it gives you a moment of surprise later in the film when Holmes meets with Lord Coward.   The thing about this movie is misdirection and little clues, which is what Sherlock Holmes is all about.

The ending is pure Holmes, he shows the villain Lord Blackwood that he has not fooled him one bit, that he knows how he did everything, how he fooled others in to believing that he was capable of the super-natural.   Of course at the same time Adler led Holmes on a mis-direction of his own revealing what Moriarty was really after all along in the process when it’s too late for Holmes to stop it from being taken.    Which will no doubt lead into the sequel.

There is also one scene that some people have not said is Holmes, but I think is.   It’s a fighting sequence where he is in a pit with a man and the two of them are exchanging fisticuffs, it’s not exactly something you would have seen in the books.   Still it fits with the character of Holmes.   The sequence reaches a point where you realize he could have taken this man out at any time but didn’t bother until he was ready to.   He analyzes the sequence and we see it as he analyzes how he is going to take the guy down and then he takes the guy down just as he thought about how he was going to do it.   How else would someone like Holmes fight?

There is a scene in the film where Holmes and Watson are trying to save Adler which you would think is an action sequence because they have to get her down from the saw before it’s too late, but how Holmes and Watson solve the problem is by looking around the enviroment and finding out how to stop the machine without really stopping it.   This leads to her barely making it out alive, and then the explosion happens out on the dock which leads to another sequence where Holmes disguises himself as a doctor.    His disguises are wonderful as well, he only does it twice, but its effective both times.

In the end there is little in this movie that isn’t perfectly done,  you’re always left with the mystery and how it gets solved, if you’ve seen the film before and watch it again you’ll see that you still find it enjoyable because you know how the plot comes together and you start to pick up things that you may not have noticed before when you watched it the first time.

Sherlock Holmes is a pleasure to watch from beginning to end and this is how you bring an older series back into modern times, well just have to see if Guy Ritchie and everyone else involved with this one can pull it together for a sequel and keep it as interesting and as fresh as the original.

What they did right: The tight script that kept the mystery going from beginning to end, the actors fit their own parts perfectly, you forget pretty early on that  Robert Downey Jr. is not british and you just start to really love his Holmes.   The camera work is wonderful and the CGI is either used rarely or its done so well that you can’t tell what is CGI and what is not.

What they did wrong: Was the big guy and the shipyard really necessary?  Yes it was fun but it wasn’t really necessary.   There really isn’t anything else I can find fault with.

Overall: 95/100

A great movie with a great plot all acted out by great actors and directed by a true master of the craft.   I can’t wait for the sequel.