This review was originally written in December of 2009 it was edited for this blog in May of 2011
Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes greatly exceeded my expectations. While it definitely has that cotton-candy hollywood quality to it, it actually has a complex and thoughtful plot. And as you should expect it has plenty of twists, enough that you’re likely to get caught off guard at least once or twice. Its exceptionally entertaining, but has a slight intellectual edge that I wasn’t totally expecting.
Any strict fans of Holmes will likely not be satisfied with this incarnation who is equal parts action hero and sleuth. Though, I personally think that all additions to the character only made the movie more enjoyable. Robert Downey Jr does a great Job in his portrayal of Holmes and Jude Law is a great sidekick. This dynamic was very different than past depictions of the Holmes/Watson relationship, but as far as I can find it is actually more accurate to the books. Watson is never painted as a bumbling old man, rather an uptight and structured foil to Holme’s seemingly whimsical nature. Bringing this element to their partnership allows for the whole of the story to have a more energetic feel.
RD Jr.’s greatest success might be his british accent – I can’t think of a recent movie where I have heard an American actor more successfully pull off a british accent. It certainly seems like every British and Australian actor is fully capable of doing an American accent. I think after Kevin Costner’s portrayal of Robin Hood the Queen probably threatened to gather the Knights of the realm and attack us if we had another bad American actor portray a beloved British character. (Only to realize that most of the Knights of the realm are merely mediocre british actors themselves)
The biggest surprise to me was how un-steampunk the whole movie was. Giving the director, I expected there to be a more ‘spray paint and bubblegum’ quality to both the scenery and plot. My concerns were abated early on however, when the first scene opens with harpsichord music. Anachronisms were minimal and tasteful, and the plot didn’t suffer much obvious imposition of postmodernism on the industrial age.
Over all I give it a 4/5 stars; 5/5 for entertainment value and quality of production and 3/5 for family friendly-ness. It is PG-13 for a reason – the depiction of spiritualism of the 1800s is a rather mature theme for one. It is also not without its fare share sexual innuendo, language and violence – though for the most part I would say that it is surprisingly tasteful throughout. Ultimately it is really nothing but a fun movie and I think that most movie goers will enjoy it thoroughly.