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Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes?! It’s Elementary My Dear Watson

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Sherlock Holmes Movie Poster

Let’s just get something out of the way. Despite what previews and reports of film reshoots may have indicated, Guy Ritchie  did not deface the legacy of Sherlock Holmes  with his testosterone tinged, big budget update. There are quite a few flaws within the project, but overall this new Holmes is a rollicking, fun good time at the movies.

First impressions indicate that Ritchie has taken quite a few liberties with the source material, but those elements fade into what is generally a nice blend of the old and the new. The film opens with a high-octane action sequence right out of a James Bond film, equipped with slo mo action and bone crunching fight sequences. That’s enough to cause serious stomach pains, but nice surprises await when the dust settles.

One of those surprises is the stellar performance of Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes. His updated mad genius is gritty, disheveled and far more masculine that Conan Doyle’s vision, but he’s still brimming with wit and charm, and there is something truly exciting Downey brings to the character. His interplay with partner in crime Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is also excellent; a wonderful odd couple dynamic that sets off generous sparks. Law gives an admirable turn as well. Sherlock Holmes Movie Poster

  The film looks stunning. Cinematography by Philippe Rousselot  is pitch-perfect, creating a distinct, detailed picture of England’s Victorian Era. Cobblestone, horses, carriages, and smog drench the screen, rivaling the best of Tim Burton  (Sweeny Todd comes to mind). The grandiose set design is also worth mentioning.

Where the film may lose people in is in the plethora of high-octane action and the contemporary sheen. With the update comes a far more rugged, masculine Holmes, a boozer and womanizer (Holmes in a shirtless cage fight…really?!). Watson, though less altered, doesn’t exactly fit the plump image that many have known him for throughout the years. The action sequences feel like something straight out of a summer blockbuster, which is both good and bad. The entertainment factor registers high, but the smarts are shortchanged and shoved in the background. The Holmes books and movies were always known more for mystery and intelligence, and the update won’t exactly be winning any awards in that category.

Sherlock Holmes Movie Poster

As Sherlock Holmes reaches the rousing climax, there’s a sense of good ol fashioned excitement and danger. The film also pulls some nice surprise twists on the audience. Guy Ritchie turned out to be a good choice for interweaving those elements together. He also managed to create a big budget movie that still bears his gritty directorial stamp. The new Sherlock Holmes may not be perfect, but this is far better than anyone could have expected, given the odd casting and directing routes.

GRADE: B-