The Review: Sherlock Holmes
by Seth Leonard
For the Salisbury Post
“Sherlock Holmes” the movie does one thing well, and that is keep the audience entertained.
Pleasing diehard fans is never easy, especially with a series as rich as the Holmes sagas. Director Guy Ritchie does well in this regard by at least paying mind to canon.
Those familiar with the series can pick up on familiar characters and cues, like the elusive Irene Adler or various references to Holmes’ London haunts.
Someone who’s never picked up a book from the Conan Doyle series can at least appreciate the vibrant Victorian setting, which doesn’t shy away from showing some of the less savory parts of period London. The setting is gritty enough to be real, but charming enough to keep pace with the movie’s real strength: the acting.
Robert Downey Jr. (Holmes) and Jude Law (Dr. John Watson) deserve honorary degrees for the chemistry they create. Both characters are written as strong, complementary men who play off of each other in both battle and dialogue.
Holmes’ intellect borders on the impossible, as always, but both the writing and Downey paint a picture of a troubled man with talents that pin him to the fringe of society. Holmes’ appearance throughout rarely rises above haggard, creating a character that is quite dynamic, if disheveled.
Enough dry British wit is present to appeal to those who expect it, while other subtle humor pops in and out between the duo’s more overt jokes. The overall tone is serious at times, but moves fast enough and provides plenty of punchlines to punctuate longer scenes.
Rather than writing Dr. Watson as a buffoonish, fat accomplice, Ritchie gives credit to the character. A doctor and veteran of British occupations in India and Afghanistan, Watson is a confident, tough and ingenious partner for Holmes.
The plot at first appears dark and fresh, only later to be revealed as a far simpler series of schemes. However, the real joy of crime mysteries is learning the ways that the sleuth-hero deduces the truth, not necessarily what the truth is.
Some special effects don’t overwhelm the movie, rather they bring it up to code for a younger generation of viewers. Some have called the picture a 19th Century Sherlock-Bond flick, and that might not be a bad thing.
Sherlock Holmes is a very enjoyable film, rife with humor, intrigue and action, but those who’ve followed the Watson and Holmes stories will have to keep an open mind at make the most of it.