Sherlock Holmes | Film Review

The Game Is Afoot, And It's The Best Game In Town
A review of Sherlock Holmes
by Kenneth Holm
Dorkgasm Senior Staff Writer

     When I originally heard that they were making a new movie based upon my favorite literary detective of all time, I initially had a mild spot of trepidation. I had seen most, if not all, of the previous incarnations and felt they all lacked something crucial. Then, I heard two crucial bits of news; Guy Ritchie was directing the movie and Robert Downey Jr. was playing Sherlock Holmes. My initial fears began to solidify at this point. Here was a director known for his London crime exploits and a Yankee playing a Brit! However as trailers and on-set pictures began to leak out, my mind began to convince me that this could be a joyous experience. Fortunately, I was not let down.

     Sherlock Holmes drops the audience right in the middle of the action. Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man) and his beleaguered colleague Dr. John Watson (Jude Law, the upcoming Repo Men) are hot on the trail of a nefarious killer. Armed with their wits and a band of policemen led by long-suffering Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan, Hancock), Holmes and Watson catch their quarry, but are led to believe that while the battle may be over, the war will continue to rage on. Having successfully cornered, captured, and incarcerated their foe, Holmes and Watson return to 211b Baker Street. The film then picks up three months after their capture of Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong, RocknRolla). The ritual killer is about to be hanged and Watson, leaving Holmes' company to be with his beloved Mary (Kelly Reilly), intends to see their last case to the end. However, when the hanged and presumed dead Blackwood turns up and begins to murder again, Watson is thrust back into one more case alongside Holmes. Along the way, they stumble across an old acquaintance. Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams, The Notebook) has outsmarted Holmes in the past and pops into his life again to receive help in finding a missing man. Once Holmes and Watson find the man in Blackwood's coffin, the two seemingly separate cases converge into one whose plot will have ramifications for the whole known world. Ah, but who is really helping who? Is someone pulling the strings? 


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The movie sprints to a wonderfully fun conclusion with a chunk of action and a bit of thinking required. The set pieces are very evocative of the Victorian London period, albeit the seedy, dirty side of it. The score by Hans Zimmer ranks as one of my favorite motion picture scores of all time. There is something whimsical, sinister, and eve modern about the arrangement. The costumes are also superb. I am sure you Steampunk kids out there will find some new and fun ideas here. However, the best thing about the movie is the actual characters. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law display such a perfect chemistry that I would be as easily at home talking about if they were the leads in a romantic comedy. This is what the literary Holmes and Watson were really like. Not the Odd Couple-esque groupings that we have had in the past. Holmes and Watson were similar in many ways, and each had their downsides to bring to the friendship. However, they took it in stride and became the best of chums. There has also been a lot made about the action and thuggish qualities of the main characters. Having been a reader of Arthur Conan Doyle for many years, I can say that I think this kept with the spirit of the stories just fine. The Sherlock Holmes stories always had a pulp feel to them, as if they were only one or two steps removed from the famous gumshoes of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler. I applaud the movie for embracing this structure and look forward to the inevitable sequel. 

     In closing, I would heartily recommend this movie to anyone who is either a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories or has never read one in their lives. The movie's blend of action, story, suspense, and critical thinking had me wanting to see it again as soon as possible. The actors were pitch-perfect in their roles, the script is tighter than a straight jacket, and the direction heralds a new chapter in the life of the world's most famous detective. Oh, and that sequel that simply has to come out? It's all due to a shadowy man whose face is never revealed, but is clearly behind the scenes setting up something monstrous. 

His name is Professor James Moriarty.