Sherlock Holmes is a visually stylish rush of adrenaline. Irreverent and yet true to the spirit, this movie is both fun and numb, enjoyable and exhausting.
With a modern slant, this Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character personified in the big screen by Robert Downey, Jr. may find favor from audiences eager to see mere action and effects above everything else. While flawed, it is at least, an entertaining romp overall. Thanks to the arresting sound and visuals, this new take on the classic story of the world-famous detective is such a popcorn flick.
This film adaptation retains the spirit and a number of significant details from the original source material; though the purists may cringe with some altered elements to keep up with director Guy Ritchie’s modern-style reimagining of the legendary sleuth’s adventures. Now, those willing to accept the clichés and predictability in exchange for the stylish treatment may have some good time then.
The story is simply another in a long line of interpretations of the Detective Holmes and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) stories. This time, it is then turned into a swashbuckling romp, with the tried-and-tested pop culture flourishes meant for those looking for action and thrill on their movie picks. The obvious millions pumped into the film’s CGI effects, set design, star salaries, among other investments on production value, are very much apparent in the film.
Sherlock Holmes is more adrenaline than brainpower. Ritchie’s version of old London is moody and atmospheric. He brings the iconic character to a new generation of viewers and uses a modernized makeover through slow and fast motion visuals, choppy editing, and ramping explosion scenes. Sometimes they work, sometimes they just don’t. There are times that things just get too much that there is no more breathing space with what is continuously provided on screen. There are moments of action-pleasure, there are moments of frenzied and overlong smother.
Aside from its complete predictability, the mystery itself lacks intrigue and suspense that it merely depends on technical power and star wattage to make the excitement for the film palpable to the general audience. So despite being overlong and losing much of its steam halfway through, the film still engages between the cerebral character requirements and the spectacle of popular entertainment.
Downey and Law as the Holmes-and-Watson-duo are considerably good enough to make up for the weak mystery. They seem to take much pleasure in portraying their roles. Downey’s inherent likeability is as quick-witted as the twists and opportunities that show off his character’s genius. His interpretation of the Holmes character does not completely deviate from the Doyle canon. With his uncanny skill in inventing his own unique spin to his role, he puts a brainy, brawny detective meant to be the story’s slightly crazed superhero. He plays the brainiac detective like a steamed machine. Law transforms Holmes’ stalwart partner, Dr. Watson, from the bumbling comic relief of most interpretations, to a cool, competent sidekick character for this film. He is a rare Watson who manages to be as interesting and watchable as Holmes. Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler manages to tweak Holmes’ classic adversary into a hot and feisty action heroine.
Cunning star power uplifts this flick indeed as supporting and minor characters including Mark Strong as Lord Blackwood, Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lestrade, Geraldine James as Mrs. Hudson, Kelly Reilly as Mary Morstan, and William Houston as Constable Clark make this movie offer a rollicking adventure inside the cunning world of Holmes.
As a diverting enough night out stint or DVD/Blu-ray showcase, it is watchable and playable; however, it’s still forgettable. It’s actually a case of more adding up to less. Hopefully, the inevitable sequel will be better.