Sunday, January 17, 2010

Quick Look: Sherlock Holmes (2009)


Someone has taken Sherlock Holmes and turned it into Pirates of the Caribbean, by which I mean the title character and his exploits have been run through the modern blockbuster system and turned into a jokey set-piece extravaganza. In this case, even though it’s not as good as some of the Pirates films, the results are not entirely a bad thing; it could have been much worse. Guy Ritchie’s blunt ham-fisted direction pounds the material into submission, but Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law (as Holmes and Watson) keep the movie feeling bouncy and agreeable with their funny chemistry and likable screen presences. Ritchie’s late-1800’s London is suitably grubby, the mystery’s just compelling enough, and while the supporting cast is underused, they are not underappreciated, especially the villainous turn by Mark Strong and the proto-femme-fatale vamping of Rachel McAdams. The set pieces scrape up some thrills and there’s some small amount of wit in their staging. This isn’t exactly the Holmes of the past, but the movie has no sworn duty to ensure the perfect enforcement of fidelity to the source material. This is a mostly enjoyable experience, a big-budget, slightly goofy, action-thriller-mystery driven forward, and kept afloat, by its cast, its production design, and the charmingly off-kilter score by Hans Zimmer that recalls The Third Man’s zither in its unexpected instrumentation.

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