Saturday, January 9, 2010

Review - Sherlock Holmes

Of the many holiday movies clambering for your dollars in December and January, one of the better ones to spend your money on is Sherlock Holmes, which has the distinct virtue of being the only Guy Ritchie film I have ever liked.

This pleasant surprise of a popcorn flic takes great delight in playing around with the conventions we would normally expect when we think of the name Sherlock Holmes. Not so suave and civilized as previous incarnations a la Basil Rathbone or Peter Cushing, Robert Downey Jr. plays the brilliant sleuth of Baker Street as a rather insensitive and childish chap. Simililar treatment is given to his trusty sidekick Watson (Jude Law), no longer a pushover second banana. Law's Watson has some bite and aggression, and the friendship he shares with Holmes is far from perfect. The tensions and bickerings of their relationship makes it all the more compelling, especially since the otherwise callow Sherlock is too proud to let on just how much he cares about his friend. Together, this entertaining duo set out to solve the mystery surrounding the seemingly immortal Lord Blackwood, who threatens the most powerful men in London with his insidious dark magic. The only misstep in casting this picture was Rachel McAdams, who tags along to help/complicate things for Holmes and Watson. Her presence is out of place.

My usual qualms with Guy Ritchie's films did not rear their ugly heads during this one. With the benefit of immaculately crafted sets and costumes, for once he allows his camera to move around and take in the sights, uninterrupted by obtrusive editing and jarring music. He does allow himself brief moments of his trademark editing style, but they are used sparingly and always with clever storytelling purpose. I suppose he realized that Sarah Greenwood's terrific production design of a smoggy industrial London provided more than enough grit. Hans Zimmer's music provides all the pulse-raising rhythms we would expect from him, but his score his most enjoyed for its cheeky use of instruments like the honky tonk and banjo.

Speaking of which, a nomination for Zimmer is possible, as are nods for Art Direction and Costume Design. All three would be deserved.

*** out of ****


Jean said...

Absolutely enjoyed the film. I think its Ritchie's best in years!

The Oscar Nazi said...