Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Sherlock Holmes, the 2009 movie

Having seen publicity pictures for the new "Sherlock Holmes" film,
starring Robert Downey, Jr., and Jude Law, we understood that this was
an "alternate world" where they are both "action heroes" in addition to
their other abilities, and accepted that for the fun of it. And it was

Holmes, as given us by Downey, director Guy Ritchie, and screenwriters
Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, and Simon Kinberg, is much more
of a man of action as well as ratiocination, capable of leaping out a
window at a moment's notice to pursue a lead, and a brawler at need when
he doesn't have time to calculate scientific fighting tactics. Law's
Watson carries and employs a sword cane as well as his trusty revolver,
and has a mean sleeper hold as well. They are well matched against the
machinations of the evil Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) who is a murderer
inspired by the occult and has sinister ideas in hand for the world. Add
in Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler representing unnamed third forces, and
you have the makings of a very good plot in the pulp-adventure vein.

The movie opens with Holmes and Watson "assisting" Inspector Lestrade
(Eddie Marstan) in apprehending Blackwood and putting an end to his
string of ritual murders. While waiting for Blackwood's appointment with
the hangman, Holmes and Watson's domestic arrangements begin to unravel
due to Watson's plans to marry Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly) and Holmes'
dangerous levels of boredom. When it is reported that Lord Blackwood,
whom Watson had pronounced dead, has climbed out of his grave and walked
away, the game is afoot again, and Watson is drawn back into helping his
friend-for now. The dialog given the frequently bickering roommates, is,
frankly, brilliant, with the kind of acerbic wit we all on occasion wish
we could exhibit. And, Watson holds his own with Holmes in the verbal
sparring, which I found very good.

Blackwood's plot is suitably fiendish, and requires only a little
stretching of science to be workable, although there are some
"Steampunk" tech elements. The movie is visually quite fine, with
wonderfully grubby and Dickensian landscapes in the area around
Pentonville Prison, the docklands, and the slaughterhouse, which
contrast nicely with the posh halls of government and privileged private
clubs where the other side of the action plays out. The women's costumes
in particular were beautiful, with the ladies in our group faunching
after both Adler's and Morstan's gowns. The men's costumes were more
utilitarian, although Holmes' typical outfit (with nary a Deerstalker,
Inverness, or any tweed in sight) would mark him as eccentric. The
risen Lord Blackwood was ominous in a long, black leather, high-collared
overcoat, which, when combined with his slim build and slicked-back
hair, made him reminiscent of both Dracula and Count Orlock.

Very nice performances by all principals, who are well supported by an
extensive cast of policemen, thugs, and lords. WWF wrestler Robert
Maillet, as the French giant, Dredger, bids fair to gain a lock on the
kinds of roles once the property of big men Ted Cassidy and Richard
The plot did contain a sequel hook although there were no firm plans for
one prior to the film's opening. The $65 million opening weekend, and
the fact that the cast are all reported to be willing to go around
again, make it very likely there will be one.
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