Friday, 1 January 2010

Holmes.. Sherlock Holmes

Guy Ritchie brings Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional character into the 21st Century.

Seconds into Sherlock Holmes and the soundtrack is already set at a quick and shuddering pace, as we fly through the streets of 1891 London, following a raid on a proposed human sacrifice ritual. After 10 minutes, we get a sense of how Guy Ritchie is taking the Sherlock Holmes character and story into his own world, and that Holmes is a changed character from the novels in the late 1800s.

With Guy Ritchie's back catalogue of films including Revolver, RocknRolla, Mean Machine and Snatch, taking on a detective film that is so close to people's hearts wasn't going to be an easy feat. But like other updated franchises such as Batman and James Bond, Holmes has been updated to fit what the new audiences want to see. Sherlock Holmes is now a badass hero who is more James Bond than Detective. This would probably be a huge problem for hardcore Sherlock Holmes fans but it isn't a bad thing for people new to the story.

Ritchie's direction is improving a lot, and he manages to capture the essence of late 19th Century to perfection, although some action scenes seem very over the top. Everything else is captured perfectly, and the execution of Holmes working everything out through his detective skills works very well. Some scenes are breathtaking and really have you on the edge of your seat, and shows Ritchie is really coming forward as a director.

Robert Downey Jr. gives an emphatic performance, carrying on his hot streak of films, following Tropic Thunder, Iron Man 1 and 2 and The Incredible Hulk, after a tough start to the noughties. Jude Law also gives a polished performance as trusty sidekick Watson, but you cannot hide away a fantastic effort from Kelly Reilly as Mary Morstan, Watson's wife-to-be, who's onscreen time is nowhere near enough to satisfy. Despite the strong trio, Rachel McAdams role seems a tad miscast, but other roles make up for it.

Holmes is a good movie for the newbies, but hardcore fans may be disappointed at the total change in Holmes' character, who has changed from normal detective to kung-fu, action hero. The story itself seems too unbelievable (based on black magic) but it seems to work well. However, after a upbeat and impressive opening 30minutes, the film starts to drag and then comes to a unsatisfying ending. Also, important scenes seemed to have been cut from the trailer, and disappointingly for some, Rachel McAdams in a corset is nowhere to be seen in the final cut.

A great new Holmes, but will disappoint some. The acting is perfection but will have to wait for the next instalment to see if it will totally satisfy.

Rating: 7/10

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