January 3, 2010

Holmes, Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes was our day-after-Christmas movie. It seems everyone's getting reinvented, from Batman, James Bond and now the famous literary detective. I didn't know Guy Ritchie directed it until the credits rolled, but looking back, it made sense. The camera work should have clued me in. I liked the scenes where Sherlock contemplates how he plans to maim his adversaries, and we see it in slow motion. I also loved the cinematography: late Victorian London at its grungy, drearily appealing best. Tower Bridge isn't even completed yet, and the movie's climax takes place in the unfinished structure.

Robert Downey, Jr.'s disheveled and skittish Holmes is joined by Jude Law's sophisticated yet rascally, gun-toting, sword-wielding Dr. Watson. The good doctor is about to move out of Baker Street as he is engaged to be married to Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly). It was amusing to see his roommate and crime-solving partner get so jealous. Lest we get any ideas about any homoerotic tension between the BFFs, an unconvincing Rachel McAdams joins the fun as his love interest. She is supposed to be a mysterious criminal and apparently the only person to outwit the sleuth.

The plot borders on the supernatural: Lord Blackwood (the always devilishly good Mark Strong) is accused of sorcery and after his execution, his deadly reach appears to extend from beyond the grave. Our superhero finds himself in a race to keep more people from being murdered, save his former lover Ms. Adler, Parliament and all of England. Professor Moriarty also gets thrown into the tale somewhere, setting up a possible sequel.

Murky plot aside, it was the friendship and chemistry between the two leads that kept me occupied. The proficient Mr. Downey Jr. once again proves he is one of our best actors. He gives us a disorganized, idiosyncratic but astute detective who's a bit of a bruiser. I may have enjoyed his fight scenes the most. Who knew? Sherlock Holmes the martial artist. Not a deerstalker hat, cape or pipe in sight here.

(photo from Comingsoon)

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