I don’t really watch a lot of movies. I know, you don’t buy it. Especially not after Bad Movie October, which I keep promising you I’m never going to speak about again but can’t because it still haunts me, even now. I don’t know why. There’s always something I’d rather be doing than watching movies. Though, after obsessively watching about a million episodes of Dr. Who this weekend, I can’t imagine what that is.
But Thanksgiving is family time, and my mother wanted to watch Sherlock Holmes, which is apparently a movie that came out when I wasn’t paying attention. And after sitting through all 128 minutes of this film I feel like I need to say something about it, but… I can’t for the life of me figure out what.
Sherlock Holmes. Everyone knows of his amazing tales, originally penned by Lord Fatinthepants III, a gentleman’s gentleman. These stories usually involved Holmes running around England with his partner Watson, shouting phrases like “BRILLIANT” and “ELEMENTARY” and solving mysteries long before the advent of Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine. The way he did this was through opium. Lots and lots of opium.
Okay, yeah you caught me. I know nothing about Sherlock Holmes. Now that I think of it, it’s weird that I actually received a degree in English without having so much as picked up a single Sherlock Holmes adventure. And I may have used just a little bit of snark up there. Just a bit. Sherlock Holmes and Watson were created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and I know Holmes never actually said “Elementary, my dear Watson” during their adventures. The opium part still happened, I think. Some kind of drugs at least.
Anyway, this version of Sherlock Holmes is re-imagined for a new audience! Holmes, played by Robert Downey Jr. is a logical powerhouse who spends his time equally solving mysteries and kicking ass. Watson, played by Jude Law, acts as the straight man to Holmes’ shenanigans, and is often quick to put a damper on Holmes inventions and discoveries in favor of him acting like a damn human being for once in his life.
The film opens with Holmes and Watson hot on the tail of a murderer by the name of Lord Blackburn, who is performing some kind of black magic ritual that involves a poor young lady stabbing herself while in the throes of, I dunno, demons or something. The local police are outside but still mobilizing, so Holmes and Watson burst in ahead of the game, kick some ass and take some names. Blackburn is captured, the young lady lives, and all and all its a good day.
A few months later, Holmes is bored. This is a dangerous state for him to be in, since he’s hideously brilliant. With no new crimes to solve, Holmes locks himself away, isolating himself from everyone, Watson included, and makes new and incredible advancements in technology and medicine by experimenting on the dog.
Meanwhile, Blackwood is being a nuisance in prison by black magicking the hell out of the guards and inmates. After telling Holmes some cryptic bullshit, Blackwood is promptly hung, killed, and carted off to a tomb, from which he promptly escapes and begins a reign of terror. Holmes doesn’t believe a word of it. In his logical world, black magic has no place. So, off he goes with a reluctant Watson to solve the case, save some lives and kick some ass.
I don’t know what else to say about this movie, really. Downey does a good job as Holmes, and going through the crazily smart man’s thought process along with him is pretty fun to see. Though, Downey has a tendency to mumble, which means I have absolutely no idea what the hell he’s saying half the time. It detracts from Holmes’ brilliance somewhat.
As for the film itself? It’s… just there. It’s more of an action film than a psychological thriller or detective movie. There are explosions galore, large men with hammers and rampaging boats. There are shenanigans. Tons of shenanigans. But… it also was completely forgettable. The movie ended, the credits rolled, but I somehow felt cheated. There was never that moment where the plot just clicked. There was never a flash of brilliance. Never something I had never seen before. The plot twists seemed more bizarre than planned out. The deductions Holmes made are so abstract there was never any chance of us, as the audience, of solving it with him. The hints are there, sure, but the only way you could know what he’s talking about is if you had a passing knowledge of theoretical alternate universe science, which you don’t.
As a result, every time we learn more in the film, nothing changes. Blackwood is still a threat. He still needs to have his face punched. Oh well.
But the wordplay between Watson and Holmes is spot on. The bit we can hear, at least. Downey and Law work well together, and are probably the best part of the film, all things considered. I say probably because I honestly can’t remember anything else that might edge it out.
Sherlock Holmes is one of those films. If you’re a huge Holmes fan or are planning on seeing the sequel for some reason, you should definitely check it out. If not, well, share with my this constant feeling that there is definitely something you could be doing with your time that is better than watching this movie.
Then again, this film did well enough that a sequel is being made, so what do I really know about it? Maybe bizarre bland plots are your thing. I don’t know.