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Heather's Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes

Updated on January 1, 2020
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Heather has a Bachelor's Degree in English from Moravian College and has been freelance writing for more than 14 years.

Sherlock Holmes movie poster
Sherlock Holmes movie poster

When it was first revealed that director Guy Ritchie was planning to revitalize the legendary private eye, many were skeptical about whether the idea would be a success or a flop. The theatrical release of Sherlock Holmes proved it was the former rather than the latter.

The story began with the infamously reckless Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his steadfast partner Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) in the thick of their latest case. This dangerous assignment had both men battling an unknown serial killer immersed in the black arts. At the end of the showdown, the villain was revealed as Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong). Once Blackwood was arrested and later executed, Watson reiterated to a petulant Holmes that this was his last case. Of course, Holmes can’t accept the fact that Watson was moving out and retiring their partnership for marriage with Mary (Kelly Reilly) a mousy governess he goes out of his way to treat badly.

Fortunately, things seemed to look up for Holmes personally when his old flame/criminal nemesis Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) returned to London to challenge his private eye skills. Irene toyed with Holmes and insisted that she needed his help finding a missing man. What he didn’t know was that someone was pulling her strings. Much to the dismay of Holmes, his last case was suddenly reopened with a wild rumor that Lord Blackwood was still alive. The wild rumor was more than that when Blackwood’s coffin was opened with the body of Irene’s missing man. Mayhem continued as Holmes and Watson were lured back to solving the once closed case where new dangers were revealed. How did Lord Blackwood survive his execution and what was his plan? Holmes and Watson intended to find out before he drove all of England into a mass panic. All the while, they had to determine what Irene’s involvement was in this mess.

Well, one thing was for certain about the conclusion of the plot because rumors of a sequel appeared to be highly likely. There was even talk of Brad Pitt making an appearance in the next installment. Hopefully, the sequel will have a subplot that doesn’t stretch too much credibility, such as Blackwood’s obsession with the supernatural. It defied too much logic and occasionally took away from the actual story of the bromance between Holmes and Watson. As far as reimagined films go, Sherlock Holmes shook the cobwebs left behind its cinematic predecessors and actually stuck closer to the source material. The idea of the intellectual Holmes fighting was hard to believe, but Ritchie made both skills go hand-in-hand in order for Holmes to function intellectually as well.

As the title character, Downey continued his career lucky streak where Iron Man and Tropic Thunder left off last year. In Downey’s hands, Holmes became an intellectual man bored with routine and needed to get into scrapes to keep things interesting. Holmes’ societal polish was replaced with an unkempt nature of a man-child. Downey used this childlike nature to push Holmes professionally and personally as he dealt with the loss of his only constant companion: Watson. Without Watson, Holmes couldn’t function in society. Hopefully, Downey will be able to showcase more than Holmes’ childish petulance in any sequels.

In terms of support, Law and McAdams provide comic relief and balance to some Holmes’ crazier mystery solving antics. Law was the Sundance Kid to Downey’s Butch Cassidy. Their rapport was natural and made it seem like the two actors were friends off camera. Law did his best scenes with a simple look, even if it was one of exasperation at Holmes. McAdams, on the other hand, was designed to Holmes’ female counterpart down to the pantsuits she wore on occasion. She obviously had fun playing the femme fatale, but she needed more to do than prance around messing with Downey. Maybe the next movie will give her more of a central role.

Sherlock Holmes was released on December 25th. Check your local listings for theatres and times.

Movie Score: 4 out of 5

Movie Rating: PG-13


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