671 of 719 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to the Fundamentals
After reading the reviews from some of the critics I was surprised by how many of them talked disdainfully about this movie as a divergence from the source material. I'm assuming many of them were relying on the old Basil Rathbone movies to color their interpretation of Holmes. They seem to overlook the fact that in the actual novels and stories penned by Doyle Holmes was...
Published on January 10, 2010 by Jason A. Bengtson
91 of 123 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Downey's energy and intelligence makes this a better Holmes than I expected
This was not a film I was really looking forward to; I thought the trailer looked absolutely horrible, like a dumbed-down buddy-cop movie transplanted into the Victorian age - and I'm not at all a fan of director Guy Ritchie. So despite my appreciation for both Robert Downey Jr (Holmes) and Mark Strong (Lord Blackwood, the villain of the piece), I wasn't really sure...
Published on December 30, 2009 by Muzzlehatch
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671 of 719 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to the Fundamentals,
218 of 245 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your grandmama's Sherlock Holmes,
Robert Downey's Holmes is a brilliant brat. He borrows Watson's clothes without permission, insults Watson's fiance at their first meeting, and drives Mrs. Hudson to her wits' ends, but he's also a guy who knows his way around a boxing ring and the one you want on your side when facing doom in the form of Lord Blackwood, an executed murderer who resurfaces at the head of a black magic cult bent on world domination.
Jude Law's Watson is an understated sidekick to the flamboyant Holmes, but their relationship is more of a partnership than in typical Holmes/Watson duos. It's fun to watch the verbal sparring and exasperation which underlying affection makes sparkling rather than mean. The supporting cast is excellent, as well. The movie plays fair with the viewer. When Holmes explains how the crimes were carried out, we realize we saw the same clues at the same time he did. No deus ex machina here--it's all elementary.
This Sherlock Holmes is neither Jeremy Brett nor Basil Rathbone. Viewers who expect to settle into a predictable detective yarn will be disappointed. This Holmes is edgy, action packed and slightly uncomfortable, but more believable because of it. It's smart and atmospheric, and well worth seeing.
129 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly faithful adaptation,
The structure of the story itself could well be one of Doyle's original stories. It especially reminds me of "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," in which an apparently supernatural series of events turns out to have a logical explanation. This is what surprised me the most when I saw the movie for the first time: that it engaged Doyle's narrative strategies in film form. In fact, this engagement is incredibly detailed. For instance, the scenes early in the movie where Irene Adler visits Holmes at home exploit Doyle's typical doubleness: at first we get a strung-together series of events whose chain of cause and effect are unexplained. Then, later, we get a recap in which Holmes explains that chain in detail, supposedly to Watson but really to the viewing audience. This particular set of scenes is, I think, one of the most admirable in the movie. It works as an exploration of narrative (which was always Doyle's point anyway--see the numerous stories in which Holmes chides Watson for transcribing their "adventures" as, exactly, adventures, as opposed to scientific processes of reasoning), and it works so brilliantly because of the intelligence behind it. Even the soundtrack (by Hans Zimmer of Gladiator fame) underscores the narrative structure here: the first time the events are portrayed, they're given a particular musical theme, and when they're re-portrayed by Holmes they're given a theme that's the musical inverse of the original. It's an example of all the various elements of film-making coming together in a subtle and fascinating way to demonstrate a point.
This attention to detail, not to mention stylishness, is present in the entire movie. It has nary a narrative hole (with, I think, one slight exception, which I won't detail so as not to produce any plot spoilers) and its overall structure is admirable taut. In fact, the movie is littered with strikingly subtle details that remain unexplained (e.g. the recurrence of "V.R.", an abbreviation of "Victoria Regina," or "Queen Victoria") by Holmes's narrative explications--the sheer quantity of detail in the movie points to the fascination with, precisely, detail that fascinates Holmes. (To cite just one more example: when Watson hands a newspaper to Holmes early in the movie, it features an ad for "Fry's Chocolates," which was the family business that gave Roger Fry, one of the members of the Bloomsbury Group whose most famous member is Virgina Woolf, his fortune.)
The movie does take liberties with its source material, signally with the representation of Irene Adler. But it acknowledges that it's doing so in a number of clever, apparently offhand details. At one point, Watson notes that Adler has outsmarted Holmes "twice," which indicates that the movie is adding on to the canon of Holmes stories--in Doyle's corpus, Adler appears exactly once (in "A Scandal in Bohemia"), so Guy Ritchie openly acknowledges the extrapolations he's made in this movie. In short, the movie notes explicitly that it's an adaptation as part of its adaptation.
All of this works brilliantly because the actors are brilliant: Robert Downey Jr. displays his usual genius (shown in another recent action movie), Jude Law presents the kind of Watson that other adaptations have eschewed (an intelligent ladies' man quite in tune with Doyle's character), and Rachel McAdams represents Adler as a clever and daunting adversary, which is quite in keeping with Doyle's character. McAdams may be especially worth noting, as Adler is one of the most significant as well as mysterious characters in the Holmes universe--her character is probably the biggest departure from the original in the movie, and McAdams carries it well. The cinematography is stylish and the soundtrack is excellent and really catchy. There are a couple of faults--some obvious day-for-night shooting and some clear CG--but I'm willing to indulge these because of the movie's overall excellence.
Basically, this movie is exactly what Hollywood used to produce and what it wishes it could achieve now: an intelligent, entertaining, and subtle movie that invites some effort on the viewer's part but also entertains enormously.
I'm looking forward to the sequel!
169 of 196 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Sherlock Holmes" Blu-Ray Review,
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This review is from: Sherlock Holmes [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)First of all, as of this writing, Amazon still states that this item is a three disc set, but this is not the case. The DVD and digital copy are included on the same disc, while a second disc contains the Blu-Ray version. This isn't an issue, of course, just a small clarification. Speaking of which, I've seen a significant number of complaints regarding the inclusion of the DVD/digital copy in the Blu-Ray version, with many complaining that they want neither and it's needlessly driving the cost up.
A simple comparison of this item against other Blu-Rays on Amazon proves this title costs no more than any other new release, and the DVD/digital copy is actually a very nice bonus for those who buy the film early. I, for instance, plan to loan out the DVD to friends who don't own Blu-Ray players. The digital copy is nice, I suppose, but I've never been bored enough to want to watch a film on my iPod or laptop. Besides which, like all digital copies, it expires a year from now. I'm actually glad it's included on the same disc as the DVD, because all other digital copies included on a separate disc I've ended up tossing out.
Upon loading the Blu-Ray into the player three trailers will run. This is, of course, typical practice. The irritating part is that the disc will not allow the user to access the menu from the trailers, and the user is forced to manually fast-forward through each trailer. A minor complaint, to be sure, but irritating nonetheless. The film runs 02:08:24 and the Blu-Ray includes ten bonus features (the DVD doesn't contain a single special feature). The included audio tracks and subtitles are in English, French, and Spanish. The first eight features are all collected in the "Focus Points" section and consist of eight 3-5 minute featurettes exploring a specific facet of the film (there is a "Play All" function included). Most of the titles are rather self-explanatory, but here's a complete rundown of the featurettes:
1) "Drawbridges & Doilies: Designing a Late Victorian London" (5:00) - This feature highlights how the production designers suffused life into their vision of Victorian London with an acute attention to detail.
2) "Not a Deerstalker Cap in Sight" (4:15) - This feature explains how the filmmakers decided to take the Holmes character back to his roots in the original Arthur Conan Doyle tales and compare the Downey interpretation against past cinematic versions of Holmes.
3) "Ba-ritsu: A Tutorial" (3:58) - This feature explores how the filmmakers blended various real-life martial arts into the fictional version featured in the film, along with explaining how Holmes was a former fighter well-versed in martial arts in the original Doyle stories.
4) "Elementary English: Perfecting Sherlock's Accent" (4:04) - This feature explores how American Downey refined his English accent for the film. Director Guy Ritchie observes that he preferred an American because it gives the Holmes character an "international" flavor.
5) "The One That Got Away" (3:44) - This feature delves a bit into the psyche of Holmes, particularly his stance on love and his relationships with women.
6) "Powers of Observation & Deduction" (4:01) - This features Lionel Wigram (writer & producer of "Sherlock Holmes") explaining why he was attracted to the project, along with what makes Holmes such an enduringly fascinating character.
7) "The Sherlockians" (3:03) - The feature explores the diehard, borderline obsessive Holmes fans who organize annual meetings to discuss Doyle's life and works.
8) "Future Past" (3:08) - This feature highlights how, with the aid of both sets and modern technology, the filmmakers were able to recreate the glory and grime of Victorian London.
The ninth feature is included in the "Behind the Movie" section and is called "Sherlock Holmes Reinvented" (14:06) - This is a more involving feature which functions as an extension of the other featurettes. The filmmakers discuss why they felt attracted to the project and how they desired to stay true to the source material, as opposed to the cinematic versions of the past.
The most celebrated special feature here, prominently featured in the television ads, is the "Maximum Movie Mode". This is a sort of interactive film commentary with director Ritchie (running slightly longer than the film itself) that includes picture-in-picture still images, behind the scenes videos, cast and crew interviews, technical details of the film, and of course Ritchie's commentary. It's this sort of feature that truly makes a Blu-Ray special, aside from the enhanced high-definition image, of course. A typical film commentary simply has the director talking over the film, which can be informative but distracting. The "Maximum Movie Mode" is a much more entertaining commentary that even includes the option for user interactivity.
The content of the film itself is highly subjective, particularly with a character as famed and revered as Sherlock Holmes, and I don't feel particularly compelled to add my thoughts. As a Blu-Ray release, however, this title is every bit as impressive as it should be. I particularly appreciate how the special features didn't just shed light on the filmmaking process, but spent ample time discussing Doyle's stories, the various interpretations of the Holmes character, and the lasting legacy of it all. I'm proud to include this film in my collection. Five easy stars.
68 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Holmes sweet Holmes,
Where in all of the stories does it state that Holmes wears a deerstalker hat and walks around with a Calabash pipe? Sidney Paget, who illustrated the stories for The Strand magazine, interpreted the descriptions in the stories. That was his version of what Holmes might look like.
This new version is Guy Ritchie's interpretation and it is quite refreshing. In the stories, Holmes is a boxer, bare knuckle fighter, marksman, swordsman and an accomplished martial artist in addition to being brilliant at deduction and a master of disguise. There was only one woman whom Holmes was impressed by in his life -most of these qualities are portrayed in the new film so how is this "not faithful"? If anything, it is one of the most faithful movies to deal with Holmes that I have ever seen.
I will admit that for "classic" Holmes there is no better than Jeremy Brett in my humble opinion. His performance will never be matched. However, that is an entirely different interpretation of the character. I approached this new film with an open mind and was very pleasantly surprised.
Robert Downey Jr. is, in my opinion, a perfect fit for this role. His ability to reflect the intelligence, physical prowess and sardonic wit of Holmes was dead on. Jude law was exceptional as Dr. Watson. Not some bumbling, moronic sidekick of the past but a true companion possessing formidable skills of his own. Just as in the stories.
Downey and Law's performance was a pleasure to watch and they have great chemistry on screen. I was also very impressed by 19th century London. CGI has come a long way.
The main reason that I do not give this movie 5 stars is due to the plot itself which I will not go into here. (I don't like SPOILERS) I will just say that though we are most likely being set up for a sequel I felt the story could have had a little more meat on it's bones. Overall though, I thought it was extremely entertaining.
I still do not understand why there are so many saying that this new film is not faithful. Is it a word for word adaptation of the stories? No. The worst that could be said is that like Peter Jackson did with Lord of the Rings, Guy Ritchie has maintained the true "spirit" of the Holmes character -though I would say he has done much, much more.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Adventure,
What Downey was able to do was exaggerate the known Holmes' skills (from deductive and inductive intelligence, through the arts of combat to his eccentric quirkiness), but avoid exaggerating them so much as to make them unbelievable.
The rapport between Holmes and Watson is much more human and equal than the superior/inferior, genius/buffoon that is often portrayed.
Those without imagination and particularly purists who only treasure the Conan Doyle canon and avoid pastiches of all kinds will not take to this film, but for anyone who enjoys lively adventure with a personable cast, SHERLOCK HOLMES is a must see.
91 of 123 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Downey's energy and intelligence makes this a better Holmes than I expected,
So....going in with absolutely the lowest expectations possible, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. No, it wasn't a great movie, but I actually enjoyed myself for a good bit of the running time (which felt longer than it was, never a good sign at all but particularly in an action movie). This Holmes and Watson are an action-movie buddy duo, get that straight right away. You have to take it as a given that this won't bear too much relationship to Conan Doyle, and that the action is going to take precedence over any pretense of a meticulous or carefully worked-out plot. The film begins with our heroes busting up an occult ritual, saving a half-naked girl from villain Blackwood's sacrifice, and it rarely pauses for reflection in it's more than two hours.
The plot's not bad - though some of the dialogue is, and the joking references and bits lifted from the stories are usually poorly placed and awkward - I guess they're supposed to be manna for the serious fans, but they seem like cynical moves often. Essentially Holmes and Watson are about to break their partnership as Watson is about to get married, but Watson keeps getting drawn back to help Holmes in defeating the hanged but apparently still living Blackwood's plots which involve both ancient occult ceremonies and modern (too modern - the film verges on steampunk) weaponry. Some have complained about these basic plot elements, but Holmes confronted religion and the occult and dealt with plots against the government many times in the stories. It's the fast-action gloss on it all and the poor editing and crashing sound and overbearing music that really take one out of the 19th century, I think.
BUT...Downey and Jude Law (Dr. Watson) have an undeniable charisma, and there actually is a fair amount of deduction and detective work inserted in between the fighting and explosions. And sometimes within the action sequences, as we see Holmes more than once analyze how best to take down an opponent, scientifically and in slow motion - and then do it exactly as planned, in trademark Ritchie fast-mo. In fact it's the action sequences that are problematic, at least if you don't like Ritchie's fast-mo, fast-cutting style (thankfully not always in place and not as overdone here as in the other films I've seen). The moments of conversation, the humor, and the character interactions between the two Baker Street roommates, and between Holmes and ladyfriend Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) worked pretty well.
As to Downey in particular, as he is really the reason this project got off the ground and got a significant budget and marketing, well he's great. He's clearly doing his own thing - a physical, somewhat disreputable and ragged Holmes, which I think a case can be made for. Holmes famously knew and cared nothing for most things in the world that didn't impact his work, and I think that an unshaven, dishevelled and unwashed Holmes works ok. He's a man of action, but Downey always shows a penetrating, if somewhat tossed-off intellect. He speaks very rapidly, it's as if his speech is trying to keep up with his mind and sometimes he's quite hard to understand - though the excessively loud and FX-heavy sound mix is probably as much to blame as he is. The accent's OK I guess, but I'm not sure that matters a whole lot; as the film doesn't feel particularly Victorian why should it feel particularly British either?
So very much a mixed bag. Certainly if you're looking for a faithful "Sherlock Holmes", you won't get it (though truth be told, most previous incarnations aren't all that close to Conan Doyle either); Ritchie's direction is as uninteresting and hamfisted as ever to me - he can't even compose an interesting shot as Michael Bay at least manages once in a while. But the cast was for the most part solid and seemed to be enjoying themselves, and I had fun as long as I allowed my brain to idle. If it's far from the best of all cinematic Holmes, it's probably not the worst either, and watching one of the greatest English-language actors under 50 today do his thing was always a pleasure.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Adaptation,
This review is from: Sherlock Holmes [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)With pure curiosity I read the reviews with one star. I wondered how this movie would get just one star. My parents have been long fans of Sherlock Holmes so it is a character I grew up with. My Father was big in to the original Literary novels and my Mother loved the Jeremy Brett television version. I have seen that and the Basil Rathbone version and I loved this. The literary Character was troubled with a drug addiction and still was able to use such an amazing mind to figure out the most minute details. I feel that this movie gave a fair representation of the character even though there are several who will disagree. Robert Downey Jr's Sherlock is more into the drugs than Sir Conan Doyle's but it still leaves you in awe that a Character so blitzed out of his mind has the most impressive deductive reasoning.
The movie was in my opinion very well written and the Plot was one that pulls you in form the beginning and doesn't let go till the very end. The ending even left it open for a sequel that I can't wait for and I have heard nothing to the sort that they are even going to do a sequel. Some may disagree with this statement and to each his own, but I was happy to see a more literary Sherlock Holmes when I was expecting a more modern action hero from what the previews led on. That being said the fight scenes are a bit comical at times but a bit of light hearted humor is always welcome in such a serious setting. What interested me in these scenes was that you get to watch it play out in Holmes' head and he will voice over the reason for his choice of attacks. He even explains the duration of recovery time the attack will take.
To anyone who has enjoyed Sherlock Holmes I recommend this movie and to those who have not heard of the character or know little about him, this is a great opportunity to be introduced to some of the best Literature ever. If seeing this movie gets some one to pick up a book it has more that done its job.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Is Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes".,
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I had lent my viewpoint of the super sleuth from the portrayal of him by Basil Rathbone. Watching movie after movie of Sherlock and Watson over the years done in such a way, I had just taken for granted that this is the way our detective was written also. While studying, the movie really made me wonder; how was Doyle's original interpretation written? So I went in to crack the books a bit. I had formed an opinion based on a screen performance through time that isn't altogether correct.
Doyle's books bring to light a multi-layered Sherlock Holmes that would go into the future and not become anything stodgy limited to just one time period. He is actually an everyman, and one who is steeped in all the knowledge that Guy Ritchie introduced to the audience in this action packed film. I am sure many of us found the Sherlock that we thought we knew to be a polar opposite of the man we see here, although this is Doyle's man of Baker Street. Guy Ritchie did a brilliant job portraying his lead, Robert Downey Jr., as Holmes and gave Jude Law a new well rounded Watson for us all to see for the first time.
The movie itself hails the duo to be a new "reintroduced" vision and in part that is true. "Sherlock Holmes" brings to life Doyle's original writing of the books and is far more closely related to this screen adaptation, in my judgment, from studying. What an awesome surprise for me. Everyone who has read any of the books and/or only has seen the different screen adaptations, keeping those portrayals to reflect the scope of Holmes alone; you must do your imagination a huge favor and introduce Ritchie's everyman super sleuth to yourself again.
Sherlock Holmes is so faceted with tons of nuances shown here in this movie from the novels. He is so many things all rolled up in one man of action and completely cerebral throughout, a man of then and a man for now. He is steeped in many realms of thinking, as he is also just as much a defender of those truths. A bare knuckle fighter and well versed in the martial arts, Doyle wrote him extremely well rounded to be a thinking man of adventure.
Sherlock and Watson explode into this movie, using every trick in the books and show us a very real and exciting duo. Now that I know how these characters were originally written, I can clearly see that this is an important movie setting the standard back to the original.
I have already seen the second film and thought it far reaching because I didn't do my homework ahead of viewing it. Now I can hugely appreciate this movie as definitely I will watch my judgment of things without knowing the facts first. If you enjoyed this movie as I did, you're in for a real treat with viewing the second film. It is as if you are getting the same Holmes and Watson here plus adding so very much more.
Enjoy the first movie again, perhaps before viewing the second. It is worth a second look with a new perspective and refreshed open mind.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I expected more...but still a fun experience.,
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Sherlock Holmes (2010) [HD] by Guy Ritchie