Saturday, January 14, 2012
#267: Sherlock Holmes
It is a bit unfair to say so but to review the first Sherlock Holmes after the second is a bit like cuddling with your boner after the orgasm. Some might even say that such an indictment is harsh but that is a fact. So impressed I was with the second edition that I thought it was necessary for me to see the first one all over again. So the DVD was bought and the deed was done. And here are a few observations from the exercise.
Holmes is obviously shown as a master of many skills and Robert Downey Jr. does full justice to the character with his brawny avatar of Holmes. The wit is unmistakably Guy Ritchie's but the delivery by Downey is pretty much on the mark. His chemistry with his Man Friday, Dr. Watson played by Jude Law is a definite highlight but again it is this mood of 19th century London that is most impressive about the film. The horse carriages, the Tower bridge being built (an entire sequence in the DVD is focussed around this and makes for a fascinating viewing), the raw action sequences- all these set pieces have this mood, this uncanny old London mood that is seeped into the movie through its art direction and cinematography that takes the cake for me.
Mark Strong as the antagonist is a devious instrument employed by Ritchie to match Holmes' intelligence and the oneupmanship between the two makes for an interesting buildup. A disappointment however is the climax that is a very cliched 80s Bollywood style fight sequence that defies logic as much as gravity. Rachel McAdams has a substantial part that she does justice to. Another winner is a fabulous soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. Richie's Holmes is undeniably charming but quite different from his namesake as envisioned by Conan Doyle. For a few of my friends that distinction didn't work for them, for someone like me, it worked just fine. I guess its just a matter of choice. But leaving that aside, the film works like a classic thriller where the audience is keeping pace with the protagonist to solve the crime at hand.
The issue I have in reviewing Sherlock Holmes after the Game of Shadows is that I am comparing the two in reverse order. It makes the first installment look much smaller that it is. I remember when I saw Sherlock Holmes in theater in 2009, I was bowled over, thinking that it was perhaps as good a movie as any in that year. In retrospect after watching the Game of Shadows, I feel it pales significantly in comparison to the sequel. As a standalone though it is much better than your average Hollywood film and for that we owe Mr. Guy Ritchie a whole round of applause.