a critiQal film review Sherlock Holmes (2009)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: When a string of brutal murders terrorizes London, it doesn't take long for legendary detective Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.) and his crime-solving partner, Dr. Watson (Law), to find the killer, Lord Blackwood (Strong). A devotee of the dark arts, Blackwood has a bigger scheme in mind, and his execution plays right into his plans. The game is afoot when Blackwood seems to rise from the grave, plunging Holmes and Watson into the world of the occult and strange technologies.

531 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 39s)

Taking a break from some intense job-seeking here in our new place in Maryland, we decided to check in to what our local Blockbuster® had in store for us these days…and stumbled across a film we had wanted to see in theaters this past Christmas, but just never got around to checking out – Sherlock Holmes.

With a cast that included Robert Downey Jr. (still riding high from Iron Man (2008)) and Jude Law as the memorable pair of Holmes and Dr. Watson, it seemed like something we just couldn’t miss. So, would we be upset we’d miss seeing it in theaters? Or would we discover Robert Downey Jr.’s comeback is only valid when he’s got some shiny armor and fancy gizmos to play around with?

Thankfully, Downey Jr. leaps into the role of Sherlock, playing him with a fun flair that made his Tony Stark so appealing. While the characters themselves are rather different, he’s able to bring out their humorous sides without taking anything away from their other characteristics – in fact, the humor he brings makes the characters more three-dimensional than ever. Cliched as it might sound, Robert plays Sherlock Holmes brilliantly.

Jude Law also easily slips into the role of Dr. Watson – albeit a weight-loss program success-story version viewers have never seen before. As the new Jenny Craig-esque Watson, Law still manages to convey the strong bond between these two. True, the admiration so often proclaimed in the stories has been replaced by a more protective air, and a hint of exasperation at Holmes’ inability to grasp the separation Watson seems to so desperately need. These two conflicting emotions, which both pull Watson away and draw him back into Holmes’ presence, really add a sense of realism to the story.

And realism is what seems to be needed in great supply, as the story centers around black magic and secret orders. As the viewer is attracted by the flashier effects, the storyline and the intriguing characters – many of whom will be familiar to avid Holmes’ readers – will have drawn the viewer in, so by the time the flashy effects have faded, the viewer finds themselves thoroughly engrossed in the outcome of the film. Is this new version of the famous detective fighting off sorcery and black magic, or is there more to discover? Only time will tell, and viewers will find themselves eagerly sticking around to the very end.

With some truly memorable performances by Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law – not to mention a decent appearance by Rachel McAdams and a slowly twisting storyline designed to ensnare viewers – this new Sherlock Holmes seems to have it all. Not even a weak villain (Strong) can derail this one, as the villain isn’t actually on-screen much of the time, and the film, thankfully, instead spends most of it’s time following Holmes and Watson as they trace the clues to the grand finale.

If you’re a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories – or if you’ve only heard about his famous detective – then you should enjoy this updated version too. I sure did, and I am looking forward to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)!

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