March Issue 2010
The Victorian Bad Boy
Hollywood’s latest attempt to turn a literary classic into a blockbuster, complete with massive explosions and a love twist, takes the form of the well-known private investigator Sherlock Holmes. The director, Guy Ritchie, went through the standard blockbuster checklist, a cast packed with Hollywood heartthrobs and starlets, a fight scene with a deadly explosion that threatens the life of one or more of the above mentioned heartthrobs, and a host of special effects that dozens of stooped-over special effects artists worked ‘round the clock to produce.
Despite all the clichÃ© elements in the movie, though,Sherlock Holmes managed to be the original Sherlock Holmes. Played by Robert Downey Jr, Holmes is portrayed in atypical fashion, as a cynical alcoholic. His clinginess to Watson (Jude Law) bordered on the ridiculous as his constant attempts to thwart Watson’s engagement were foiled. I don’t particularly remember Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved character as being so anti-social but that is what makes the film refreshing. Well, that and the absence of the worn-out phrase “elementary, my dear Watson.”
Holmes, along with a reluctant Watson, sets out to unearth the mystery beneath Lord Blackwood’s (Mark Strong) rise from the dead. The plot seems to take a supernatural turn but logic prevails, as is always the case with Holmes, and the truth, a conspiracy against parliament, is revealed. It seems that the writers of the screenplay couldn’t resist throwing a conspiracy into the mix, perhaps to sate the appetites of people who believe our world is run on conspiracies. Holmes’s love affair with Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), a con artist of the highest order, was made interesting by the feisty heroine who could seemingly hold her own against the infamous Holmes.
Perhaps the casting of one of Hollywood’s prominent bad boys was what the film needed to take shape because Downey’s portrayal of Holmes was quite brilliant, down to the dry tone he adopted while dishing out witticisms. The effects took the audience back to Victorian England, with its grey stone buildings and the overall gloominess that prevailed throughout the movie.
It was the special effects and the characters’ acting that set the movie apart from past attempts to reinvent the classic character. All in all, the movie is a must see for all fans of the legendary detective and, indeed, for all movie lovers in general.