Sherlock Holmes Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated December 25th, 2009 at 9:33 pm,

Short version: If you want to finish 2009 with a fun, entertaining movie – go see Sherlock Holmes.

sherlock holmes review Sherlock Holmes Review
Screen Rant reviews Sherlock Holmes

I had high hopes going in to Sherlock Holmes, and I’m happy to report that director Guy Ritchie, composer Hans Zimmer, Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law came together to exceed my expectations. Now do keep in mind that I am not comparing this to the classic character as portrayed in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories – not being a fan of the genre, I read a Sherlock Holmes story once, a LONG time ago and have no memory of it.

Downey Jr, of course, plays Sherlock Holmes with Jude Law along as Dr. Watson. Rachel McAdams appears on the scene later on in the film as an ex-love interest of Holmes. As the film opens, it is apparant that Holmes and Watson work in concert with the local police, although there is some (friendly?) friction between Holmes and police inspector Lastrade (Eddie Marsan).

Right from the opening moments we get a feel for the energy level of the film and insight into the way Sherlock thinks and acts – the screenwriters (three of them) and Guy Ritchie came up with a kind of flash forward method where we see him map out what he is going to do (in this case, disable a guard) and then we see him follow through. Frankly, I was thankful for the flash forward which was step by step and in slow motion, because when the fight actually took place it was shot using those annoying close-in quick-cuts which made it very difficult to follow.

The target of Holmes and Watson is Lord Blackwood (played quite menacingly by Mark Strong), who has been murdering young women and is preparing to murder/sacrifice one in some apparantly satanic ritual at the start of the movie. He is stopped by our dynamic duo and just as they are finishing up the police arrive.

Blackwood is captured but even behind bars he is menacing, intimidating and full of confidence – despite the fact he is sentenced to hang, he assures Holmes that he will be resurrected and will kill again prior to bringing about great change in the world. Of course Holmes must piece together how Blackwood manages to come back to life and has to try to figure out what he is up to and stop him.

I don’t know how well this film would have worked were it not for Robert Downey Jr. in the role – but with him in it, we have in this movie one of the most interesting characters I’ve seen on screen since Brad Pitt played Tyler Durden in Fight Club. He was fascinating to watch with all his personality quirks and you could almost see the gears turning in his head when his deductive powers kicked into high gear. Downey plays the role as a tortured genius – he is just so much smarter than everyone else and so in tune with discerning the details of what is going on around him (to the point of distraction) that it makes him quite anti-social and reclusive. One of my favorite lines from the movie (by Holmes) was when he talked about “twisting facts to suit theories when one should twist theories to suit facts.” Reminded me of a little worldwide debate going on at the moment. icon smile Sherlock Holmes Review

robert downey jr sherlock holmes1 Sherlock Holmes Review

Jude Law filled out the Dr. Watson character with much more presence than just a sidekick. He was a full fledged character in his own right and while he didn’t take any guff from Holmes, his friendship and love of adventure kept drawing him back in (he was trying to extricate himself from the relationship in order to get engaged). Early in the film Rachel McAdams played the strong female lead – a match for Holmes’ ingenuity, but by the end of the film she was unfortunately relegated to the standard damsel in distress.

jude law sherlock holmes Sherlock Holmes Review

As to the villain, Mark Strong has a dark, eerie look about him that was perfect for the role – and it was interesting to see which way they would go with his character when it came to his powers over the “dark side.” (I was pleased with the direction they took, which made sense and fit in with the universe they created in the film.)

mark strong sherlock holmes Sherlock Holmes Review

Guy Ritchie did a great job of mixing humor and danger, and the choice to go with Hans Zimmer for the music was a winner – I absolutely loved the choices they made for the soundtrack… a lively and at times percussive mix that just highlighted the excitement.

While this film has its dark elements, I have to say it was a lot of fun overall… I had a smile on my face through most of the film – and for what it is: A fun action/adventure movie with humor, danger, a good story and great characters, it knocks it out of the park. The only reason I didn’t give it a full 5 star rating is because I was disappointed with how they handled Rachel McAdams’ character as the film went on. It would have been great if they had portrayed her as strong through the entire film instead of having her need rescuing towards the end. Frankly that was pretty clichéd. A fellow reviewer (Ed Douglas of Coming Soon) put it well when he said the film was a cross between Batman Begins and the first Pirates of the Caribbean. icon smile Sherlock Holmes Review

On a side note, I’m very curious how fans of the original stories will react to the film.

If you’re considering taking the kids to this, you might want to skip it if they’re under 10 or so due to the violence/deaths in the film which might be disturbing to them. Other than that, I highly recommend you go check out Sherlock Holmes.

If you want to discuss the film in detail, including plot spoilers, head on over to our Sherlock Holmes Spoiler Discussion.

And here’s a chance for you to be a movie rater – what did you think of Sherlock Holmes?

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Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5

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  1. “There is no chemistry between the two actors and characters. Holmes and Watson share a lot in common, in lethal weapon you have 2 completely different cops with opposite personalities. Is it hard to see that? This is a fact.

    This couple was more the “Harrison Ford-Josh Harnett” type. This is an opinion.”

    Actually – what you initially claimed as fact was that to compare the two was ridiculous. In reality, it is not a fact – it is your opinion. It is also your opinion that there was no chemistry between the two actors and characters, and that the two characters share a lot in common. Well, Holmes and Watson ARE detective (like the characters in Lethal Weapon), but you must have missed the distinctly opposite personalities of Holmes and Watson. Not unlike the characters in Lethal Weapon.

  2. Now i’ve seen the “somewhat Hitler-like” kofi telling us what were supposed to like, what were supposed to consider genius ,etc etc blah blah blah but this one to me is just an over-the-top funny version. To me Avatar was a “turn your brain off” type movie because you already know the plot/message before you even see the movie. So only thing left to apreciate is either how the story was told ( which still didn’t pull me in as much as i wanted it to and was still too similar to another movie) and the visuals (which without a doubt were awesome). The whole ” Colonialism is wrong when it violates the rights of another culture ” is a good message and if you and your family felt moved by it… More power to you but if i felt moved by the same message in other movies, cartoons, games,etc. Why is it that this one deserves more praise when i already got the message from the other mediums, versions,etc. Btw i am Dominican and we had the same colombus deal aswell so i do get the message… But you make it seem that through camerons eyes we’re seeing/hearing it for the first time.

  3. “what was “cerebral” about SH???”

    That it was much more cleverly written and delivered than the standard preaching and attempts to guilt trip by showing everyone how eeeevil the (white)/human/American military and/or corporations are.

    There was nothing ‘cerebral’ about Avatar – it was more about provoking emotion and anger.

  4. Okay… “Hitler-like” may be a tad bit too strong but just think of someone thats pretty much demanding/telling you what to like/dislike etc… Someone like that.

  5. @ Kofi

    I wouldn’t mind being a little more like Holmes. And I think you are using the films plot to justify a so called political message, a movie doesn’t have to have a message, you are really Reading too much into a movie. Avatar may have a message, that is what the audience chooses to take from it.

    Why can’t a movie just be a movie? It doesn’t stop it being enjoyable or clever.

  6. @JM

    LOL, even my wife and I don’t agree on EVERYTHING. 8)


  7. @Jago

    “Hitler-like” is way more than “a tad too strong” dude. I don’t want that kind of talk on the site. Your follow up is appreciated.


  8. @vic
    Yes thats why i retracted it as soon as i could (at work and busy but this is kind of interesting).

  9. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I go to the movies, I want to escape from reality for a while. Sherlock Holmes was just that, an escape from reality. Yes it did make me think through the movie, but I honestly didn’t find it all that predictable as I said in my earlier post. There have been more predictable story lines this past year, like Transformers 2. I just wonder when we will get past all this about the government doesn’t trust this one or that one and try to take over. The story line has been repeated over and over agin. When will it end? Plus the movie got started from the beginning and went on instead of taking forever like the Spider Man movies. If it does lead into a sequel, then I will definately go see it. Besides, I thought this was a thread for Sherlock Holmes.

  10. @Vic I thought the review was spot on.

  11. I guess I’ll give my two cents worth…I enjoyed both films a lot. “Avatar” had excellent visuals, but I also appreciated the story. It was NOT a “brain off” film. Yes, the story’s been done before, but its presentation was quite entertaining and (I think) worthwhile…BTW, though I would be hard-pressed to prove this (simply b/c I don’t have time OR knowledge of many film reference databases), my experiences have shown me that even the greatest movies borrow/copy/adapt/update/continue themes/concepts/plots/characters/climaxes/pro- &/or epilogues/hooks from other films or books or plays or poems/songs. Original? No. Worth the viewing? Very often, yes. Excuse the aside, but it applies to “Sherlock Holmes” too.
    “Avatar” tells a politically-charged story with an element of romance in a science-fictional setting…The visuals enhance the telling. “Sherlock Holmes” tells an “origin” of Holmes and Watson’s rivalry with Professor Moriarty while engaging the audience in a fun-filled romp through the genius (and practical lunacy) of Holmes’s deductive reasoning abilities. Neither movie is “brain off”, and both are entertaining in different and interesting ways. Neither is “the best movie ever”, but they both offer enjoyable film experiences…if you go for those sorts of things :)

  12. I’ve seen both movies too, I’d have to say I liked Sherlock better. Robert Downey Jr is a fantastic actor who really dominates every scene he’s in.

    Avatar was really “Dances with Wolves” in space. Visually spectacular it must be said, but it was really predictable from start to finish.

  13. I’d have to agree that Sherlock definitely beats the Na’vi! The only issue I had was the way RDJ and Jude Law talked. They tried to talk too fast and with fake British accents (or is Jude Law really British?) but sometimes they threw away lines because of it, and I found myself asking “What did they say?”, but other than that I loved it. It was much more intelligent than Avatar IMHO, but that’d obviously up for debate.

    I also enjoyed the score by Hans Zimmer. I actually bought one song from the soundtrack on iTunes last night haha yes I’m a bit of a nerd, but overall I’d say Sherlock Holmes was fantastic. I write reviews on my Facebook page and I gave it 4 1/2 stars out of a possible 5.

  14. @twistedburton

    I have met Jude Law that is actually how he speaks, more or less.
    Get the entire soundtrack, its amazing

  15. Isaw it last Saturday
    I really enjoyed it.
    I dont care if it is better then Avatar or not.
    What matters to me is that I had a good time.

  16. @DrSamBeckett
    Mind me asking where you met Jude Law? I’d love to meet someone as famous as him

  17. @twistedburton – I had the same problem understanding them … RDJ specifically. Jude Law is naturally British and he was not so hard to comprehend.

    @DrSam – my son loves, LOVES the music from the film. He’s been listening to clippits of it on YouTube. I think I’ll have to get it for him someday.

  18. See what I mean about Robert Downey Jr. He freakin steals the show. Whoever plays as Captain America on screen with him is in DEEP trouble. They’re going to have to put on the performance of their life to not get out performed by him. People keep saying it’s the director and the writing but this dudes excels even with crappy material. You can’t have Captain America being out performed by Iron Man it’ll make a really bad Cap. The Writing and Director isn’t everything, it’s the actor that truly gives great or bad material life.

  19. I just saw it an hour ago (FINALLY) and I loved it. A few moments were a little slow for me, but they were so few…overall I adored the film, the guys (of course Robert Downey, Jr., he’s brilliant) and Ritchie’s directing.

    I was impressed with Jude Law – I’m not a huge fan, but his work was great, he held his own. I loved it that it came back to deductions and Holmes’ brilliant mind.

    Great review.

  20. Elementary, my dear — as in, that's what Ritchie's spirited but superficial version of Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic detective ends up being.

  21. This one surprised me, I had a preconceived notion I'd hate it, but I actually enjoyed this movie. I liked the way he showed the assembly process of thought before he actually carries out the butt-kickings. This was way over the top for a Sherlock Holmes movie, but it came off well.
    (I dont understand the ratings here though (the voters' rankings). I figure 4 is just barely watchable. 5 is decent enough not to complain, I gave it a 6 which to me is enjoyable. I havent rated any movie a 10 yet.)

  22. The asinine hitler-like reference I saw below provokes a strong feeling here. It's tiring to see the uneducated make foolish remarks regarding the murder of millions.

  23. This one surprised me, I had a preconceived notion I'd hate it, but I actually enjoyed this movie. I liked the way he showed the assembly process of thought before he actually carries out the butt-kickings. This was way over the top for a Sherlock Holmes movie, but it came off well.
    (I dont understand the ratings here though (the voters' rankings). I figure 4 is just barely watchable. 5 is decent enough not to complain, I gave it a 6 which to me is enjoyable. I havent rated any movie a 10 yet.)

  24. The asinine hitler-like reference I saw below provokes a strong feeling here. It's tiring to see the uneducated make foolish remarks regarding the murder of millions.