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.

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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 clich├ęd. 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. You know what I just now realized, upon further reflection … was that I actually had more trouble processing Downey’s fake English accent rather than the true ones. On the scale of complete and quick understanding of what was said, it would go like this (for me):

    Rachel’s character
    Jude’s character (and other English natives)
    RDJ’s character

    However, RDJ did seem to talk much FASTER than everyone else, so I’m not sure how much of my problem was with his speed, his fake accent, or both. *shrugs*

  2. I am certain that it’s the actual volume and the tamber of his voice. There’s a strange bit of fakery going on with his accent but that whole “talking into his chest” is what I’m talking about. I know it was to pull of the “new sound of Sherlock Holmes” but it’s probably one of the only few things I had an issue with. Glad others noticed and those of you that feel the same, chime in. Often times sound issues in a film never come to light and they need attention for sure.


  3. I watched this movie last night, and I have to say that I was thoroughly disappointed. I had such high hopes, and left feeling pretty ‘blah’.

    I was a big fan of Sherlock Holmes books when I was a kid. I was fascinated by the science of it all, and by Holmes’ logic.

    But the characters in this film, short of Robert Downy Jr, all fell flat in my opinion. The story was predictable, and the female lead was weak. The plot was sort of a prelude of what was to come for Holmes, and although I like Jude Law, I thought he was miscast in this role.

    Brutally disappointed.

  4. I also enjoyed it. I would give it probably 4/5. I had no problem with RDJ vocalizations. I thought the actor that played Blackwood was extremely menacing; he really nailed that role.

    They probably did show Moriarty’s face but the audience didn’t know it was Moriarty. I was wondering if the other black-haired guy with the vandyke was actually Moriarty.

  5. @John – when do you think they might have showed Moriarty?

  6. @Cyn
    Remember the man who praised Blackwood? He was also the man in the audience when…

    ****** SPOILERS AHEAD *******

    the plot got spoiled by Holmes, Watson and the McAdams character. He was surprised that the gas wasn’t released.

    ****** END SPOILER ******

  7. @John – are you talking about Lord Coward? If not, I’m having a total brain fart on the guy’s face.

  8. @Cyn
    I don’t remember his name but I do remember he was subservient to Blackwood.

  9. @sam

    ok thanks sam ill give it a go, saying that about jude a watched the holiday at work and sad to say i enjoyed it ha, oh dear lol

  10. Wow!!! Jude Law Really looks like The Riddler in this movie. Even in “The Road To Perdition” he did too. Nolan shouldn’t look to anybody else but Jude Law for that role. Oh,my bad uh, the Sherlock Holmes movie uh, yeah I’ll see it on DVD. I’m too psyched for Iron Man 2 right now.

  11. Mark Strong looks perfect for Mr.Sinister!!! Along with Vingh Rhames or Michael Clark Duncan for Apocalypse and that will be insanely baddass!!!

  12. Hey Vic, funny you mentioned Brad Pitt. I have yet to see what kind of dynamic we could get with him and Robert Downey Jr. sharing the screen together. Brad Pitt really does a phenomenal job with characters that are somewhat deranged though. Great combo with Brad and Edward Norton in “Fight Club”. Brad Pitt as “Captain America”,Robert Downey Jr as “Iron Man” Edward Norton as “Dr.Bruce Banner” and Samuel L. Jackson as “Nick Fury” would make an incredible Avengers movie!!!(if not i’ll settle for Ryan Mcpartlin as Cap any day).

  13. So even Vic says this is better than Avatar! And it so is, Holmes is amzing. If it wasnt for Star Trek, it would be number one movie of 2009.
    A sequel to this should be a lot of fun, providing they dont try to take the action away from London, the city was as much as character as Holmes and Watson.

  14. iv been an seen this film now,an is not bad but its only a film ill only see once and it was the longest 2 hours ever lol. ill give it a 4.5 out of 10

  15. I went to see this movie last night. I walked in with no expectations at all and I have to say that I was pleased with the movie. It is a deviation from the books in certain ways, but Guy Ritchie didn’t take a total turn around like most in Hollywood have with remakes and I have to say thank you for that. I didn’t find that Rachel McAdams part was strong from the beginning though, especially since we find that she is being led by Moriarty towards the end of her first scene. Anyone who has read the books knows that the character in the carriage is him. I didn’t find it predictable as most movies I have seen this past year though. Also to the movies credit is the soundtrack. All the elements came together, especially London itself and Jude Law, to create an excellent movie. Personally I don’t believe any of the actors fell flat on their face at all. There have been disapointments this past year but this movie was not one of them. Overall I would give the movie a 4.5 out of 5.

  16. I watched this movie on my birthday. 4.5 out of 5 stars is WAY too generous. Although it was an enjoyable film it was no where near 4.5 stars. The movie was more of a 3 stars for me. I was disappointed since I trust reviews and rating on screenrant. Guess it’s a first time for everything.

  17. Just got back from seeing Avatar – saw Sherlock Holmes on opening day and I have to say that I enjoyed SH far more than Avatar.

  18. I watched Holmes today and initially I was skeptical. Why did they make Sherlock more of a bum than an English gentleman that he is? Why was RDjr typecasting himself in such roles? But as the movie progressed I was bought over by Guy Ritchie’s tale and adaptation. The late introduction of Prof Moriarty (by name) is reminiscent of Joker in Batman Begins and whets your appetite for the sequel. I dont believe we saw his face in the movie. They haven’t cast the role yet methinks.

    Does anyone also think Mark Strong looks abit like Andy Garcia?

    But pls, RDjr should try and brush up his appearance and charm for the sequel. Let me assume Sherlock was coming out of a slump and would be more refined next time. Hey, does any one recall the Christopher Plummer version?

    I give the movie two thumbs up.

  19. @Cyn

    I also enjoyed Sherlock Holmes more than Avatar.


    Yes, I agree there’s a definite resemblance.


  20. @Vic – yeah, I remember you saying that. I posted my thoughts about Avatar in further detail on the other discussion thread.

  21. @Claude – yes, I remember the Christopher Plummer one … it was about a horse. I remember really liking it at the time. I even recorded the film on audio tape and listened to it while I was at work. LOL

    But now I couldn’t tell you all the specifics, except that IIRC, it was the horse who killed the man.

    Was that the only one Plummer did?

  22. Huge fan of the original stories right here and I must say that I’m impressed with Guy Ritchie’s adapatation. I don’t think that you can really compare this movie with the original because, obviously, Doyle is not there to direct.

    As for details, they were spot on. Most of the people who have never read the stories know nothing of his substance abuse and fighting skills (yes, he DID box you nitwits so stop flipping out) but I’m glad to see their return.

    The setting was very nice and their flat looked quite similar to the set of the two tv series. As for characters: that was the only place I found that needed mending. I agree with you on Irene’s character. She was a very strong and brilliant woman. Even though Doyle’s Holmes never showed quite the same attraction (he showed none actually, besides the way he addressed her with respect). Jude Law was a breath of fresh air in the old sycophantic side-kick. Once again, not Doyle, but at least it’s close.

    Sadly, I’ve seen terrible reviews where critics attempt to compare and contrast every detail with Doyle’s work and the movie ends up with only a star or two (obviously there needs to be a few action scenes or it’s only going to make money off of Sherlockians). Having read every story numerous times, I have to say that I’m quite pleased with this new take on the story.

  23. The best movie bar-none that i have seen in theater. His sense of logic is completely amazing. The sound-track is definitly my favorite part of the production.

    The only disapointing thought ive had about the movie,much like Iron Man, was the cliff-hanger ending. The last sentence that was said was, “The case is reopened…”

    Besides the ending, like ive said before, it was amazing, i cant wait to go see it again.

  24. @Cyn,
    Yes there was another Plummer Sherlock-”Murder by Decree”- were he confronted Jack the Ripper.

  25. Ah – interesting! Now I’ll have to see if I find it somewhere to watch.

  26. What movie did you see?

    The casting is horrible, there’s no chemistry between Downey and Law at all!! McAdams is too young. Mark Strong delivered a ridiculous perfomance. The action scenes are terrible, the humor is awful.

    Don’t believe the hype. Screen Rant, you disapointed me in this one.

  27. “What movie did you see?”

    Funny you would say that, because after reading the rest of your comments I was wondering what movie YOU saw. :-D

  28. I think JM is talking about Transformers 2. :D

  29. @JM

    If you didn’t enjoy it, that’s fine. I thought it was entertaining as hell and the poll I had up on the site indicated that 70% of those who voted gave it 8/10 or higher.