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?

[poll id="30"]

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. @Vic

    Did you check the transformers 2 poll?

    And yes i didn’t enjoy it, you enjoy it and i respect that, but this review doesn’t point the bad things in the movie, like the awful camera work in the action scenes and the super predictable plot.

  2. @JM

    To each his own. Camera work didn’t bother me – and if you want to talk super predictable plot, I give you: Avatar.


  3. Sherlock Holmes vs. Avatar:

    On had a “predictable plot” the other no plot at all.

    The hero solves the “mystery” in the first 1/3 of the film.

    You could cut the runtime of SH in half if you didn’t show every sequence TWICE (super annoying after the first time).

    THE PLOT OF SH MADE NO SENSE!!!! (So… Mystic order of guys who practice black magic for years (with no discernible effect) are tricked by guy who uses theatrics to fake magic??? Wouldn’t they know their hocus-pocus was B.S.???) And since Holmes figures it all out early on, what’s the point of the story after that – to trick the audience? Are we trying to solve the mystery without relying on Holmes, or… what?

    Weird quasi-romantic bromance.

    RDJ’s so-called “accent. ”

    Plotlines of a sequel taking up a sizable portion of first film (isn’t each movie in a franchise supposed to “stand alone” and be its own story???)

    Ridiculous set pieces (looked SO fake)

    Mediocre camera work…

    I’d give this film 2.5 stars – 3 AT BEST.

    I’ll never understand how people think SH is better – on any level – than Avatar…

    To each their own, I guess… :-P

  4. Finally: I can’t believe I’m reading so much support for this film HERE, where so many readers have (in the past) expressed disdain for Hollywood trying to inject political points into films.

    So what, are you guys just ignoring the obvious political undertones / msgs to SH? The whole metaphor about the manipulations of terrorism? Nothing to object to there?

  5. “I’ll never understand how people think SH is better – on any level – than Avatar…”

    By that same token, I’ll never understand how people think Avatar is pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread – or even better than SH.

    “To each their own, I guess… ”


  6. Five star movie in my opinion, loved every second. But you’re right Kofi, each to their own, if you didn’t like it then that’s a shame.
    I thought Avatar was over hyped nonsense.

  7. I guess I’m glad I wrote the review for this, then. :)

    BTW, it only dropped 38% in its second weekend which is generally a sign of a very good word of mouth.


  8. I’m glad you wrote it too Vic!

  9. Remember a very good word of mouth doesn’t mean a good movie.

  10. @JM – You have to realize that very good word of mouth DOES mean it’s considered a good movie by those who are spreading the good word of mouth … even if you don’t agree.

    Again, to each their own.

  11. I agree with Kofi on this one.

    And nobody notices Rachel McAdmas looks like SH’s daughter? She’s too young for the role. You can remove Watson from the movie without changing anything and nobody would notice it.

    And thanks for remind me the duplicated scenes. Damn it, they should film those parts with a different angle at least. Very annoying indeed.

    Like i’ve said 4.5 is too much for this flawed film.

  12. @Cyn

    Transformers had a very good word of mouth and it’s pure crap.

    What’s your next point? The box office? Give me a break….

  13. @JM – dude, it’s all about what people personally enjoy. You hated it – and that’s fine. Other people loved it and that’s fine too.

    Incidentally, I actually enjoyed Transformers. :-p

  14. “And nobody notices Rachel McAdmas looks like SH’s daughter? She’s too young for the role.”

    She doesn’t look like SH’s daughter. It’s not like there’s 20 years between them … LOL …

  15. Avatar has good word of mouth and it’s dull as ditchwater!

    Cyn. I hope you mean Transformers 1! Cos I liked it too.

  16. @JM

    Notice that nobody is defending the plot, or the political underpinnings or how those elements relate to their nay-saying arguments about Avatar.

    For SH, It’s just “I enjoyed it.”

    I guess everyone CAN just “turn their brains off” and enjoy a movie – if they have the biased motivation to do so. Because there is certainly no logical argument (that I’ve heard) for liking this film based on any cinematic merit. SH himself would not approve of that.

    I’ll leave it at that. Rant over :-) I’m done.

  17. @DrSam – yeah, I didn’t care for Avatar either, but obviously those who are spreading the word of mouth do!

    @Kofi – explain the political underpinnings that were so bothersome to you while you watched SH. As far as your snark about people turning their brains off in order to enjoy SH – quite the opposite. The movie required close attention to dialogue and events. It was not a mere popcorn flick.

  18. @ Kofi

    I’ll defend the plot, it was good fun and full of twists and turns, the story worked great for me. It was a fabulous introduction to a new take on a timeless character. The relationship between Holmes and Watson was similar to Riggs and Murtaugh in Lethal weapon, do you have any issue with that pairing?

    What the hell was there to enjoy about Avatar on a cerebral level? Absolutely nothing! It was a big budget action movie cliche from plot to characters.

    SH had a cool story, amazing acting, great action and a fun set up for a sequel that people will want to see.

    It wasnt a matter of just enjoyed it at all, I didnt switch my brain off at any point, I admire everything about a film that came with no expectations attached and has wowed most people.

    And if you cite Avatar making more money, take this into consideration, it costs nearly twice as much to see a 3D movie, even more so at IMAX.

    Holmes also had a great soundtrack, the look and feel of the film was genuine, the set pieces were fun, and as for there being any politics…Do you really think Guy Ritchie deliberately inserted some political undertones into his detective story? Ask him, I can picture his response.

    Stop trying to find reasons to hate SH, in fact, even bringing up politics in relation to SH is just desperate.

  19. @JM

    Yeesh, relax. How about a 69% positive rating at Or are you using some mysterious criteria not to be revealed (apart from your personal opinion)?


  20. Gotta say, Avatar is certainly a turn your brain off movie as well. No deep thought required there.



  21. Avatar is just a lot of purty images as far as I’m concerned. Nothing to totally draw me in or make me go ga-ga over. Certainly nothing I’m chomping at the bit to see again.

    @Vic – 69% on the T-meter – and with the regular folks (those of us in the RT Community), it’s way on up there at 86%.

  22. @Vic
    Check the TOP CRITICS section, is often much more accurate. It has an ugly 52%. And defending a 69% sounds a little too much.

    Compairing Holmes and Watson with Riggs and Murtaugh is ridiculous. That’s not my opinion, that’s a fact.

  23. “Compairing Holmes and Watson with Riggs and Murtaugh is ridiculous. That’s not my opinion, that’s a fact.”

    Do you know the difference between opinion and fact? What you stated above is clearly an opinion and can in no way be construed as a ‘fact’.

    “Check the TOP CRITICS section, is often much more accurate. It has an ugly 52%. And defending a 69% sounds a little too much.”

    Check out the RT COMMUNITY section – which is often an accurate representation of how normal people (not just pointy-heated ‘critics’) feel about the film. It has an impressive 86%.

  24. LOL – just noticed my typo … I meant to say ‘pointy-headed critics’

  25. @JM

    Why is it ridiculous?

    i was comparing the buddy action movie dynamic, and I think in my opinion it is more than justifiable to do so, but i forget you deal in facts. Although I always thought facts were something that you could prove, while I made what many might consider a fair comparison in the circumstances and that is surely open to interpretation by you or anyone else, you have now claimed your opinion to be that of a fact.

    Prove it.

  26. 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.

  27. @JM

    Ugh, there was plenty of chemistry between RDJ and Jude Law. You don’t like the movie, fine, we get it.


  28. You like it. I get it too. That’s my final comment in this discussion. I’m looking forward for your next review because this one is contradictory with your other ones.

  29. First of all,

    I think a lot of people are totally writing off the vast number of those people who found significant meaning in Avatar’s story.

    How about people who understand what the Na’vi were going through – who have had their beliefs and world views discounted and even trampled by greedy, imperial people and/or cultures?

    (And don’t start with the “it supports the terrorists” beef. That is just stupid.)

    My parents are a good example – older African Americans who lived through the Civil Rights Era – both are PHD-holding academics and yet they found a lot to relate to in the symbolism and meaning of the film. I had to calm them down afterward!

    Avatar has a direct message: Colonialism is wrong when it violates the rights of another culture. What is so “dumb” about that? The only problem with the story is that we never get to see the EXACT MOMENT when Jake begins to “see” like the Na’vi. It’s a montage of his training, he “clean kills” a beast and then he’s “ready” for the banshee flight. So Cameron did indeed miss the opportunity to really teach something there. Other than that, I found it to be a solid story worth telling. It’s just that “civilized” people rarely like to hear that the brutality done to indigenous peoples in the name of “progress” was (and is) wrong.

    @ Beckett – what was “cerebral” about SH??? That a bunch of chemicals and plants nobody has ever heard of can help a guy living in ye olde England simulate his own death?

    The movie plays with the notion of the supernatural the whole time – but there are no bread crumbs for you to piece together as a viewer. The film is lazy, and uses cheap tricks and cinematic manipulation at every turn – perfect example, the slaughterhouse scene where Lord Blackwood moves like a wraith, whispering to Holmes from between the planks of wood in the wall before Holmes tries to shoot him. So… He’s not dead, but he moves like a ghost because of some special effects?

    And you obviously “turned your brain off” to the political message: people are easily swayed by their fear of the unknown or mysterious. THat’s Blackwood’s whole plan! Fake his death, “return” and then people would be so scared of him he could fake his way into power… yeah REAL cerebral.

    The film’s msg is that it takes a logical mind like Sherlock Holmes to stay calm in the face of terror and that…what…we should be more like him? Eccentric geniuses?

    That’s some real great brain food right there… for sure…

    SH has plotholes you could drive a freaking TRUCK THROUGH.