Downey Does Rathbone in Remake of Doyle Classic Tale
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a kazillion times, the book was better. But in the case of this incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, we can’t compare the movie to any of the 4 novels or 56 short stories based on the beloved character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, because director Guy Ritchie relied on an original screenplay collaborated upon by five different scriptwriters. The action-oriented production represents a significant departure not only from the original source material, but from the series of 14 screen classics featuring Basil Rathbone between 1939 and 1946.
Apparently Ritchie could care less about remaining faithful to Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) and his sidekick, Dr. Watson (Jude Law) in terms of appearance and demeanor. For the pair’s personas bear precious little resemblance to what fans of the franchise might expect. In fact, this Holmes is more of a macho, butt-kicking superhero than a cerebral sleuth who leads with his grey matter.
That disclaimer out of the way, however, there is much to recommend about this adventure, especially for the attention-deficit generation weaned on the cattle-prod of incessant electronic stimulation. The supernatural storyline unfolds in London in 1891 where Holmes finds himself having to track down serial killer Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) for a second time. Despite having been brought to justice, executed and buried, the slippery patrician somehow cheated death, rose from the grave and escaped to resume his sadistic spree.
Since they neither behave nor look like Holmes and Dr. Watson, the heroes could just as easily have been named Batman and Robin or The Lone Ranger and Tonto. In any case, director Ritchie, whose career had been in a bit of a decline since casting his ex-wife, Madonna, in the remake of Swept Away, has ostensibly reversed that trend with this rollicking, rough-edged affair on the order of the best of his work ala Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking barrels.
So forget pithy sayings such as, “Elementary, my dear Watson,” the new and improved Sherlock Holmes is more inclined to gloat as he doles out damage, spitting out lines like, “Weaken right jaw. Then fracture. Break cracked ribs. Heel kick to diaphragm.” Downey assumes the mantle!
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for intense violence, startling images and one suggestive scene.
Running time: 128 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Extras: “Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented” featurette and a theatrical trailer.
To order a copy of Sherlock Holmes on DVD, visit: B001OQCV6A
To see a trailer for Sherlock Holmes, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITU27Sxzi9w