Tuesday, January 5, 2010
SHERLOCK HOLMES IS A TIMELY RIP ROARING MUST-SEE UPDATE!
By FRANCIS DASS
Directed by Guy Ritchie
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Robert Maillet, Geraldine James, Kelly Reilly, WIlliam Houston, Hans Matheson, James Fox, William Hope, Clive Russell
When watching Sherlock Holmes, remember that you are probably watching a film that will most probably win the Best Picture Oscar in 2010. That's because Sherlock Holmes has to be 2009's best movie so far. Heck, I would even say that it is the best movie to have come out in the last five years.
It is the kind of film that starts off as a curiosity as you wonder how differently can Holmes be portrayed other than wearing a deer stalker hat, wearing a tartany cloak and, possibly, smoking a pipe. The truth is, initially, anyway, Basil Rathbone's traditional portrayal of Holmes from ages ago still seems definitive and sticks in most people's mind. But then you quickly become enthralled by THIS reimagining of the Victorian Holmes as delivered by -- of all people (I was surprised to find out, anyway) -- Guy Ritchie!
The acting is smart, the script is sharp, the direction is aces and the soundtrack that chases each scene in the film is SO very funky that your sense of delight will be switched on throughout this most excellent film!
The film tells the tale of Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr) -- a character created by Scottish doctor-writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) -- solving the case of magic and mystery involving the sinister Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who is part of a delusional secret society which practices the black arts. Lord Blackwood, like all his fellow megalomaniac cinematic villains, has a keen eye on world domination and he uses trickery to manipulate the weak minded masses (you know, supposed sacrifical offerings, rising from the dead and the like) and comes very close to achieving his dastardly dreams.
Luckily for us, Holmes is on our side. The combination of our heroic detective's keen sense of observation and deduction AND the able assistance of his good friend Dr John Watson (Jude Law), overcome and foil Blackwood's plans, causing the latter to be apprehended and hanged.
But HANG on a minute indeed! As news of Blackwood's rising from the dead spreads and people fear his great powers, Holmes dives headlong into the secret world of research that Blackwood had commissioned and undoes (or rather, explains to the audience) the so-called magic as nothing more than science. If our beloved Gil Grissom from television's CSI had an English forefather, then you can bet that it would have been this particular Holmes!
A movie is nothing without good actors and what really makes Sherlock Holmes fly as a movie is Downey's performance. There's absolutely nothing down-ny about this superb actor's portrayal of the supersleuth. He carries this movie on his strong able shoulders with equal measures of a rascally disdain for propriety, manly callousness and machismo.
Downey's Holmes is very alert to the world he lives in and at the same time very bored with it. He thrives on challenges and lives for it. There's a recklessness to his character that could only come from Downey's real life drug-and-drink excesses. The actor is anything but a bore and he most definitely has character!
The witty lines are superbly delivered. Downey's expressions are also rich and priceless. Despite the films masterly use of stunts and special effects, if anyone deserves a Best Actor Oscar this year, it has to be Downey!
Jude Law, who is absolutely not leading man material at all as all his previous films have made obvious, is surprisingly effective as Holmes' good friend and confidante, Dr Watson. They share a believable bond of friendship and a fondness for one another. Their banter, willingness to protect one another and "addiction" to danger is infectious. Theirs is a friendship that promises to endure through many more sequels. (Hint: Moriarty is sinisterly introduced in this movie with a sequel in mind!)
Into this manly mix of things, we find two rather interesting women. There's the spunky Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) who is as wily, rascally and off-the-straight-and-narrow-path as Holmes, her lover, is. Their attraction towards one another is beguiling and the way they foil one another is delightful. At Dr Watson's side is Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly), who is a trustworthy and strong woman. The women match their men equally, in Ritchie's imagining of the Victorian universe. The characters appeal to our modern sensibilities of justice, right, wrong and equality are spot on.
Scattered throughout the film are also highly watchable characters like Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan). Everyone, it appears, is working with a certain level of intelligence.
As for Guy Ritchie. One can only say that it is good that he is rid of that trampy Madonna as a wife. It looks like this man-solo is revitalised as a director, as you can clearly see here. His direction in Sherlock Holmes is tight, the look sexy and the pacing riveting! His eye for details is nothing short of impeccable. Magic moments that everyone will remember surely must be Ritchie's cinematic reconstruction of how Holmes' mind works: the way in which Holmes works out his sequence of actions when confronted by a foe.
If Ritchie's earlier "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" (1998) and 2000's "Snatch" both seemed gimmicky and came across as trying-a-bit-too-hard to win him respect as a filmmaker, then, you can safely say that the man has indeed arrived as an ace director with Sherlock Holmes.
If there is one movie that you just simply have to see in this brand new year, then make it Sherlock Holmes. It will take your breath away in the most satisfying manner!