Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cinema Review - Sherlock Holmes

"Never theorize before you have data. Invariably, you end up twisting facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

Sherlock Holmes, directed by Guy Ritchie, is a fun and engaging watch from start to finish. Not being a Holmes fan, or at least not having read any of the books, I had no idea what to expect going into the movie. When I came out however, I was thoroughly pleased with almost every aspect of the film. I'll liken it to Iron Man due to the sheer enjoyment of it, however it isn't on the same level as the enjoyment level drops significantly after a second viewing.

The plot of this film is what makes it so enjoyable. It may be because I'm not knowledgeable about Sherlock Holmes, or mystery stories in general, but I was left clueless as to how many of the feats in this movie were accomplished until our fine Detective Holmes informed us about them with his casual wit. On the subject of Holmes' character, Robert Downey Jr. plays the part brilliantly. From his ridiculously enigmatic manner, to his over the top theatrics in solving crime, Downey Jr. has the character down to a tee. The same can be said of Jude Law as Watson, the straight man to the jokes made by Holmes, playing everything in a realistic and normal manner. The pair work off each other brilliantly, and whether that's due to the script being so natural, or the talents of Downey and Law, I don't know, but it makes this movie extremely fun.

While the characters are stunningly real, the visuals are not. There are many shots that are glaringly fake, and while I know that they can't be done with models or whatnot, the effects company could have done things much, much better. That being said, there is a glorious explosion that plays out for a long period of time that almost redeems the visuals, however it's rendered in an extreme slow motions scene that suits some parts of the explosion, but feels far too dragged out for what it is. This slow-mo fetish that Ritchie seems to have going expands into almost all the action scenes, in particular any fight that Sherlock may be inclined to choose, excepting the final battle and a mid movie one. These slow-mo 'pre-battle plans' are a fresh take on fights, but the fact that they're followed up with the exact same footage at normal speed almost ruins some of them. There were some excellent places for solid cuts to black that would have added so much to the fight, but were left to run on and ruin the pace of the scene. Depth of field was used brilliantly and was much more noticeable than in many other movies I seem to pay attention to those sorts of things in. However, it wasn't used gratuitously and it suits the scenes when it is used. The camera work in general is of a very high quality that almost makes me watch to watch the film a third time just to purely watch how the camera works in the environment of the movie.

While the slow-mo and effects ruined some scenes, the music was the exact opposite. A mix of fiddle tune and classical orchestral music is used to brilliant effect to build atmosphere and suspense, but that's what you'd expect of any good score really. What you don't expect is how brilliantly the music is used to emphasise Holmes and his strange ability to be exceedingly eccentric. One particular scene that would normally have heavy, dramatic music is instead filled with an upbeat and eclectic fiddle tune that suits Holmes so well in the scene, but doesn't break the dramatic tension that's present in the scene. The heavy cello cues that were present in many of the songs also helped the visuals on more than one occasion, particularly in fight scenes and other dramatic moments.

This movie was a delight to watch for the first time, and an ok watch the second. Its rewatch-ability is pretty low since a lot of the enjoyment comes from not knowing what's causing what, or what will happen next, but there are still some very fun moments that had me enthralled the second time, even some jokes that still made me laugh although I knew they were coming. If you haven't seen it, you definitely should, and if you've already seen it, probably avoid it for a second time until about a year after it's come out on DVD, you should have forgotten most of it by then!

Plot 9/10
Visuals 7/10
Sound 9/10
Enjoyment 8/10
Overall 33/40
Grade B+

- Suspenseful and enigmatic, you won't know what's coming
- Great camera work and music to suit it
- Fun characters that will please you no end

- Only good for one viewing, after that it loses a lot of its charm
- CG is fairly obvious and intrudes on the movie at points


  1. This movie was a lot of fun. I think Robert Downey Jr. did an excellent job and was perfectly understandable. Great action, great acting and a pretty good storyline made for an enjoyable movie.

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  2. Pretty much. Robert Downy Jr. was probably the best thing in this movie. I'll definately be getting this once it's out on DVD.