Sherlock Holmes

Date January 23, 2010 | Map

I remember a piece of homework back in school when we were tasked with completing a fragment of a Sherlock Holmes story, which was not familiar to any of us. In my version, I got so close to the real Doyle that neither my friend nor the teacher would believe that I had not read the book. But I hadn’t, I promise! I just asked myself the question “what would Sherlock do in this situation?” and answered with pure deduction as the master detective would have done. Pull out the magnifying glass.

Sherlock Holmes Movie Posters, by miss604 via flickr

Sherlock Holmes Movie Posters, by miss604 via flickr

Of course I had to watch Guy Ritchie‘s take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s immortal, er, no, legendary hero, and I did not even have to beg for company as usual: I was the one being asked this time. And so we went bang on in the middle of cinemaland to the big screen of the Empire Leicester Square. This was actually the first London cinema I have ever visited, which was back in 1994 and disappointlingly only in one of their 50-seaters. But no, tonight we were occupying two of the awkwardly rocking, soft but not overly comfortable front stall seats of the 1.3k capacity theatre.

Two things caught my attention in this cinema, none of which were too thrilling, though: firstly, the touch screen ticket machines were really useful, albeit slow in their reaction, and they reduced queueing time significantly. The queue for the one or two remaining human ticket sellers must have been about 30 minutes long. Pity that machines are now so effective and comfortable to use, as they will no doubt be responsible for cuts in staffing. Secondly, the Empire serves Costa coffee. It’s not really worth a commoncoffee article (chains are usually not very good at frothingm milk), but I thought a decent coffee at normal prices at a blatantly popcorn-overcharging cinema was a positive surprise.

Holmes, by Scott Monty via flickr

Holmes, by Scott Monty via flickr

So what about the film? Well, the not-too-positive reviews were largely correct. I should add that apart from Snatch, I am seriously underwhelmed by Guy Ritchie’s output and was quite concerned about him directing Sherlock Holmes. The storyline was not really in the spirit of Doyle, although that alone must not be an indicator for good or bad quality. I found the acting of Robert Downing Jr pretty good, but was less impressed by Jude Law. The runtime of a bit over two hours was too long: while the story was complex enough to warrant such length, I felt bored on occasion, because the drama curve was not quite flowing naturally, and at times climaxes appeared to compete with each other, leaving the viewer with some confusion and not enough guidance to distinguish the important from the unimportant. Probably there was just too much action.

However, the movie was good entertainment overall. It was especially interesting to figure out where in London some scenes were shot, such as the Temple in the opening scene as well as St Bartholomew the Great, or Brompton Cemetery, which was later relocated to somewhere between Clapham and Croydon. Many scenes were shot in Liverpool or Manchester, though. Soundtrack-wise, I must say I have greatest respect for Hans Zimmer and found the music skillfully composed and arranged, but the style is just not my cup of tea. As emotionally cold, rough and slightly dirtly as the visuals.

Finally, what I missed most was a focus on Sherlock’s deduction skills. Ritchie left no doubt that his Holmes was intelligent and able to deduce brilliantly, but mundane action overshadowed Sherlock’s core skills significantly, and when those skills were displayed, they felt a bit artificial, as if they were just mentioned as a historic reference or a special effect. In that respect, they were equally out of place as the numerous fighting scenes, explosions, etc. Holmes as an action hero – not sure if I want to agree with that. But there will no doubt be a sequel.

IMDb: Sherlock Holmes
Rotten Tomatoes Review

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