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Sherlock Holmes (2009 movie)

A 2009 film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional character of the same name

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be amused...

  • Dec 30, 2009
  • by
 ... while spinning in his urn, most likely. Robert Downey Jr once again proves himself to be the best actor of his generation and without him this movie would limp along, and its inconsequential paper-thin plot would be much more grating. Perhaps the biggest crime in the film is that Holmes - as a 2-dimensional vehicle for awesomely-intriguing detective tricks - is given a really lousy case that relies on some massive leaps of logic and an almost physic predictive ability.

I still enjoyed the movie, mainly because of RD Jr, but there were some real weaknesses, such as...
  1. Rachel McAdams, who has zero charisma for the role. Bad casting.
  2. The overbearing music, which I must have noticed a half dozen times.
  3. The drab direction - great sets, CGI and costumes covered with lackluster camera moves.
  4. Terrible geography - yeah, I grew up in London so I'm biased, but running up the stars of the House of Commons doesn't lead to the Tower of London.
  5. Coincidence: overall, the way in which the black magic is explained is pretty weak - I was hoping for a little more realism that the voodoo-meets-technobabble that the audience is given. The guy who bursts into flames - due to an odorless flammable liquid sprayed into the courtyard like rain - well, wow, that was a huge example of lazy writing. 
  6. Varying Holmes' fighting capabilities - in one scene, he practically kills a guy in two seconds; in others he struggles for no reason other than to drag out the sequence.
  7. A brutally predictable plot.
  8. A confused bad-guy agenda that could have been lifted from Pinky and the Brain (step 1: take over the world).
  9. An unbelievable femme fatale subplot.
  10. Postponing an answer to a major story question until the sequel.
Given a character so ripe for a complex crime caper, they took the easy route and spoon fed the audience with a routine we've seen a thousand times before. But the Fighting Holmes works relatively well, his deductive approach is fun to watch, and the art department did a great job in creating Doyle's London. Mindless and fun entertainment - but die-hard Sherlock fans are not going to be happy.

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January 30, 2010
I'd been looking forward to this one so much, although it was hard for me to envison Downey as Holmes I've always liked him and was interested in seeing how he would pull it off. And then I saw the previews. And read the reviews. Oh well. I guess I'll wait for NetFlix. I like the way you laid out your review on this one.
January 31, 2010
Thanks - I'm a fan of the 10-bullet point approach (though somehow I hit 11). I think this will be good value on Netflix.
January 31, 2010
I do too. Very helpful!
January 05, 2010
I'm a HUGE Holmes and RD Jr. fan. But as soon as I saw the previews I had decided I'd wait for the rental to come out. Your review confirms my decision, thanks.
January 05, 2010
I was going to watch this one but decided on Young Victoria instead. I think I will wait for the video.
December 30, 2009
Very accurate! Thanks James for recording this one....
December 30, 2009
way to break it down! short sweet and to the point.
December 30, 2009
Thank you Sir - preferred your review though, since you pretty much got all the detail down perfectly!
December 30, 2009
Haha, way to break it down, James!  I'm surprised by your assessment of Rachel McAdams though, because I've loved her in everything else!  #4 is hilarious, it's like that one TV special that Rachel Ray hosted about Berkeley eateries where she said something like, "and then from 4th St, you can just take a stroll to Shattuck".  Um... that's at least a two hour stroll.  If I ever watch this, it'll probably be on DVD or TV.
December 30, 2009
Rachel McAdams just doesn't fit this role - I've seen her in other things and not thought she's bad at all. #4 is pretty bad coming from a British director! :-D
January 05, 2010
True that on #4. Pretty bad coming from anyone, but especially for a native. You'd think they'd do more research and somehow figure that distance into the script or something. By the way, did you notice that a couple of your reviews were mentioned in @jrjohnson's newsletter yesterday? Awesomeness! :D
January 09, 2010
I did! My 15 minutes of fame is coming (let's hope it's not been eek'ed away 5 seconds at a time so far!).
December 30, 2009
I like the way you listed the negatives of the film in a manner that was easy to read. I'm also glad that you listed a few positive aspects of the film as well. Thanks for the review.
December 30, 2009
Thanks! It was fun but let's hope they juice up the inevitable sequel...
December 30, 2009
You're welcome. Yes, no doubt it will spawn a sequel. I assume the people behind the film will want to squeeze every penny poosible out of Sherlock Holmes (and Robert Downey, Jr.) fans :)
December 30, 2009
The movie industry pattern is following the book industry - sequels and existing talent eventually become 95% of production.... scary. Avatar was greenlit on a sequel within 3 days of $$$.
December 30, 2009
Yeah, I read somewhere that James Cameron had the sequels planned already but wasn't going to pursue them unless this first Avatar film did well. It's unfortunate, but hopefully those sequels will be good.
December 30, 2009
What they didn't mention is that 75% of the models/CG work will be carried forward, so sequels wouldn't be much more profitable. Of course, that's if Cameron just does the same thing all over... which is unlikely given his track record!
December 30, 2009
I see. Yes, that is unlikely.
More Sherlock Holmes (2009 movie) reviews
review by . December 13, 2010
Lord Blackwood, serial killer and black occultist, has finally been brought to justice. Returning from the grave only gives more weight to his already potent reputation, as well as his ominous predictions of what is to yet to come. Yet, Sherlock Holmes seems too preoccupied with the imminent loss of his life-long bachelor friend and valued assistant, Dr. Watson, to act effectively against Blackwood's schemes.      Love seems to be the only thing to truly confound and successfully …
review by . August 17, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes" stylistically reverses the intentions that we are to expect from both cinematic and non-cinematic outings starring everyone's favorite titular sleuth. While we're used to an intelligent, perplexing labyrinth of a mystery; Ritchie's attempted "update" on the character and the "Sherlock Holmes" universe itself presents us with a mystery that is almost decidedly simplistic yet creatively drawn out for a larger, more modern and mainstream …
review by . December 29, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
FUN, Nicely Acted But the Screenplay is Very
   Sherlock Holmes was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and this character has clearly become a household name in the books of detective thrillers. Once again, Hollywood intends to re-imagine/revive/ re-issue the beloved detective under Guy Ritchie’s direction in 2009’s “SHERLOCK HOLMES”. Many folks would describe this movie as entertaining, fun and a piece of diversion. Diversion is such a loose word to use to describe a movie; after all even a shitty movie can …
review by . January 02, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Through all the grime and soot of old London towne, Holmes found that clue.
It's probably a good thing that I've never read a Sherlock Holmes story as I might have only gone into this movie with a laundry list of facts and tidbits and leaving the theater annoyed at how much was spat on if in fact it was.      With what I know about Sherlock Holmes, being an urbane, professional, intellectual with his cap on his head and calabash in mouth, it was odd to see him a sweaty, dirty, fussy and unshaven pit fighting brawler with a dinky little pipe.  …
review by . May 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
SHERLOCK HOLMES       I wanted to see this movie so bad because I have always been a fan of Holmes and of course of Robert Downey Jr. So I was a bit disappointed when I missed it in the theaters and had to wait for the DVD/Blu Ray release and all that. So as I waited some things went down but eventually it was released. So naturally I went out and had to own this even without seeing it. Still that didn't matter we all wanted to see it so off we went to view the new Holmes movie. …
review by . March 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
  Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his assistant Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) have just closed another case by capturing Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) who has dealt with murder, and been very involved with black magic. Lord Blackwood is hanged for his crimes; however, after several months rumors begin to spread that he is in fact still alive, by apparently using more magic to keep himself from dying. When Blackwood's coffin is opened, it is found that another man is there, and Blackwood's …
review by . March 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Several years ago my brother introduced me to the films of Guy Ritchie. Fun stories, insane amounts of gun fire and some serious profanity. I remember getting my first taste of Jason Statham and not being able to contain my excitement when a fight was about to break out on screen and he was in the scene. Sherlock Holmes brings elements of past Ritchie films and incorporates the style with a classic Holmes story. And just as I yelled for blood during his previous movies, I did the same watching Holmes …
review by . January 02, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
As 2009 came to a close there were two movies in particular that were released that people had their eye on.  The first was Avatar, James Cameron's amazing visual spectacle.  The other was Sherlock Holmes, which dropped just after Christmas.  When it came to Sherlock Holmes it was hard to say what to think of it.            I rarely delight in movie previews and it's even rarer that I look at a preview and think to myself, "There's …
review by . January 05, 2010
A thoroughly entertaining take on Sherlock Holmes. A lot of UK critics seemed to have a downer on it, saying it runs out of steam, or the bromance elements of the Holmes/Watson relationship got tired, but I don't agree. The story for the most part cracks along, and Downey Jr and Law maintain the odd couple thing ably.       Plus, some fans may be miffed at how the Holmes character is portrayed as a brawling, dirty scruffbag. As I understand it though, …
Quick Tip by . December 29, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A little slow and boring to start but it gets better and has a very good and unexpected ending. Worth the watch for sure.
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James Beswick ()
Ranked #20's "token Brit".
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About this movie


Sherlock Holmes
is a film starring Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law and Rachel McAdams.  The film will be released on Christmas Day 2009.

Sherlock Holmes is a 2009 film adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional character of the same name. The film was directed by Guy Ritchie and produced by Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey and Dan Lin. The screenplay by Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg is based on Lionel Wigram's story and Doyle's characters. Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law respectively portray Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The film was released in the United States on December 25, 2009 and on December 26, 2009 in the UK and the Pacific.

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Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: December 25, 2009
Studio: Warner Bros Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures
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