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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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Guy Ritchie's envisioning of Holmes.

  • Aug 17, 2012
*** 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 audience. I only refer to it as an "attempt" because in all honesty, personal views aside, that's what it is. Ritchie clearly isn't the best choice for material like this, yet he obviously admired it enough to produce a film that's actually pretty fun when all is said and done. Not so much an update but more-so a film that illustrates the Holmes that Ritchie fell in love with and visualized in his head as a young boy, I can definitely admire it in spite of its obvious imperfections.

The film opens with Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his loyal sidekick Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) thwarting the attempted sacrifice of a beautiful young girl at the hands of an occult serial killer who goes by the name of Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong). This would have been the sixth life he claimed, if not for the famous detective turning the tables so successfully. Soon afterwards, Holmes cannot find a new case worthy of his time or set of skills, thrusting him into a deep depression within his shut-in apartment, and Watson is planning to move out of the same building all-together to live with the woman that he wishes to wed. However, Blackwood is scheduled to be hung quite soon and requests to see Holmes last minute, warning him that three more will die once he has. The plot really gets going when Blackwood is hung, and the next morning, is discovered to have rose from the grave and walked out of the cemetery overnight.

Holmes then receives a visit from an old acquaintance/femme fatale named Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), who may or may not be associated somehow with Blackwood's master plan; which is to overpower the British government or something of the sort. I was honestly more engaged with the delivery than the material. On the surface, "Sherlock Holmes" is far from masterful mystery storytelling but what allows it to succeed is, ultimately, Guy Ritchie's enthusiasm as a filmmaker. I'm not completely down with his style - too much green screen, too much CGI in some of the big action set pieces (especially the bridge finale), and an excess of slow motion - but the scenes where he employs the Phantom Camera (which, in the film's action sequences, gives us a good look at stuff the human eye could not regularly capture, such as the little details in between each blow delivered to human flesh) and the retro sets themselves are particularly interesting.

Casting could not be better as far as the two leads go. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law have great chemistry throughout and since most motion pictures - action and thriller genre offerings especially - must mix the expected stylistics with a bit of humor, they are the ones to deliver the best punch-lines. Aside from that, they just command every scene they're in together; and I could watch not one more, but SEVERAL more features starring the two of them. Mark Strong is kind of intimidating as Blackwood although he's forgettable. The only casting choice here that I'm not really that big of a fan of is Rachel McAdams in the role of Holmes's love interest. I just felt she was miscast; probably chosen from a large group of similarly aged and beautiful actresses to get the part instead of the screenwriters having her exclusively in mind. Sometimes, this can work out; here it just doesn't. She isn't horrible, but she simply does not fit the part.

But you know what, that doesn't bother me so much. It's a mere nitpick, as the rest of the film is just so darned entertaining. "Sherlock Holmes" could best be described as a late 1800's buddy comedy, and a damn good one at that. The actors seem to be having a good time and Ritchie emerges as a director with a firm grasp on his movie in spite of being unable to truly provide a different view on the characters or the narrative. They can't all be entirely new or fresh. I can't really complain. It might be overlong, slightly over-stylized, and perhaps even a little over-blown; but "Sherlock Holmes" is still a well-made picture if you treat it as escapism rather than cinematic mastery. It gives you what you want and nothing more: a plot based that is based around action but not so much so that it becomes all brawn and no brains. There's still some fight in this old boy.

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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 . 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 . December 30, 2009
 ... 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.      …
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.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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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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