It was the OTHER big Christmas movie release of 2009, and though “Sherlock Holmes” couldn’t hope to keep up with that “Dances with Smurfs” movie, it holds its own as a throwaway good time.
Robert Downey Jr. banks a little more star power playing the famed English sleuth as (surprise!) a dashing, smarmy, hardscrabble cad with a touch of agoraphobia.
The initial film in what director Guy Ritchie (and Warners) hopes to be a legitimate franchise sees Holmes battling the dastardly Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong).
Blackwood dabbles in the supernatural and taunts Holmes as he’s awaiting execution that he’ll continue to kill even after he is hanged. He is, and true to his word bodies continue to pile up.
In the meantime, Holmes’ partner Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is hoping to get away from this life, having gotten engaged to the fair Mary (Kelly Reilly), but he can’t seem to escape Holmes’ clutches.
There’s a fascinating undercurrent to Holmes and Watson’s relationship that’s almost homoerotic, as Holmes does everything in his power to free Watson from his matrimonial bonds, and Watson finds himself continually attracted to this brilliant man. They are the prototypical bromantic life partners who know each other like they’re an old married couple.
Being a Guy Ritchie film, of course there’s a slimy layer of glossy grit to this Holmes, who is also a bareknuckle brawler in his spare time, and Watson has a little more than a hint of a gambling problem. The sequences where Holmes determines where and in what order to assault his opponents makes for some of the more interesting and funny portions of the film. Of course, these deductive powers serve him in a less-physical manner as well, leading up to the final showdown with Blackwood on top of an unfinished bridge.
Downey and Law seem to have a blast playing off of each other, and their slick banter is diverting if not wholly fascinating. Ditto for the story and its abundant action sequences, which push the limits of, but never totally violate the spirit of Holmes as a character.
As is the standard in recent releases, DVD extras are sparse, with only a featurette on Ritchie and Downey’s slick new take on Holmes. The Blu ray release has a bit more, adding content like picture-in-picture, storyboard comparisons, a timeline, and focus points.
Film: 3.5 Yaps
Extras: 2 Yaps