SHERLOCK HOLMES: Doyle Revised
SHERLOCK HOLMES (action/adventure)
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly and William Hope
Director: Guy Ritchie
Written by: Lionel Wigram, based on Arthur Conan Doyle's character
Time: 134 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)
LET'S SING A CHRISTMAS SONG (to the tune of Do You Hear What I Hear?):
Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy, Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy, Do you hear what I hear?
A turn, a turn, Turning in his grave,
That's Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
Yes, it's Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Yup, considering what Hollywood has done to his iconic character Sherlock Holmes, creator Doyle must be turning in his grave.
WHAT HAVE THEY DONE? Well, Guy Ritchie and story scripter Lionel Wigram have rewritten the famous detective, adding brawns to his brain power and turning the intellectual eccentric into an action hero the likes of Indy Jones and Jason Bourne. Now, that's the Americanisation of a British legend if there ever was one.
Played by the immensely likeable Robert Downey Jr, Holmes is depicted as a boxer, brawler and slob. His relationship with Dr Watson (Jude Law) is a lot more than just professional: they are cohabitating! But wait a minute, before you get ideas, let me say that Watson has a fiancee in Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly) and he is moving out of their Baker Street flat. There's even a love interest for the legendary detective in Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), touted as "the only woman to have bested Holmes".
The plot? Holmes and Watson track down Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), an aristocrat who appears to have 'risen fron the dead' after being hanged for the murders of five women via some kind of dark arts ceremony. Watson has supervised Blackwood's hanging himself and proclaimed the villain dead. However, as Blackwood has predicted, "Death is only the beginning," and he is now bent on world domination!
HITS AND MISSES? One feather in director Ritchie's cap here is his creation of a Victorian London via location work and CGI rendering. Londoners would be fascinated by it, especially the exciting climax on the girders of a half-built Tower Bridge.
Another feather on said cap is Ritchie's rendition of the Holmes-Watson relationship, spiced up with banter and bickering instead of the stiff-upper-lip friendship we have been accustomed to. Indeed, the Downey Jr-Law partnership is a riot, with McAdams (pictured, with Downey Jr) adding a touch of feminine vile, eye candy and mystery.
On the downside, the plot and its pacing can be a bit messy with Ritchie trying to cramp everything in. McAdams' Adler, for example, flits in and out of the plot seemingly at random, and her role is not properly integrated into the rest of the story. She is apparently being 'held back' for the inevitable sequel. Still, this makeover of a British institution looks set to rekindle interest in the legendary detective - courtesy of American tinkering and recycling.
THE LOWDOWN: Aw come on, Doyle may be turning in his grave but new fans are being born at the box-office.