Updated: Monday, 28 Dec 2009, 9:33 AM EST
Published : Monday, 21 Dec 2009, 11:52 PM EST
By FOX43tv.com's Film Reviewer, Stephanie Cooke
Sherlock Holmes is a grand new look at an age old story. Director Guy Ritchie takes the famous detective and his sidekick Watson and practically stand them on their heads from what we know of them in the original incarnation from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The foggy streets of London, the courteous gentility and the conspiracies of old are forsaken for a dirty new Holmes and Watson -- ones that are brawlers and hysterical at times.
Set in Victorian Era England with the construction of the London Bridge as a backdrop to the story, Sherlock Holmes is the story of Holmes played quite well by Robert Downey, Jr. and Holmes' sidekick Dr. Watson played equally well by Jude Law. Holmes is a mess after he learns that the handsome Dr. Watson is involved in a relationship and is ready to propose. Holmes tries his best to convince him otherwise while the case they are working on unfolds.
The case is what happened to Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong). At the beginning of the film Holmes and Watson manage to stop him from killing a 6th woman and he is sentenced to death by hanging. After his hanging, the stones covering his tomb miraculously split in half and he is replaced in his coffin by someone else.
The someone else is exactly who Holmes old flame Irene ( Rachel McAdams) has asked him to find for her. She's working for someone, but we never really understand who. Holmes and Watson find themselves embroiled in numerous fights as they try to crack the case.
Some amazing fight scenes are made more enjoyable with Guy Ritchie's intricate technique of super slow-moing the scene and then slamming it back into real time. It's a technique that he's used before and was annoying to me then mainly because of its randomness. Here, he uses it to get inside of Holmes' mind so that you understand how quickly he figures things out. It's really the perfect use for this technique.
Even though the setting is not the mysterious, foggy London we expect from the original story, the cinematography is wonderful as is the art direction. It's gritty and realistic, not overly beautiful. Lots of bad teeth and dirty clothes and it's filled with the feeling that people are working for a living, while Holmes frequently acts like he shouldn't have to.
Downy, Jr. is excellent in this role. If you are hung up on your own preconceived notions of who Sherlock Holmes is, you may not enjoy this new reimagining of the character. He is witty and clever and altogether enjoyable -- the character and Downey, Jr. Jude Law is the right balance to Downey, Jr. He maintains his own charisma while being the straight man in many scenes.
The down side to the film is that it does go on a little long, and I was disappointed in the Rachel McAdams character of Irene. She was a little flat and given enough lines to produce the conflict in Holmes that I think the movie should have had.
That said, as soon as the film is over, you immediately think about the next one, which is a good thing for Warner Brothers. It's left open and primed for the next part of the story to come along. Men will love it, women will love it, teens may even love it -- mine did and he couldn't wait for the next one. Can you say franchise?