Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes

I went into Sherlock Holmes expecting to be able to cry foul, that it disregarded and discarded the original book series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Happily, I found it to be an exciting and entertaining modern adaptation rather than the travesty I feared. My bad for doubting Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr.

I admit I have only read one or two of the original Sherlock Holmes books, and so am actually not the best to judge whether the movie does justice to the original. (My brother pointed out that I am ridiculous for being willing to censure a movie based on books I don’t know well, and he’s right.) Regardless, the movie includes detective-story mystery analysis, and the usual “let’s reveal all” at the end, tying up all (well, most) of the loose ends.

The character play between Downey and Law as Holmes and Watson is great. Holmes is in a sort of depressive phase, which actually makes sense for a such a genius. (I would say “tending towards the autistic end of the spectrum” and point to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, a story by Mark Hadden about an autistic kid who admires Sherlock Holmes.) There’s a fair amount of amusing banter that occasionally breaks period, but it’s done in an entertaining way and with good timing.

The movie admittedly has a lot more action than a Sherlock Holmes book (certainly more explosions). But for the most part it fits in the story being told, rather than being shoehorned in. And there are cool sequences where Sherlock Holmes calls out what fighting moves he’s going to do ahead of time, then performs them in real-time (sadly, only twice in the movie; wouldn’t want to overdo it, but I would have enjoyed another one). Since you can’t translate a book directly to a movie anyway, I was fine with this.

The music in the movie isn’t so amazing (i.e. I wouldn’t listen to it over and over), but there are a number of clever bits. Holmes’ theme is plucked out on strings in a minorish key, occasionally on a violin played by Holmes himself. (Not quite how I pictured it in the books! It’s no elegant performance but almost a nervous habit. But it fits this Holmes very well.) As for the background music, it does a good job of managing the level of tension in the scene, a couple times transitioning into Holmes’ theme right when I was getting nervous. (I caught myself watching for it once.) Well done.

It’s not quite a mystery story, or rather it’s the type of mystery in which the audience has no real way of connecting the dots themselves, and just has to wait for the answer. But while there was nothing amazingly original or outstanding about the movie, it was just fun. It’s not Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, but it’s a perfectly good manifestation of the character. It’s an above-average mainstream action movie, and I’d say go see it for sure…if only movie tickets weren’t so darn expensive.