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Sherlock Holmes - The verdict

I saw the film on the 26th but it has taken a little time for me to marshal my thoughts on it. The problem is that there are two positions from which this film can be reviewed. On the one hand you can look at it as a film in its own right. On the other, you can view it as a piece of faithful Sherlockiana. I shall look at it from both.


As a film it is good fun. The plot is a total cliché (covert Masonic-style group, with an Aleister Crowley-style leader, attempts to take over the country) but the action keeps the pace at such a level that you simply don't have the time to dwell on its shortcomings until after you've left the cinema. The casting (with the exception of RDJ) is reasonable, at no stage was I bored and I certainly hope for a sequel. The recreation of Victorian London is first-class and the attempt to look at Holmes's more physical side is to be commended. From this perspective I give the film 7/10.

From a Sherlockian perspective it is far from a success. Like many Sherlock Holmes films, not based on a Conan Doyle story, the scriptwriters have attempted to give the film a canonical feel by peppering it with lines/scenes from the original stories. The result is something of a patchwork which, for me, was rather disjointed.

The occasionally comical "Captain Jack Sparrow" Holmes that RDJ gives us is out of place as is his apparent infatuation with Irene Adler. As was to be expected, whenever the filmmakers had to make the choice between fidelity and commercial success they chose the latter. Hence Holmes's drugs were dispensed with (which I consider to be rather cowardly) and replaced with something akin to a drink problem.

Moving on to the rest of the cast, Law’s Watson is excellent. He is entirely convincing as a former soldier but is less convincing as a doctor. His wife-to-be is a rather pointless character. It is clear that she exists purely to act as a wedge between Holmes and Watson and this is reflected in her relative lack of screen time. Irene Adler, as portrayed, is somewhat removed from the Adler in A Scandal in Bohemia but it would have been impossible to have her in the film and not alter her character.

Blackwood made a good melodramatic villain but did not really come across as someone who was an intellectual equal of Holmes. I was left feeling that the Holmes of the books would have dealt with Blackwood in half the time that it took RDJ's

The character I enjoyed the most was the one with the least screen time. I refer to Professor Moriarty. The two scenes in which the character both features and speaks are full of menace. The fact that he is also kept in shadow (clearly to permit freedom of casting in the sequel) adds to the menace.

In view of all the above, from a Sherlockian perspective, I give the film 5/10.

So my overall mark, combining both scores, would be 6/10.