I can’t remember the last Christmas when I didn’t go see a movie with my cousins. We stuff ourselves full of turkey, mashed potatos and apple pie, then limp through a bucket of popcorn at the cinema. This year, we saw Sherlock Holmes.
Producing a Sherlock Holmes flick was a stroke of genius. The time is particularly ripe for it; Sherlock Holmes stories in general are cousins to “steampunk”, and the film has all the necessary ingredients of a worthy blockbuster; a classical element, a “subculture” appeal, a love story, explosions, and Jude Law.
Speaking of Jude Law, I was kind of hesitant about the casting; I could have seen him as an excellent Holmes, and I’m kind of indifferent to morally upright Law; if he’s not being bad, I simply don’t care that much. But Robert Downey, Jr is just so right as Holmes (though the performance was perhaps a little too much like Hugh Laurie’s Dr. Gregory House) that I’m willing to forgive that Law was “only” Dr. Watson, and a good one at that.
I’m not wild about Rachel McAdams as an actress, but I think she is the new Julia Roberts. She isn’t so much a great performer or a serious actress as she is a wonderful presence on screen. She’s beautiful and riveting and she owns every shot. Either way, I’m delighted that the Irene Adler character made an appearance at all in the film. I’ve read few Sherlock Holmes stories, but “A Scandal in Bohemia” and the character made a strong impression on me as a teenager, so I’m glad she wasn’t omitted from the film.
Criticisms that the film is too long are not unfounded, but I think that it was remarkably well-done, considering its length. Sherlock Holmes is a balanced film, with peaks and valleys in narrative tension evenly distributed and with plot points mapped for variety; action, romance, and mystery do not particularly dominate individual thirds of the movie, but rather are spread out and well-integrated.
All in all, Sherlock Holmes was everything I could have wanted from a Christmastime film excursion.