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DVD Review: Sherlock Holmes (2009)

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The Guy Ritchie take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos seemed like my kind of movie (it even came out on my birthday in the U.K). So I did what was only natural and somehow didn’t manage to see it for eight months. And I’m glad I finally did.

The plot of the film revolves around Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr Watson’s (Jude Law) last case together before Watson gets married and leaves 221b Baker Street. But before that happens, they must solve the mystery of how a hanged lord can come back from the grave before it’s too late…

It strays from the books somewhat (Irene Adler was never Sherlock Holmes’ love interest) but it does this while creating its own tale, rather than adapting a pre-existing work. And in some areas, it’s actually closer than some people realise. Holmes was indeed a pugilist (indeed, his opponent in an in-film boxing match was named for one of his old boxing victories in the books) and had ferocious strength. Watson was an army doctor who had anywhere from one to three wives, so his portrayal by Law here isn’t far from the original vision.

I liked the chemistry between the two leads, and Holmes’ interactions with Adler (Rachel McAdams) were pretty damn funny. Mark Strong made a good villain and felt like a good representation of a typical Holmesian villain. Rounding out the cast, we have Eddie Marsan as Lestrade (he has one of those faces) and Kelly Reilly as Mary Morstan.

The DVD that I got doesn’t have much on it, just the movie and a brief featurette called “Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented” that serves more as a teaser for the movie than anything else (I suspect it was produced for daytime airing as part of the publicity campaign), only giving you a brief glimpse into the production process. I don’t think there’s a commentary on there, but if there is, it certainly isn’t advertised on the case.

All in all, I loved the film. It had the right balance of deduction and action, and sometimes (as seen in the fight sequences) it blended the two together pretty well. It’s obviously going to appeal to my interests as a keen Holmesian and I’m glad to say that it didn’t let me down. It incorporated many of the elements that some adaptations seem to forget, such as Holmes being a master of disguise, his aforementioned boxing talent and how his mind works.

The script was also well written with humorous dialogue and the obligatory Scooby Doo explanation at the end. The music complemented the film very well. It made me forgive Hans Zimmer for working on the utterly atrocious live-action Thunderbirds movie. The whole mystery felt like something you might read as part of the original canon, only with quite a few more explosions.

Why did I wait so long to obtain a movie that I loved? In the words of the great detective himself (in “The Adventure Of The Priory School”), “I am a poor man…”

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About Scott Varnham