Review: Sherlock Holmes

I was hesitant to watch "Sherlock Holmes," the latest movie adaptation of the exploits of the world’s first consulting detective, because I like Robert Downey Jr. (Holmes), Jude Law (Watson), Guy Ritchie (the director) and Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal deductive genius and crime-fighter (Sherlock).

So naturally I was afraid the movie was going to be worse than "Ishtar."

Happily, I was wrong. "Sherlock Holmes" was a fun movie, and a good adaptation faithful to the spirit of Doyle’s Holmes. Some liberties were taken, particularly with the character of Irene Adler, but there was much in the film for a Holmes fan to love: a cryptic reference to Sherlock’s cocaine usage ("used for eye surgeries"), Holmes shooting VR into the wall, Holmes beating people up using martial arts (Holmes was a baritsu master and demonstrated unusual strength at least once) and Holmes taking liberties left and right with the law.

This movie chose to emphasize different aspects of the character. Downey’s Holmes was cerebral but also very physical, and people who aren’t Holmes fans would have been entertained enough by the explosions, shooting matches and fistfights everybody seemed to be getting into left and right. This Holmes was also somewhat socially… well, not inept, per se, because he seemed to be obnoxious on purpose.

Doyle’s Holmes was also rude and abrupt on many occasions (often to people who really deserved it), though the hundred-year-old dialogue may make it a bit more difficult for a modern audience to discern, so I felt this was a very reasonable interpretation.

And I absolutely adored how the film treated Watson. I get very annoyed when Watson is portrayed as a blithering idiot, because in "The Adventure of the Dying Detective" Holmes, pretending to be gravely ill, must keep Watson at least 10 feet away because if he doesn’t, Watson will immediately realize Holmes is faking. Holmes had a deep respect for Watson’s abilities, and Watson was never portrayed as stupid in Doyle’s work. He was simply a conventional, linear thinker. He was also very loyal and brave, both in the stories and in the Ritchie film.

It was an enjoyable movie, both on the level of mindless action-filled eye-candy, and as a faithful-in-spirit adaptation of Doyle’s work.

Rarely am I so deeply glad to be thoroughly wrong!