Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sherlock Holmes Review Roundup

One of the things that I enjoy most about films is their ability to produce multiple interpretations and viewpoints. Some of those points I agree with and many of them I don't. However, I feel that by opening myself up to them I gain a broader and deeper perspective than the one I had before.

It is with that in mind that I am attempting a new feature where I roundup several reviews of a recent film, in order to gain a broader perspective beyond my review. Some of the reviews will be negative and some positive, but they all will be ones that I thought brought something interesting to the party.

With Sherlock Holmes, it seems as though there is great divide on the portrayal of Holmes himself. While most everyone agrees that Downey performs the role brilliantly, the biggest complaints come from those who disagree with the 'hyperactive' and 'witty' portrayal, as opposed to the stately and studious Holmes of tradition. Below is a roundup of reviews that all speak to their view on Holmes portrayal. Enjoy and feel free to share your thoughts.

Kyle Smith of the New York Post: Typically we agree on films, but this conservative writer feels Ritchie’s touch sinks the whole film

Excerpt: “Who the deuce decided to filter Sherlock Holmes through “Batman & Robin”? “Sherlock Holmes” dumbs down a century-old synonym for intelligence with S&M gags, witless sarcasm, murky bombast and twirling action-hero moves that belong in a ninja flick. Directed to do frantic American-buddy-movie shtick by Guy Ritchie, who has never before ruled a big-budget production, the normally brainy Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law compete rather than complement, each spewing his deductions like “Rain Man” meets “Good Will Hunting” instead of leading the audience through the elegant process of solving a mystery. Somebodytellthesedirectorsthattalkingfastdoesnotmakeyousoundsmart.

Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer: Negative review that laments on the lack of ‘soul’ within this modern Sherlock

Excerpt: “I'm all for Sherlock as a man of intense agility. Indeed, so was Conan Doyle, who described his cunning and eccentric sleuth as an ace bare-knuckle fighter who once dispatched his arch nemesis, Moriarty, in a flurry of martial arts. But Ritchie, mega-producer Joel Silver, and their (many) writers have left out an essential element: soul. Downey, who appears to have boned up on his Brit-speak by reviewing the collected works of Jeremy Irons (dry, deadpan, a little debauched), plays Holmes as a bipolar type (up when he's on a case, down when he's not) whose ability to size people up by use of deductive powers is reduced to nothing more than gimmickry.

Walter Chaw of Film Freak Central: Positive and well articulated. I wish I could write like this guy -
**Warning, he uses profanity in his review, and I have somewhat cleaned up the excerpt below

Excerpt: “As Holmes is long one of my favorite literary characters, I confess to being filled with something very much like delight by a picture that has the sense to know that Holmes is one sexy guy--a rock star who does drugs, seduces chicks with his prodigious (and unique) talents, wins fights, and spits at police. He's a Dickensian Batman, and if Ritchie did indeed use Nolan's redux as a template, he couldn't have chosen a cannier one.”

Bill Goodykoontz of the Arizona Republic: A strongly positive review

Excerpt: “Turns out there was no need to worry. Playing literature's greatest detective as a sort of self-loathing action hero, Downey has an absolute blast. And thanks to his performance in "Sherlock Holmes," so do we. Mind you, those who are put off by a depiction of Holmes as the sort of fellow who indulges in underground bare-knuckle boxing (he thinks that through as much as he does anything else) will have much to be put off by. Although this may be closer to Arthur Conan Doyle's original depiction of Holmes, audiences used to Basil Rathbone-like portrayals will be jarred. This is a rock-and-roll Holmes without the attendant music. In director Guy Ritchie's telling, Holmes still is off-the-charts brilliant. He's just a butt-kicker to boot.”

The Part-Time Critic: My mostly positive review -

Excerpt: “The center of the film is the incredible performance of Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes. Downey gives the most enjoyable and nuanced performance of a blockbuster hero since Depps’ Captain Jack Sparrow first waded upon shore…Despite his incredible skill and wit, Holmes is a fighter, gambler, and depressed addict that is generally unlikable when he’s not ‘on the case’…He is enjoyable here because the film makes no apologies for his character and isn’t afraid at showing the loneliness that stems from it…As entertaining as his deducing and fighting is, I find myself even more interested in how Holmes develops and overcomes his obvious flaws.”