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01 January 2010 @ 11:58 pm
My Dear Watson ... (spoiler free, save for the fact there's violence in a Guy Ritchie film)  
Obeying the primal urge of people who live in a city that is too hot by half, we sought out air conditioning and a cinema today.

Sherlock Holmes
was the film of choice, both of us being avid Conan Doyle fans. We were prepared to take it on its own merits and loathe it if need be. But we did not need it to be Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett, as the world already has both of their Holmeses.

As it turned out, we quite enjoyed it. I liked the muscular, Byron with brains performance given by Robert Downey Jnr (who I admit is an old fave) and I even liked Jude Law very much as Watson (first time I've really liked him on screen) and think he did a very fine job with a character who canonically was a man of action and precision. The insertion of Irene Adler wasn't too annoying, Watson's fiancee Mary was excellent, and Mark Strong makes a most convincing Bad Guy.

But for all that, I wish that Guy Ritchie had a Neill Blomkamp. You know Blomkamp, he's the chap who Peter Jacksons now that Peter is busy being Sir Peter (which is well deserved, BTW). In Blomkamp's debut, District 9, he had all the good parts of an early Jackson film with none of the overblown grandiosity of the later ones, plus a bit of wit and coolness all his own.

Had Sherlock Holmes been produced by Guy Ritchie, rather than directed, I think it would have been a much better film. The gritty violence of Victorian London was splendidly realised and worked perfectly for the modernisation of the story, but there was just too much of it and not enough story telling. The chop-cut editing to show Holmes's thought sequences was effective, but each time it was followed up by the real-time action, wasting valuable film time that could have been used on more topless RDJ shots. Similarly, the denouément begins in typical Holmesian 'What first gave you away' style, but it is as though the film-maker quickly grew bored and decided to insert another action sequence.

The problem, of course, is that Holmes works best because its action and thrills are centered around tight story. Take that away, focus on the action and thrills, and it's all just bread and circuses. Though hot bread and circuses, with very good performances and great production values (save for that leather coat, which just looked wholly out of place).

On the whole, four and a half stars to everyone else, two and a half to Guy Ritchie.

As to the whole pre-slashed angle, well, it's Byron and Shelley and you can read that as you will. A fun start to the year, but one that had me wishing I could have been on set with a rod that I was allowed to apply to the director whenever his indulgences appeared. And for those of you who know it, you can play Spot Hatfield House, too!
 
 
 
Casaella_irene on January 1st, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
My family and I went to see it yesterday, and all enjoyed it. And it didn't trip my embarassment squick, hurrah!

The docks were Liverpool Docks. How do I know? Because my cousin-in-law did the blowing up! (which sounds very Allo Allo.)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 1st, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
Ahahaha! It is Spot the Location, isn't it?

BTW, HAPPY LATE BIRTHDAY! I have been surprisingly crap. Well, actually, you've known me for a while, not that surprisingly ...
Casaella_irene on January 1st, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
Oh yes. What was Hatfield House?

Thank you!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 1st, 2010 02:34 pm (UTC)
The long gallery with the gold roof, where the Men Of Power were pouncing about secretly evilly ;-)
Casaella_irene on January 1st, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
Aha! ...I have an urge to discuss it. Why did they bring the USA in? The British Empire covered a quarter of the globe! America was just overkill.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 1st, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
And it was a generational oddness, those men's fathers and grandfathers might have felt the loss, but they themselves would be far more concerned about Asia and Africa. Yes, I quite agree.

However, in a way, it was a very authentic touch as Conan Doyle often had American plot insertions. I think on the one hand that he had a genuine fondness for the place (he travelled there widely) and on the other hand, he had a fine authorial appreciation for the marketing opportunities allowed there. Perhaps both can also be allowed for Mr Ritchie?
Casaella_irene on January 1st, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
I suppose. But there was Irene Adler, as an American plot insertion.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 1st, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah ... I suppose that they needed a Holmes-focussed heroine and she was the only woman he was ever intrigued by. And at least she was canonically American.
Casaella_irene on January 1st, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
That's another thing they did well-- the heroines. Both of whom took no nonsense from their respective men.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 1st, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, I did like that. And I liked the fact that Mary did nothing that was improper for a Victorian gentlewoman, and yet was effective and intelligent the whole way through. Irene is always allowed to be more peculiar, because not only is she American, she is an actress ;-)
AMY 凛☆ラブ☆アタックtomatoe18 on January 1st, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
The problem, of course, is that Holmes works best because its action and thrills are centered around tight story. Take that away, focus on the action and thrills, and it's all just bread and circuses. Though hot bread and circuses, with very good performances and great production values (save for that leather coat, which just looked wholly out of place)

One, I could've really used this pointer when I was writing my official review of the movie for the magazine. But thanks for mentioning this. It sums up how I feel about the movie.

Two, which leather coat was it again? I've watched the movie 3 times and can't, for the life of me, remember a leather coat in the story.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 1st, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
Mark Strong (Lord Blackwood) turns up in it. It's just so 1940s, which is odd when everything else is more period-appropriate.

And yeah, great spectacle, and some genuinely lovely character work from the director as well as the actors (the two men not telling each other things was divine) but just not enough story!

Still, hot boys abungo!
AMY 凛☆ラブ☆アタックtomatoe18 on January 1st, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
Oh! That. Yes, Blackwood's coat. Now I remember. And he was dressed mostly weirdly throughout the movie. Even his other period-appropriate suits looked slightly... out of this world. I don't know. There was one moment he looked like Dracula with wide, pointy collar thingie... (can't explain this very well, I know, sorry.)

I was just telling my sister after we watched this afternoon, "Great storytelling, but well, let's face it, there's not much story to begin with."

My crush for Robert Downey Jr. from when I was 13 returned in full force, I tell you.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 1st, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
He is always a delight to watch on screen. Happily, 2010 will be a year with much RDJ! Nothing I like better than talented, thinky crumpet.
AMY 凛☆ラブ☆アタックtomatoe18 on January 1st, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
I just saw the trailer for Iron Man, though. It looks... American. ^^;; Hollywood, I mean. I'm worried. But he looks pretty awesome there. So that's one movie to look forward to this year.
inamac: Sev-Septimusinamac on January 1st, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC)
I am planning on seeing this anyway (have been ever since I heard that Ritchie was making it), but no-one else has mentioned Mark Strong in leather!!!

Checks for cinema times tomorrow...
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2010 12:22 pm (UTC)
Yes, aside from the gross anachronism, it was v pleasant. And I do like him a great deal!
LadyDark1 ~ A  Harry and Draco Slash Addict.Periodldydark1 on January 1st, 2010 04:37 pm (UTC)
I have read and heard of similar critiques of the movie.
Yours is the best I have read so far.
Maybe the director felt the need for more action,
to capture the attention span of the movie
audience.
I plan on seeing the movie soon.
I am waiting for the holiday crowds to go down.
Robert Downey, Jr. is a rare, gifted, talented,
actor. He is a chameleon to me. He is able to
become the character he portrays.
I have always been impressed with him.
The flirting, pre-slash between the two,
I saw in a preview.
I thought that was interesting,
and raised my eyebrow.
I am glad for the comeback for Downey.
He had a rough time of it, and I hope
he has put his demons behind him.

blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 3rd, 2010 02:02 am (UTC)
Yes, I think that is the thing that is most compelling about RDJ: it's obviously him in each role, but it's also very much the character. He is one of those rare character actors who is also a movie star: Meryl Streep is the only other live example who comes to mind. Viggo Mortensen is more in the character actor mould (and very very fine in that category).

I'm glad he managed to put things back together, too. Hurrah for his supportive family and friends, and for his own fortitude.

You will enjoy it when you get to see it! For all that I gripe about the need for more story, I still enjoyed it a great deal and would watch it again.
sassy_cissa: new year champagne poppingsassy_cissa on January 1st, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
Obeying the primal urge of people who live in a city that is too hot by half, we sought out air conditioning and a cinema today.

It's currently -12c with the wind making it feel like -19c. I'll sell a child for the need for air conditioning. lol

Happy New Year, darling!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 3rd, 2010 02:04 am (UTC)
Yes, I went from -7 and pingrid needing to wrap my scarf around my head, to +30 in the space of a few days. Tell you what, -7 outside but warm inside is more bearable ;-) However, it's currently 21, so I wish you were here!

Happy New year to you, too!
Heather: Books are Lovefaynia on January 1st, 2010 06:06 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed Jude Law in a mustache kicking in doors like a BAMF as well. *G*

Although, going to see it with a boy who really loves action movies, he really, really loved all of that movie.

I wasn't bored, or confused, because the plot was pretty much in your face all the time, except when Holmes is getting his ass kicked in boxing rings.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 3rd, 2010 02:05 am (UTC)
Yes, Mr Brammers really liked it, though he agreed with me there could have been more plot. Still, hard-core Holmes and Watson were pretty damn fine! And really, any film that delivers on topless RDJ, well, I can buy the video and pause whenever I am feeling glum with life ;-)
prone to mischieftreacle_tartlet on January 1st, 2010 08:26 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, I stopped reading at topless RDJ shots...
...
...
excuse me, I may be some time...

Edited at 2010-01-01 08:26 pm (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 3rd, 2010 02:06 am (UTC)
It's as though he was listening in on our plans for the perfect Iron Man director's cut!
trichinopoly ash: master: ftwaldehyde on January 1st, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
oh thank you for this review! it echoed almost exactly what my other extremely trusted holmesian source said in his review a few days ago :D i just have to find the time [and perhaps a companion] to go watch this film now.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 3rd, 2010 02:06 am (UTC)
You will enjoy it very much and be very mildly frustrated, but the prettiness and the vividness will allow you to cope easily with the frustration ;-) Go!
carnadosacarnadosa on January 2nd, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
I just saw that with my fam myself, and while I really adored the gratuitous shirtless boxing and the Holmes/Watson slashiness (Holmes all upset that Watson is moving out and getting married, the whos dog argument, the way they knew just how to manage each other)...I really thought it was my visual media aversion (haha, this is the first movie I've seen in theaters or sat down to watch it all at once in five years) that had me thinking the whole time how much the pacing sucked and how very little story there was. It was packaged lovely, but it was a bit like eating a twinkie.

And, ok, I don't get why Mary tossed her drink at Holmes, because she was warned and she still asked. Possibly I wasn't paying enough attention because I thought the scene was going to hit my embarrassment squick.
It's a Deensedeensey on January 2nd, 2010 11:00 am (UTC)
I AGREE COMPLETELY. Can I just link to your post? <3333
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)
Always, babe. Urgh, just napped for England, again. Should have just showered and gone to bed at 8 ...
It's a Deensedeensey on January 2nd, 2010 12:19 pm (UTC)
HA! You are never going to get your sleep righted, you realise!

Next week, gelato? I'm back at work, but any day after.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2010 12:21 pm (UTC)
Sounds great, but at our gelato place, not ice and slice, which is largely rubbish ;-)
It's a Deensedeensey on January 2nd, 2010 12:27 pm (UTC)
I've never liked ice and slice for anything but pizza.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2010 12:29 pm (UTC)
They have one good sundae, which is basically vanilla with a tub of hot chocolate sauce, but it is about 6200 calories, so stuff it! Sorbet in this weather!
It's a Deensedeensey on January 2nd, 2010 12:32 pm (UTC)
Hells yes. Dolce and Gelato ftw!!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2010 12:38 pm (UTC)
And the sorbet shake ... Mmmmmm.

Are you off to Goulburn, BTW? It's all booked out, alas! And we have no air con on the car, I think I have to bail.
It's a Deensedeensey on January 2nd, 2010 12:46 pm (UTC)
Mmmm sorbet shake.

I am indeed! Boo booked out! More boo to no ac in the car!