Monday, December 28, 2009

A rock ‘em, sock ‘em Sherlock Holmes on screen

"Sherlock Holmes"
3 Stars

By Thomas Tracy

It’s rather elementary that once it was proven that a reboot of a decades-old franchise would be a planet shattering hit that every movie studio with a few old antiques rattling around their storm cellars would try their luck.

Warner Brothers is trying to grab that lightning with “Sherlock Holmes,” which hasn’t seen a big-screen re-launch since “Young Sherlock Holmes” in 1985. The Holmesian heyday in Hollywood, of course, ended in the late 1940s when Basil Rathbone shucked off the deerskin cap.

Yet while they have one of the cinema’s best character actors in their stable (Robert Downey, Jr., “Iron Man,” “The Soloist”) as the enigmatic 19th century super-sleuth, this mystery turned into a break-neck horse race around London has all the consistency of flash powder – there are shining moments, but in the end you’re left with nothing to grab onto.

Call it some kind of ironic therapy, but Downey – known for his bouts with illicit substances – doesn’t portray Holmes as the drug-addled genius others have. This Holmes is more bi-polar. After helping to arrest the mundanely devious Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong “Rock-n-Rolla”) and left with no interesting cases to solve, Holmes goes into a great depression that all the best London fight clubs can’t knock him out of.

When his best friend Dr. John Watson (Jude Law, “Sleuth,”) takes him to dinner to meet his future betrothed, all Holmes does is use his honed skills of deduction to insult her.But the poor fellow can’t help himself. Director Guy Ritchie (“Snatch”) aptly portrays both the good aspects of Holmes’ ability to make deductions from everything he sees and the ones that leave him with red wine splashed on his face.

It’s not until word spreads that Lord Blackwood has somehow risen from the grave that Holmes malaise is gone and he’s back in action.

Yet Downey’s Holmes is not really Arthur Conan Doyle’s incarnation. Instead he’s a 19th century Batman, replete with quick left hook and utility belt (we kid you not).

In turn, Law takes a completely new approach to Holmes’ traditionally bumbling sidekick while Rachel McAdams’ Irene Adler (Holmes fans will thrill to the name, but everyone else will go “Who?”) does a drab job as a sinister succubus.

Firing off all their flash powder at once, Warner Brothers managed to turn the tales of the legendary detective into explosive popcorn fare and set the stage for a second match between Holmes and a shadowy nemesis that only true fans will look forward to seeing.But will a sequel be made? That’s a mystery only the viewing public can solve.

"Sherlock Holmes." Starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Directed by Guy Ritchie. Running time: 128 minutes. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images and a scene of suggestive material.

Playing in Brooklyn at the Access Digital Theatres - Pavilion Cinema in Park Slope, Cobble Hill Cinemas, Linden Boulevard Multiplex Cinemas in East New York, UA Court Street Stadium 12 in Downtown Brooklyn, UA Sheepshead Bay 14 and Bay Ridge Alpine Cinemas.


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