“Sherlock Holmes” – Detective or superhero?

Sherlock Holmes
"Sherlock Holmes" stars Roberty Downey, Jr. as a scruffy Holmes and Jude Law as a clean-cut Dr. Watson. (Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Rated PG13

Directed by Guy Richie

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan

Heidi’s Illustrious Rating: 2.5/5

Word of Warning: May be a bit scary for little ones.   Excessive use of CGI.

This movie is Guy Richie’s reinterpretation of Sherlock Holmes, the famous British detective who uses his mind to outwit criminals and solve crimes. Does the fact Richie is a Brit make him qualified to muck with such a legendary figure? Perhaps, and muck he does.

The story starts out at a wild pace. Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is hot on the trail of an evil villain. Richie immediately shows off some of his typical directorial style, fast, flashy with a fondness for humor.

Holmes is able to save the day and the girl, and put a serial killer to the rope, but a bigger case is afoot when it appears the killer has come back to life. Holmes is intrigued by the case, and though the superstitious police and public believe it is magic or supernatural, the logical Holmes thinks it is an elaborate hoax.

At the same time other storylines are playing out. Dr. Watson’s (Jude Law) impending nuptials and his intention to move out of the flat he shares with Holmes is causing the later great grief. Also, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), a woman Holmes both adores and fears has come back to town.

That is the plotline in a nutshell. Now you must understand, I’m a bit Holmes fan. I’ve watched a number of Sherlock Holmes television shows on PBS and BBC America, and I’ve also read quite a few of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.

While the story stays true to some of Holmes’ quirks, including alluding to Holmes’ drug use, it strays greatly from Doyle’s Holmes. Holmes movie are usually based on one of the many stories written by Doyle, but not only is this movie not based on a Doyle story, it takes great liberties with certain characters.

For instance, Irene Adler is not a criminal, and only appears in one of Doyle’s stories. She does outwit Holmes in “A Scandal in Bohemia,” but there is no love affair between the two. The character of Holmes plays out more like James Bond, minus all the women, rather than a staunchly British detective with a penchant for the pipe and violin.

However, this wasn’t my main issue with “Sherlock Holmes.” The excessive use of CGI continually drew me out of this movie and out of the time period in which it was set. This is an historical  film and London still exists. Why did every scene of 19th Century London have to be in CGI? Couldn’t the BBC lend Hollywood the sets they use for the hundreds of period pieces they recreate every year?

Unfortunately, the constant use of CGI in scene after scene started to give the movie a feeling of being just another big budget superhero flick. And Sherlock Holmes is not a superhero. He’s just a very smart, very observant humanbeing.

Personally, I like Sherlock Holmes  movies set in a world that really exists, not some overly stylized Hollywood version of the world. This movie has taken a character from literature and made him a gimmick.

That being said, I thought Robert Downey Jr. was a humorous Holmes and Jude Law was fantastic as Dr. Watson. But will children remember the real Sherlock Holmes? Highly doubtful, and that is sad. We certainly haven’t seen the last of this new fangled Holmes, because the movie’s ending is an obvious set up for a sequel.

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