MANLY ARTS – “Sherlock Holmes”, reviewed
by Gregory A. Butler
This is DEFINITELY a “Sherlock Holmes” for the Michael Bay era! Basically, it’s the old Arthur Conan Doyle cocaine crazed savant detective put through the John Wu blender, with a touch of John Waters camp added in, and special effects to die for.
Let’s talk about the CGI first – director Guy Ritchie and his tech wizards totally made you believe you were in Victorian-era London – you could practically smell the raw sewage in the gutters (and the sweat from the beggars and labourers teeming in the streets) – when you weren’t coughing from the coal dust fog.
That in and of itself was worth the $ 12.50.
As for the story itself, the most notable element was the ‘slash-fic’ relationship between Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr) and Dr John Watson (Jude Law) – basically, screenwriters Michael Robert Johnson and Anthony Peckham took the implicit homoeroticism of the Holmes/Dr Watson relationship (after all, these are two dudes who spend a LOT of time together) and put it squarely in the foreground.
When we meet Holmes and Dr Watson – as they are solving their latest case, a series of Satanic-themed murders committed by aristocratic sorcerer Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong – who does a hell of a job as a villain here) – we find that Holmes is incredibly jealous of Dr Watson’s fiancée, Mary Morstan (Kelly Riley).
And he’s jealous with good reason – because not only is Dr. Watson getting married, he’s also is moving out from their shared bachelor pad at 221b Baker St!
Basically, Dr Watson is dumping his longtime companion – and Holmes is not having it.
So Holmes has to man up, and pull Dr Watson back into the detective game – and save their relationship!
Don’t get it twisted, Holmes has a legitimate sounding reason to pull Dr Watson back into the mix, because the Lord Blackwood murder case isn’t quite as “solved” as they thought it was, even after Blackwood gets executed!
We spend the next 120 minutes romping around Victorian London with Holmes – who’s basically a 19th century crackhead with “Matrix“-style martial arts skills and a “Rain Man” idiot savant investigative style – and his straight man Dr Watson, a war hero surgeon and high stakes gambler who is the more stable and almost maternal figure in their long running bromance.
Even though Holmes also has a female love interest – master criminal Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) it’s pretty obvious that his true love is Dr Watson – and, Watson is torn between the prospects of a respectable marriage to a high class English lady and his dysfunctional but sincere true love for his brilliant but addled life partner.
And no, before you ask, they didn’t go all “Brokeback Mountain” on us here – not even in the prison sequence!
But I kinda wish they had – it would have made a better movie – even if it had to make some of the young men in the audience a little uncomfortable in the process!
Beyond the love that dare not speak its name, “Sherlock Holmes” has some AWESOME fight scenes – as Holmes and Dr Watson save the British Empire, one brawl at a time.
My personal favorite is Holmes’ battle with a 7’ tall French thug in a Thames River shipyard… fighting with sledgehammers, trash talking in French (with subtitles) and they go at it so hard they wreck a battleship!
Comment dites-vous “Thug Life” en français?
And there’s a little bit of “Fight Club” in the mix too – in his spare time, Holmes is a bare-knuckled prize fighter on the underground club fighting circuit, dealing out scientific asskickings to roughnecks twice his size.
Ritchie handles this aspect of the fight scenes very well – before the fight starts, we get to see all the action in slo-mo, with Holmes telling you EXACTLY how he’s going to rock and roll on the guy, what bones he’s going to break – and how long it will take for the other man to physically – and psychologically – recover from the beatdown! And then the action gets speeded up and we see Holmes back up his tough talk – and make the other man look like a fool in the process.
This is how Holmes fights on the street too – and, in case all the kinetic thuggery fails, Dr Watson is ALWAYS strapped – his .38 revolver can finish any fight that Holmes starts.
A two fisted intellectual thug and a surgeon with a gat – now THAT’S gangsta!
Oh yeah, and it isn’t just the boys that get to throw down – Irene Adler’s a little badass too – dishing out the fisticuffs with the fellas, and, like Holmes and Dr Watson, she brings the androgyny too – she’s dressed like a boy in most of her fight scenes.
But, for all the times Adler saves Holmes – or sets up Holmes so he has to save her – Holmes still only has eyes for Dr Watson!
And, before you ask, yes, there will be a sequel – they totally set up the next film at the end of this one.
Bottom line, if you like heteroflexible action adventure, you are going to love this picture!
But even the fellas who are a little uncomfortable with their feminine side (you know who you are – you go to the movie with your boy, but you leave an empty seat between you two, so nobody gets the wrong idea – yeah, guy, I’m talking to YOU) will still love the action – and they might just learn a little bit about real men and real love.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is unwatchably bad – 10 is incredibly awesome) I give “Sherlock Holmes” a 9.71
Well, I just created the blog TODAY, so it’s going to take a little while.
I expect to have my very first review up here sometime this weekend – by Sunday morning at the latest.
It will PROBABLY be a review of “Sherlock Holmes” – unless, of course, I see some other movie tomorrow, in which case, obviously, you will NOT be getting a review of “Sherlock Holmes” from me (hey, I have journalistic standards of integrity to uphold here!)
Hey, folks, this is Gregory A. Butler here, and this is one of my blogs. On this site, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite things – motion pictures (that is, “movies” – or, if you want to be pretentious about it “films”).
Hope you like what I have to say – if you don’t…hey, that’s what the COMMENTS feature is for!
GREGORY A. BUTLER
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