Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Have They Done To My Sherlock?

I knew that Guy Ritchie was attempting a more comedic/actiony take on Sherlock Holmes, and I knew that he had hired Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law to portray Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson, respectively. As a HUGE fan of the original stories and novels, this news of course distressed me to no end. But now a trailer is out for the movie, and I unfortunately must say that it does nothing to assuage my fears:

Now, don't get me wrong, this movie DOES look good! Very good, as a matter of fact. And even though he's had a few stinkers when he was married to Madonna (hmm, I wonder why?), Guy Ritchie is a really entertaining director. But this is not Sherlock Holmes. Not even close. I mean, you couldn't have gotten any further away from the original character as this movie seems to do. Robert Downey, Jr. is an awesome actor. He fits exactly the comedic tone this film is searching for, it looks like. Problem is, he is NOTHING like the character of Holmes. Nothing. The only thing that comes close is that brief slow-mo shot of him bare-knuckle fist fighting. That's it! The stature's all wrong, the clothes, the smoked glasses, the grizzled cheeks, and -- last and most importanly -- the ACCENT! Good lord!

Jude Law looks somewhat promising as Watson. Problem with that is, of course, that Watson was slightly older than Holmes in the stories (Downey is 7 years older than Law in RL), not to mention shorter and stouter. If anything, the roles should have been reversed; Law for Holmes, and Downey, Jr. as Watson. I think that would have been more interesting and at least a step closer to the source.

Yeah, yeah, I know . . . it's just a movie. Why not have a different take on the characters/stories? Well, my point is that they didn't just tweak a few details here and there. They COMPLETELY and utterly retooled the source! In my opinion, if you're going to go to such great lengths to change the direction and feel of the old Sherlock Holmes stories, why call it Sherlock Holmes at all? Why not some generic, newly-created character who likes throwing out witty one-liners and diving from explosions, huh? You know, like some deranged 18th century version of John McClane.

That's what this movie should be called instead -- Die Hard: White Chapel.

Anyway, that being said, I will check this out. But only because I love all the people involved. Even Rachel McAdams is a welcomed addition to the cast, whom I pretty much like in all the movies I've seen her in. I'll try really hard to forget everything I know about the source material in order to properly enjoy this. But it's going to be real difficult to pull off, I know. Sherlock Holmes played a huge role in my childhood transition between boy and young man when I was 11 - 12 yrs old. I read every single story, plus the novels, and even taught myself how to type by them. I've since read the collected works twice through again, and am gearing up for a third read through sometime within the next two years. I may have an interesting novella or two working in the recesses of my mind regarding this milieu. Sort of a pastiche, really.

Arrggh! So frustrating!


  1. You're right, this is most decidedly NOT Sherlock Holmes. He should have had the guts to do a period detective story of his own without sullying the well established and quite classic Sherlock Holmes. It does look good but it has the wrong fucking title.

  2. It's pretty funny to watch you rant about this, David. I too love the books, but whenever a movie comes out that is "based on a book", I expect the movie to have nothing to do with the book. Because they never do!The only movie I've ever seen that came close to the book it was based on is Gone With the Wind and that only succeeded because it's over 3 hours long.

  3. Usually movies based on books do at least try to get it right. They fall short because it becomes impossible to cram all that a book covers into a neat, 90 minute PG-13 movie frame.

    I have no qualms when a movie is not 100% faithful to a book, just when it is blatantly off. The more the film moves away from the source, the more irate I become. :)

    Take, for instance, the Watchmen movie. Zack Synder tried to make it faithful to the graphic novel, but had to make necessary changes to fit within a modern film version. And the movie was great, imo.

    The latest Wolverine movie, otoh, got some things right, but far more things wrong. This is the type of scenario I can't stand. Where it seems the fillmaker is either being lazy or irreverant to the source.

    Guy Ritchie is definitely not lazy. So it forces me to think that he just doesn't care whether he shits on the original characters much at all.

    And that . . . well, that is bad.

  4. Oh, and the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies are excellent examples of movies that might not be identical to their book counterparts, but are excellent movies nonetheless because it is obvious they resepct the source and want to remain as faitful as possible.

  5. See, to me, LotR and HP are only enjoyable as movies if I think of them as in no way connected to the books. I would rather have something so drastically different that it makes it easy to think that way.

    For example, in the HP movies, they almost completely cut out the relationship between Harry and Sirius. Without that relationship, when Sirius dies, the watcher is just like "Who cares?" And yet because it does follow the books in many respects, it is so much harder to divorce myself in my thinking, so I find myself not enjoying the movies at all.

    The more the movie follows the book, the more glaringly obvious the mistakes (even when purposeful) are. At least IMO.

  6. I see your point. Although, I think Sirius's death was still pretty impactful even without reading the books.

    All this being said, though, I would like to point out that I still plan on watching and enjoying this Sherlock Holmes movie. I won't knock it simply because of the different slant it's taking (although I will make a big stink). :)


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