With Sherlock Holmes about to hit Bluray in the US (following in the UK sometime in May), now is the perfect time to revisit the reimagining of Baker Street’s finest.
Robert Downey Jr has been flying high since he blasted back onto screens as Iron Man where he excelled as wealthy 21st century James Bond-esque playboy Tony Stark so it seemed only fitting that he would have a stab at a 19thcentury version in the guise of Sherlock Holmes.
We all know that Downey Jr can excel in all things decidedly English and Victorian-esque with his fantastic turn as Charlie Chaplin in the Richard Attenborough biopic. The sets and costumes are sumptuous and the film can only be described as looking two thirds From Hell and one third Harry Potter. There are perhaps those who might be a tad nervous seeing that this film is from Guy Ritchie but thankfully with Madonna out of his system he seems to be back on form with some truly lovely visuals that we haven’t really seen since we first got excited about him with Lock, Stock.
The story centres around the dark arts and Lord Blackwood, Stardust villain Mark Strong in another fine bad guy turn, who is thwarted by Holmes and Watson in their final case together. He is hanged but seemingly appears back from the dead to wreak revenge and change across the British Empire. Its dark themes echo some of those featured in an earlier Holmes incarnation, Young Sherlock Holmes and the Pyramid of Fear, which also featured some wonderfully dark undertones.
The movie is fairly breathless in its editing and pacing but lingers long enough for us to enjoy the characters, their dialogue and the lovingly recreated locations, including a part completed Tower Bridge. It is lovingly created throughout, with a memorably fun score by Hans Zimmer, and canters along like a proper boys own adventure in the same zest, style and fun as Michael Crichton’s The First Great Train Robbery did back in the late 70s. In fact you could almost have seen Dustin Hoffman taking on the part of Holmes if it had been made during that period.
The films greatest assets though are their leads and both Downey Jr and a surprisingly watchable Jude Law really relish in their roles and make you really believe they are the sleuthing duo. Much of the dialogue is fantastically crisp with the pair zinging off each other in the same lovingly jolly romp manner as Newman and Redford did as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And that is the great thing about this film, its Da Vinci Code style plot of murders and people in high places is fun and engaging but we’d follow this pair anywhere and with the film neatly setting up its follow up potential in an enticing way.
One can only hope the sequel is afoot as this has to be one of the most unabashedly entertaining films of the year and somehow just feels the perfect post-Christmas film.