So, while everyone is speaking about the new Sherlock Holmes movie that recently came out, I’d like to take a moment and remember one of the best versions of Sherlock Holmes, on small and big screens, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes starring Jeremy Brett.
The series ran for a short period of time during the 1980s. Brett arguably filled the role of the brilliant detective that seemed to satisfy even the most hardcore Holmes fans. Unlike the recent movie with Robert Downey, Jr, Holmes is not supposed to be a sexy action star, but a hands on scientist who sees a world of information in the smallest detail. The series in its excellence was not limited to the selection of Brett as Holmes, we had David Burke as Dr. Watson and my favorite version of the long suffering Mrs. Hudson played by Rosa Williamson. The series would spend one hour (maybe two) on most of the Holmes cases, including the most interesting to me, The Final Problem (the death that Sir Conan Doyle wrote for Holmes and his nemesis Dr. Moriarity.)
The new movie, Sherlock Holmes, has some good points, including a fine portrayal of Dr. Watson by Jude Law. His version of Watson is the one I wanted to see on screen, and though Brett’s TV series did not make Watson an absent minded imbecile, I still think the character could have improved upon. People don’t realize that Watson was in the army, he was a distinguished and reputable doctor and deserved some respect from Hollywood who liked to use Holmes partner as a comic timing device. It isn’t fair to Watson, and honestly it’s not fair to Holmes either who would never have put up with anyone that would be considered stupid in general.
I don’t like to post a review so much on a movie right after I’ve seen it; my initial reaction to the picture has more to do with the energy one experiences in a movie. And this movie had many loose ends it needed to tie up, which it did, but basically all at once in what I can state felt like a blast of a shot gun pattern so walking away immediately I was left to try to digest everything so fast. I’m told this is more of a Guy Ritchie (the director) tactic and while it might work for other movies, it didn’t suit Sherlock Holmes. Yes Holmes will sometimes keep his inner knowledge to himself about certain clues he comes across, but I’ve never seen it take this long for him to reveal or more important, this many “clues” being revealed all at once. It felt like an afterthought from the writers, like they were getting ready to roll the closing credits, and then remembered they had to explain how Holmes arrived at his conclusions and shoe horned some in the only two places at the end where it would go.
My other issue with the movie is in Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler. Or maybe, it’s just the fact that Adler had to be in this movie at all. I know there is much hoopla of the bromance between Holmes and Watson. If I’m going to roll my eyes at this relationship and how contrived it is, I have to roll my eyes at the romance with Holmes and Adler. First, McAdams is way too young to be Adler. She’s already described in A Scandal in Bohemia as a woman who’s already had quite a past, and we presume some years have passed since that case. Second, Adler was no more in love with Holmes than he was with her. I think what is interesting about the couple is both really underestimated each other in their initial meeting. For Adler to underestimate Holmes is not so notable, part of the fun of Holmes is how he is able to use what seems like an unassuming gift to capture some of the world’s most evil minds. But Holmes being fooled by her is quite extraordinary. It doesn’t happen very often and certainly not by a woman. Holmes did keep Adler’s photograph but I believe he had it tossed in some drawer, not kept out in the open to see everyday. Holmes was too much of an egotist to want to be reminded of any failure.
But overall I did enjoy the movie. If I let my two issues above go, it’s fun to watch and I really think most of the public will be unaware of any problems in the story not reflecting the canon. (I have no problems with alternate versions or remakes of my favorites, but I do not care that these new versions will interpret the characters outside their original personalities such as any romance with Holmes would). I didn’t get into the portrayal of Robert Downey, Jr as Holmes because he will always fall short to the great and late Jeremy Brett. I especially liked the slow down of action to help explain why Holmes was so adept at fighting his opponents. That’s all I can really say without giving away spoilers. What did everyone else think?