Cinema Thoughts

Sherlock Holmes

The latest big screen adaptation of the famous London detective is a mixed bag that tries to reinterpret the character as a Victorian-era James Bond.

When the news broke that Guy Ritchie was directing a new big budget film based on Arthur Conan Doyle‘s character, alarm bells began to ring. He broke through in the late 90s as a director of passable cockney gangster films such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000).

But he then he went on to direct two of the most embarrassing disasters of the decade: Swept Away (2002) was a laughable remake of an Italian film with his famous wife in the lead role, whilst Revolver (2005) was an impenetrable gangster drama which involved Jason Statham arguing with himself in a lift and Ray Liotta shouting in his underpants.

After teaming up with producer Joel Silver for the average but not disastrous RockNRolla (2008), he was entrusted with bringing Holmes to the big screen after some eagle-eyed person had spotted the copyright on the famous character was due to expire.

The imaginatively titled Sherlock Holmes is the final result and opts for a different take on the popular perception of Holmes. Gone is the suave, elegant figure that featured in Sidney Paget’s original illustrations or Basil Rathbone’s performances on film.

Instead Ritchie has opted for a less clean cut figure, who even indulges in bare knuckle boxing although they have preserved his penetrating intelligence and wit.

The story sees Holmes (Robert Downey Jnr) and Watson (Jude Law) trying to solve a conspiracy by a secret society (based on the Freemasons) which involves a villainous Lord (Mark Strong) and an old girlfriend (Rachel McAdams).

It plays a little like Holmes rewritten by Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Holmes anyone?) but the screenplay by Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg doesn’t deviate as much from the stories as fans might have feared.

On the plus side, Downey and Law are actually well cast in the leading roles and have a nice chemistry together, even if a little too much innuendo is implied with regards to their relationship.

The film largely rests on Downey who manages to convince and engage as an intelligent action man with a passable British accent, even though his pronunciation at times is a little curious.

Strong makes for a reasonable, if one dimensional villain, although McAdams is badly miscast and Kelly Reilly (as Watson’s love interest) is also given a wafer-thin role that does little justice to her talent as an actress.

Victorian London is recreated with a clever mix of set design and CGI, although there are sequences (especially the climax on Tower Bridge) where it doesn’t fully work and comes across like an overblown computer game.

Another downside is that Ritchie can’t help himself when it comes to his trademark ‘slowing-down and then speeded up’ editing style. This is employed whenever key plot or character points are explained and soon becomes irritating.

The script also has the feel of being re-written several times in order to spell out key plot points.

This doesn’t hide some glaring inconsistencies (including one death sequence that is ludicrous in retrospect) but given that Holmes’ favoured method (imitated by many fictional detectives since such as Poirot and Columbo) is to explain how he solved problems, it probably won’t jar audiences too much.

To be fair, Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes isn’t quite as bad as one might have feared, which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement but indicates that there is a possible franchise ahead for Downey as the pipe smoking detective.


UK Cinema Releases: Saturday 26th December 2009



Sherlock Holmes (Warner Bros.): After the copyright expired on the famous detective, Hollywood studios scrambled to make a big screen adaptation and this version sees Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his stalwart partner Watson (Jude Law) engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis (Mark Strong) whose has a fiendish plot.

Although the words ‘directed by Guy Ritchie’ can strike fear into the heart of any self-respecting film lover, box office prospects for this look pretty good, despite competition from Avatar and mixed reviews. [Nationwide / 12A]

Nowhere Boy (Icon): The feature film debut of artist Sam Taylor Wood explores the teenage years of John Lennon (Aaron Johnson) and how they laid the groundwork for his future career as one of The Beatles.

Although by no means flawless, the film does a good job of laying out the drama in Lennon’s early life and Johnson does a decent job filling the daunting shoes of Lennon. Supporting performances (especially Kristin Scott-Thomas and Anne Marie-Duff) are very good and the period detail is nicely evoked. [Nationwide / 15]

Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakuel (20th Century Fox): The sequel to the 2007 live-action/CGI comedy and featurs the voices of Zachary LeviDavid CrossWendie Malick, and Jason Lee. This film features Alvin and the Chipmunks and their female counterparts, The Chipettes.

Directed by Betty Thomas, it should take a healthy bite out of the Christmas box office as it was released a few days ago and is one of the most family friendly films on release. [Nationwide / PG]



My Father My Lord (Artificial Eye): A belated UK release for this 2007 Israeli film about a rabbi, his wife and their child. Directed by David Volach, it stars Nitsam Bar, Assi Dayan and IIan Griff. [Renoir & selected Key Cities / PG]

The Queen Of Spades (Optimum Releasing/ICO): A digital reissue for this classic supernatural drama directed by Thorold Dickinson (best known for directing Gaslight). Not seen in British cinemas since its original release in 1949, it is a theatrical taster for its release on DVD in the new year. [Curzon Mayfair, Phoenix East Finchley & Key Cities / PG]

Dogging: A Love Story (Vertigo Films): A British drama about Geordies having anonymous sex in car parks. Directed by Simon Ellis, it stars Luke Treadaway and Kate Heppell.  [Key Cities / 18]

3 Idiots (Reliance MediaWorks): An Indian Bollywood film directed by Rajkumar Hirani, starring Aamir KhanR. MadhavanSharman JoshiKareena Kapoor, and Boman Irani. Intriguingly it will also get released on YouTube three months after its theatrical release. [Cineworlds Feltham, Shaftesbury Ave, Vue G / 12A]

Get local cinema showtimes for your area via Google Movies
UK cinema releases for December 2009
UK DVD & Blu-ray picks for 2009


UK Cinema Releases: December 2009

UK Cinema Releases December 2009


  • The Box (12A)/ Icon
  • Cracks (15) / Optimum Releasing
  • Me and Orson Welles (12A) / CinemaNX Distribution
  • The Descent: Part 2 (18) / Warner Bros/Pathe
  • The Girlfriend Experience (15) / Revolver
  • The Merry Gentleman (15) / The Works
  • Planet 51 (U) / Entertainment


  • Carriers (15) / Paramount
  • The Red Shoes (R/I) / Park Circus / Selected Key Cities
  • The Step Father (15) / Sony Pictures
  • Unmade Beds (15) / Soda Pictures
  • Where The Wild Things Are (PG) / Warner Bros.


  • Avatar / 20th Century Fox
  • St. Trinians 2 / Entertainment
  • Nine (Entertainment)


  • Alvin And The Chipmunks 2 / Fox


  • Dogging: A Love Story / Vertigo Films
  • Nowhere Boy / Icon


  • Sherlock Holmes / Warner Bros.

Get local showtimes via Google Movies (just enter your postcode)
Find out about films showing near you at MyFilms


Trailer: Sherlock Holmes

This is the trailer for the new Sherlock Holmes film with Robert Downey, Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson.

Directed by Guy Ritchie , it will be released on December 25th in the US and Boxing Day in the UK.

> Sherlock Holmes official site
> Photos of Robert Downey Jr as Holmes

Images In Production

Robert Downey Jnr as Sherlock Holmes

Robert Downey Jr is currently in London filming the new Sherlock Holmes movie, which is being directed by Guy Ritchie

Just Jared have posted some photos of Downey and Ritchie shooting some scenes outside of St Paul’s Cathedral.

 There will be three months of shooting in London, including locations such as Freemasons’ Hall before moving to Liverpool.

Check out some more photos at Just Jared and a black and white shot from Flickr user stryker66.

Sherlock Holmes at the IMDb
> Robert Downey Jnr and Guy Ritchie at Wikipedia
> Find out more about Arthur Conan Doyle and the character of Sherlock Holmes at Wikipedia