Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sherlock Holmes Goes To Fight Club

Being an long-time fan of the rude, irreverent, intelligent, and egotistical sleuth, I regarded the new Sherlock Holmes film with much anticipation. Along with many other people who had time on their hands yesterday, Christmas Day, the opening day for the new Sherlock Holmes movie, I was able to take my family to see the new film.

While not necessarily less smart than Conan Doyle’s hero, this one spends more time fighting and making assumptions than our original crime-fighting genius. He seems more interested in theory and action than fact and hypothesis.

Instead of destroying his mind and body with a seven percent solution of heroin, our new Robert Downey, Jr.’s Holmes goes to fight club and wagers on himself for Watson. He now has the capability to clearly see the cause and effect of certain fighting moves and strikes, then carries them out with surgical precision.

This Holmes regards his ‘friend’ Watson almost with contempt. And this Holmes comes with the baggage of a past relationship with a woman that is just as apt to react swiftly and violently as the new Holmes, and she has an even more checkered past.

Watson is also changed. In the past, Watson was portrayed as well intentioned but inept, recognizing Holmes’ faults, but at the same time deifying him. This Watson comes across as intelligent and egotistical, less respectful of Holmes, and even derisive of Holmes, whom he claims to be just that: egotistical. In fact, this new Watson reminds me more of portrayals of Holmes by Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett.

The saving grace of the film is that Sherlock Holmes will now be introduced to a new generation, and with that comes the hope that new viewers may want to watch classic portrayals of Sherlock Holmes, or better yet, read the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels.

This is what happens when American screenwriters get hold of Sherlock Holmes.

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