Sherlock Holmes? Read The Adventures For Free

If you haven’t seen Sherlock Holmes, don’t bother.  Read the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories for free on Project Gutenberg, and wait until the movie comes to your local cable company.   Call me a purist, but I prefer the clean and precise prose of the original stories to the rapid fire quips the characters launch at one another throughout the movie.   The odd rapport between Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) made me feel like I was watching an episode of House.  Hugh Laurie by the way would have been a better choice to play Holmes – the British actor’s accent surely would have been more convincing.  House insults his colleagues incessantly, like Holmes, and they him. In fact, Holmes is said to be the inspiration for the brilliant, drug addicted House.  Holmes was known to have an affinity for cocaine, but Robert Downey, Jr. portrays the character as a slightly deranged, but mostly sober sleuth.  Unless I fell asleep during some parts of the movie, which could have happened while taking a break from my five gallon tub of buttered and heavily salted popcorn, I don’t recall any reference to cocaine, opium or absynthe.  Holmes seems more addicted to Watson’s company.  The high maintenance Holmes needs constant attention and companionship, unlike Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes who is more detached and anti-social.   Guy Ritchie’s manic-depressive Holmes is a frustrated comic at heart who half-heartedly solves the Crime of the Century, incidentally one of my favorite albums by the British group, Supertramp. Robert Downey, Jr. even won a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy for his portrayal of Holmes.   Sherlock Holmes, the movie – a comedy? Sherlock Holmes, a comedian? That’s just wrong!

In the Sherlock Holmes stories I’ve read, and I have not read them all, Watson is in awe of Holmes’ deductive powers and admires his intellect, like a graduate assistant to an acclaimed professor.  In the movie, there’s is no awe – they interact as fraternity brothers, more or less on equal terms.  Holmes insults Watson.  Watson acts mildly annoyed most of the time and plays the role of the armed sidekick.  Both versed in the martial arts, Watson is  more the head butting rugby player brute , while Holmes plays the crafty featherweight boxer who punches to disarm, stun and disable enemies twice his size.  He is also a master of disguise and I would have liked this aspect of his detective arsenal to have been featured more.

And what’s the deal with Holmes and Irene Adler?  There was no romantic chemistry between them whatsoever as intended.   On the other hand, from a strict reading of the only story in which she appears in the literature, “A Scandal in Bohemia”, there is not even a trace of romance in the air.   And speaking of artistic license, Lord Blackwood, the main villain in the movie, is a complete fabrication, while Holmes main nemesis, Professor Moriarty plays a bit role.   And as a fabrication, Lord Blackwood is not even very original; too close to J.K. Rowling’s Lord Voldermort if you ask me.

Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack was the star of the movie.  His score brilliantly evoked 19th century London and the mind of the disturbed, eccentric detective.  Buy the soundtrack.  Skip the movie.  It’ll be on TV soon enough, in HD probably. Save your money for a bag of Orville Redenbacher.