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"Sherlock Holmes" in 30 seconds - Baxil [bakh-HEEL'], n. My Sites [Tomorrowlands] [The TTU Wiki] [Photos]
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December 27th, 2009
06:46 pm
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"Sherlock Holmes" in 30 seconds
Robert Downey Jr.: Hey Watson, check me out. I'm House!
Jude Law: No you're not.
Robert Downey Jr.: I totally am. I'm an irascible slovenly guy that mistreats his closest friends. I even gave myself his five-o'clock-shadow beard and rumpled hair.
Jude Law: Stop that. Hugh Laurie is House. You're Sherlock Holmes.
Robert Downey Jr.: Okay okay okay. Fine. I'll find another shtick.
Jude Law: You don't need a shtick. You're Sherlock Holmes.
Robert Downey Jr.: Wait, I've got it. Watson, check me out. I'm Batman!
Jude Law: *sigh*
Robert Downey Jr.: Master of disguise! Best bare-knuckled fighter in the world! Singlehandedly defeating crazy occult supervillains with my superpowers of kicking ass! And being smart.
Jude Law: Christian Bale is Batman. You're Iron Man -- I mean, Sherlock Holmes.
Robert Downey Jr.: No, I'm serious, I'm totally the mutherf--king Batman.
Jude Law: This movie is set in Victorian England. You are not the Batman.
Robert Downey Jr.: Three words. "Gotham By Gaslight."
Jude Law: *sigh* Just play your role already, Holmes.
Robert Downey Jr.: I am!
Jude Law: Your Sherlock Holmes role. You are Sherlock Holmes.
Robert Downey Jr.: *mumble* You should talk, Mr. Taller-And-Skinnier-Than-Me. "Oh, look at me, I'm Dr. Watson, I have perfect vision and I never got shot in Afghanistan --"
Jude Law: What's that? I didn't quite hear you over the sound of the giant explosions.
Robert Downey Jr.: Oh, nothing, nothing.

... So, yeah, meh. kadyg liked it -- or at least wants to see it again from not in the very front corner of the theater. Me? Something about the way that they cherrypicked the source material and booted everything that they didn't like just hit me like a slap in the face. (All set to the strains of annoying plinky plunky music that sounded like it wanted to be ragtime.)

It was an action movie. You can't turn Sherlock Holmes into an action movie!

Or, well, maybe you can. Rotten Tomatoes is currently giving it a 69%, so the public seems to think the film's getting more right than wrong. Personally, let's call it a C-; I want to call it a D+ but I think part of that opinion is due to poor theater placement.

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From:lupagreenwolf
Date:December 28th, 2009 02:52 am (UTC)
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*snerkgiggle*
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From:kevynjacobs
Date:December 28th, 2009 03:35 am (UTC)
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Haven't seen it, will wait until home release. In addition to the implausible attempt to turn Holmes into an action hero, I have to nitpick... couldn't they have found a British actor to play a character as undeniably British as Holmes?
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From:kshandra
Date:December 28th, 2009 04:28 am (UTC)
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I found nothing overtly objectionable about RDJ's accent; indeed, I don't recall having noticed the presence or absence thereof during the film - and considering the number of times Jude Law has played Americans, I was actually somewhat amused by the symmetry.
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From:xiphias
Date:December 28th, 2009 01:43 pm (UTC)
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Why is it implausable to turn Holmes into an action hero? He IS one in the books.
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From:baxil
Date:December 28th, 2009 09:26 pm (UTC)
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Yesbut. Book-Holmes was a good bare-knuckled fighter, fell off Reichenbach Falls and lived, etc., but virtually all of the action in the books was offscreen. And I don't recall book-Holmes (spoiler!) dashing through any explosions or rescuing ladies from meat rendering saws or dodging giant boats being hurtled down a ramp at him.

It's not so much a question of plausibility as it is a question of tone. I had a hard time seeing Sherlock Holmes turned into a penny dreadful.

Edited at 2009-12-28 09:28 pm (UTC)
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From:xiphias
Date:December 28th, 2009 10:27 pm (UTC)
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But that's because READING about a boxing match or all of the other things in the spoiler text would be boring. They're visual things. So in a visual medium, you put them onscreen. In a text medium, you put them offscreen. It's still the same character.
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From:baxil
Date:December 28th, 2009 10:48 pm (UTC)
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> But that's because READING about a boxing match or all of the other things in the spoiler text would be boring.

No offense, because I like you and respect you, but I offer as counterpoint: The entire history of literature* ever.

--
* And roleplaying. Especially roleplaying.
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From:kadyg
Date:December 29th, 2009 01:42 am (UTC)
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I thought RDJ was perfectly fine and he has the right sort of "lived in" look for the character. And having seen him play Charlie Chaplin, I will never doubt his ability to carry a British accent.
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From:kshandra
Date:December 28th, 2009 04:34 am (UTC)
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kadyg liked it -- or at least wants to see it again from not in the very front corner of the theater.

s/"very front corner"/"third row center" and you have my experience in a nutshell; I was at enough of an awkward angle (I'm very much a center-of-the-house girl) to not be able to take in the entire screen as I would have liked. I was quite pleased to see that RDJ-as-Holmes was not simply RDJ-as-Tony-Stark-with-an-accent; they were two distinct eccentric geniuses.
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From:kadyg
Date:December 28th, 2009 08:20 am (UTC)
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We ended up in the last two open side-by-side seats in the whole place: front row faaaaaaaaaar right. I actually think we were sitting slightly behind the speakers.

I'm not usually a seating snob, but that totally sucked.
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From:baxil
Date:December 28th, 2009 09:33 pm (UTC)
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I almost wish that I had any desire to see the movie again, because one of the things that frustrated me was that I felt like I was missing a lot of the dialogue (I was able to follow the story pretty easily but not many of the lines that got audience laughter). And it was hard to track the combatants during the many, many fight scenes (though some of that was also the gray, faded tone of the movie colors and the dramatic scene lighting). Theater position was a big factor in both of those. If you go back, let me know how much it improves with seating.
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From:krinndnz
Date:December 28th, 2009 04:55 am (UTC)
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There was an excellent Adbusters bit a while back with Sherlock Holmes sinking into despair because his skillset had become obsolete because of globalization. I ought to try to find it again.
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From:baxil
Date:December 28th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)
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I'd be curious to see that. I don't know that it's globalization killing the Holmesian skills so much as it is the instant, everpresent access to the world's largest information repository.
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From:pathia
Date:December 28th, 2009 06:51 am (UTC)
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Errr, how can you say they're copying House, when House is an *intentional* copying of Holmes?
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From:balinares
Date:December 28th, 2009 09:22 am (UTC)
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Well, Holmes should arguably be a lot better than House at being Holmes. :D
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From:baxil
Date:December 28th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
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There are elements of House that copy Holmes (detective, chemist, eccentric, obsessed with his mysteries, etc). But there are also elements of House that are very much specific to House: he's irascible, downright abusive to his helpers, full of snarky wisecracks, borderline sociopathic (though admittedly in an oddly endearing way) ... it felt to me like the script was trying to do that in an attempt to give Holmes more of a bad-boy image, and for me that really fell flat.

(YMMV. I am not fond of House-the-character, and as such, while I appreciate the good writing and the entertaining mysteries of the show, I can take it or leave it.)
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From:pathia
Date:December 28th, 2009 09:52 pm (UTC)
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It's more than a slight homage, the character that shot him and ended up in bed right next to him in one of the finale's was named MORIARTY for pete's sake XD
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From:hafoc
Date:December 28th, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)
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I doubt I'll go see this movie. Partly because I don't go see movies, because (insert canned rant about how bad only local movie theater is and ads and chattering teenagers on cell phones through whole thing) rather have (painful procedure involving genitals and a plastic fork).

But another reason is that my heart sank when I heard them talking about re-imagining Holmes, or whatever the word is.

Granted the Holmes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories was not the stereotypical movie Holmes. The whole deerstalker hat and cape and curved pipe personna is the invention of an early stage Holmes; the curved pipe in particular was because that was less of an impediment to declaiming lines than a straight pipe was. Granted too that Holmes was more of an action hero than is usually given; an expert in several modes of combat, including the "single stick," whatever that is, if I remember correctly. If you want to see Holmes as Doyle wrote him, you might want to try the Jeremy Brett television series rather than any of the movie versions. I found that TV series pretty close to the original.

No, I'm not put off that they want to do Holmes differently than he is usually done in the movies. It is this: Given that Sherlock Holmes is one of the best, most fascinating, and most popular literary characters ever invented, what's wrong with doing him as he is? Do they really think their hack scriptwriters can create a Holmes who is better than the real Holmes?
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 8th, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)
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Here's another problem with expert bias: experts tend to expect complexity where there is none to be found. I.e, they lack "beginner's eyes".

The Sherlock Holmes flick is not intended to be any particularly witty or sophisticate re-imagining of the original stories. It's disposable entertainment predicated on an amusing gimmick that was pitched to the studio: hey guys! Let's make Sherlock Holmes a rowdy, down and dirty brawler who *snigger* is a disgrace in the face of any dignified Englishman! Plus there will be explosions. HUGE. With slo-mo."

In point of fact, given the film's shallow origins, there's a bit of thought put in to adapting the "off-page" attributes of Holmes' background. And somebody thought to play up the angle that, with contemporary knowledge of what "savants" and Aspergers geeks are actually like, Sherlock Holmes' genius might make him a social cripple. And he is; the most interesting aspect of this flick's take on Holmes is that his mind is also his weakness, and he can't get on with normal people very well.

Otherwise, there's nothing more to this. On the whole, given the track record of such disposable films, this one is actually fairly entertaining and witty, though ultimately lacking in meat. It's not something you keep thinking about once you leave the theater.

As for a viewer feeling insulted that Sherlock Holmes is being used in this manner, one must step back and look at things from the perspective of needs. Is the public really starving for a treatment of the literary Holmes squeezed into the space of a 2 hour big screen film? Would such a tiny bite of Holmes even really be worthwhile? At the moment in pop culture, a "serious" treatment* of Holmes would be best suited to a long-form television series. It would be a waste anyway to throw it up as a one-shot deal on the movie screen.


*serious, here, primarily means a literal interpretation of source material. Which would satisfy, at least, the literary buffs and geeks who can't bear to see their idea of values of a piece of fiction put aside to emphasis other elements. One recalls a rant by an overly anal fan of the fantasy novel Wicked, who raged about the musical version betraying the sophisticated political commentary of the novel. The positive qualities of the musical adaptation - which was more about the journey of the main characters than the politics of Oz - were irrelevant measured against the particular theme in the novel that the commentator had fixated on as being the only valid interpretation of the story.

Nevermind the fact that he was too much of a numbskull to accept that perhaps the novel had its own flaws, which the musical in turn patched over to deliver a more entertaining story.
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