Sherlock Holmes (2010)

First of all, those who know me know that I regularly promise more social media output than I can actually deliver. However, with the Computers and Writing 2010 conference over, I can now return to idle pursuits.

This one is kind of a cheat, since I saw Sherlock Holmes (2009) on the big screen when it came out, but I just recently Redboxed it on a whim (and because my wife is obsessed with all things Robert Downey Jr.). I was reasonably pleased on my first viewing, but Oh, how I found the opportunity to sour…

Let me start with my hatred for detective pieces. Usually, to the attentive reader/listener/viewer, the case is solved in the first or second act, or at least the most likely suspect is identified, and then, in increasingly common instances, replaced by the second or third least likely villain in the final act. Most of the time, I turn off any brain functions that try to puzzle out the story in an attempt to actually enjoy something in my life without analyzing it to the grave. I do this frequently with music, although some inane tripe is beyond any effort.

Few people know that Edgar Allan Poe popularized or (perhaps, and this is a big perhaps) invented detective fiction for U.S. audiences, an example being “Murders in the Rue Morgue” which you can watch, if you love stupid television movies and men in ape suits: repeat…stupid.

However, serialized accounts of grizzly murders were commonplace prior to Poe, in the form of “penny dreadfuls”: lightly fictionalized accounts of actual crimes (and the subsequent investigations) written for young men who could scarcely afford the asking price, introduced to me by Dr. Cameron at DePaul (who rocks–no website available).

By the time of Sir A. C. Dizzoyle (as I like to call him), public demand for tales of maniacal, outcast urban knife wielders/poisoners/pistol-dischargers was at a peak. The rising problem of urban migration, poverty-related crime, and “moral corruption problems” of the late Victorian era (fin de siecle for snobs)/early 20th century also called for a super detective of sorts who could maintain the social reformation spirit and enhance the perception that a vigilante intellectual could, if not protect people, hold the killer who shot you in the back responsible via burgeoning forensic evidence, and send that asshole to the gallows.

Then we get Sherlock Holmes (2009), which automatically elicits memories of Wild Wild West (tWWW) for me. The problem with period action pieces, in my uneducated and unsupported Andy Rooney style opinion, is that jamming a bunch of futuristic technology (SPOILER ALERT) like chemical weapons and remote control devices into a movie provides a popcorn-kernel-under-the-gum type distraction for those of us trying to deactivate the critical lobe of the brain: you can’t stop thinking about it and trying to resolve it despite your best efforts. I would give an example from tWWW, but I long ago underwent an experimental procedure to remove any memory of that god awful movie from my brain, along with Godzilla (1998).

Apart from the foolishness of anachronistic technology, the film is actually enjoyable. Downey Jr., as an aging action hero, need not pull a Sean Connery, Harrison Ford, or Danny Glover move (“I’m too old for this shit”) until his glistening, ripped body is no longer able to be supported by CGI and makeup effects. British accents: on a scale of believable cockney to me saying “fish un chips, govenaahhhhh” are actually somewhat believable. Rachel McAdams sounds stupid, but that has nothing to do with accents: this is just her normal delivery. Watson comes across a little to un-emasculated, but I doubt Jude Law, nor his audiences, would appreciate him as a bookwormish recorder of deeds. He turns out to be a still potent Crimean War (?) veteran who can shoot shit up and sword fight.

I enjoyed the plot, despite it’s predictability and sequel set up. I have to say, I don’t really mind the sequel setup when I may possibly enjoy the sequel. Despite critical semi-love and my neurotic deconstruction of the detective genre, I have to say that this film is a:

7/10 Tasty when deep fried and served with a lemon wedge and tartar sauce

Up Next Week: A YouTube available movie (or two), “The Taming of The Shrew” by Mr. Shakespeare, and possibly Crime and Punishment if I can get through it by then…