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December 22, 2009

"Sherlock Holmes"

Chris Miksanek - The Med City Movie Guy -- 'Sherlock Holmes' starring Jude Law and Robert Downey JrIn the new thriller, Sherlock Holmes, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law bring the famed sleuth and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, to the big screen for the first time in decades. Timed to its release was a statement from the Minnesota Department of Revenue cautioning taxpayers, “should this film inspire any of you to claim 'brilliant deductions' of your own, we are standing-by to disallow them.”
    When criminal mastermind Lord Henry Blackwood (English actor Mark Strong) seemingly rises from the dead after an execution Watson certifies, Holmes is back in action. Three will be killed, Blackwood warns, and the detective is powerless to stop it.
    The murders are all part of Blackwood’s plot to wrest power from an occultish secret society called “The Temple of the Four Orders.” The group, comprised of several civic leaders, ostensibly plans to reclaim control of the “colonies” from their corrupt government (presumably Benjamin Harrison and the so-called “Billion Dollar Congress”). But if Blackwood’s criminal prowess is genuine sorcery or just a nefarious technological breakthrough, only Holmes can say ... and only Holmes can stop.
    Director Guy Ritchie (whose credits include Snatch, RocknRolla, and a small role as Madonna’s second husband) had his work cut out for him. Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective hadn’t been on the big screen since the mid-forties iconic Basil Rathbone series, yet Ritchie’s dark and grainy nineteenth-century London succeeded as a reminiscent and refreshing retelling that could have easily been ruined.
    Though only based on Conan Doyle’s characters, “Sherlock Holmes” is engaging, even if it unfolds slowly and is at times confusing with its murmured dialog and irritating flash-forwards.
    The casting is another matter.
    Robert Downey Jr. -- the consummate method actor outstanding in films like Tropic Thunder and Iron Man -- resurrected the accent he developed for the largely overlooked 1992 biopic, Chaplin, to introduce the ever-observant, clinically pedantic Scotland Yard consultant to yet another generation.
    Brilliant as he is, Downey can’t carry the film himself, or rather, he can’t carry his supporting actors. Jude Law’s Dr. Watson is largely superfluous, Holmes’ rival Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) is never particularly formidable, and Strong’s Lord Blackwood is a cliché baddie.
    Still, fans of 221B Baker Street’s most famous resident get a wisp of satisfaction when the mysterious hand of famed adversary Professor Moriarty extends from a dark carriage.
    But what does it mean?
    Elementary, my dear moviegoer, it means a sequel is already in the works.

2 1/2 Honks
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material including violence, disturbing images and a scene of suggestive material.

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It is quite good movie. One for this modern age of non-thinking action-packed blockbuster movies.

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