Holmes, Holmes on the range

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson
Sherlock Holmes movie poster

Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, is one of the recent crop of sexed up literary classics such as The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Tim Burton’s upcoming Alice in Wonderland. This movie is surely conceived for the current generation, with its slow-motion flashbacks accompanied by a narration of how-it-works; you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a new CSI: Ye Olde England.

Director Guy Ritchie has delivered us a quick-thinking, fast-talking, and hard-hitting Holmes. Without having actually read the books, I’d hazard a guess that they’ve made a valiant effort to retain the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, but have sadly taken the liberty of emphasising the characters’ physical prowess as much as their intellectual capabilities. Regardless, Holmes solves mysteries by being a superlative detective, with or without biffo, and I found the movie to be agreeable, with Downey Jr. an inoffensive Holmes, and Jude Law playing the affable but beleaguered Watson perfectly.

However, there were two things that really, truly irked me in Sherlock Holmes, although they weren’t problems with the movie, per se:

1. The blatant declaration of franchise
It seems that a Hollywood movie wont’ be bankrolled these days unless it’s a sequel, or could potentially spawn sequels. When was the last time you saw a movie whose title doesn’t contain a numeral (deliberate attempts to avoid this, such as The Dark Knight notwithstanding)? Sherlock Holmes brings this to a new low, by incorporating Holmes’ arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty into the plot right from the get-go, but not resolving that particular part of the storyline.

2. It’s all about America
In the middle of the movie, the film’s antagonist Lord Blackwood delivers his monologue about the fruits of his nefarious plan, about how the “new colonies” are weak from civil war, how their government is just as crappy as the British one, and how by taking over both he will rule the world. It’s as if everything that happens up until then doesn’t matter, but once their precious country is threatened, that’s the moment when the penny drops and the duh-merican thinks to themselves “hoo boy, that’s why his ass needs a-whuppin’!”

Why is it that America is always depicted as “the world”? It’s as if the average citizen can’t fathom how a foreign person could conceivably do significant evil to the world if it’s not a threat to the U.S. of A. Take Quentin Taratino’s Inglourious Basterds – they even had to insinuate themselves into history of Nazi Germany. Sadly, I’m sure that if pressed, they would just retort that America makes movies for America, and if you don’t like it go and make your own… except that they ripped off Sherlock Holmes from the British. Oh well, I’m sure the irony is lost on Hollywood. At least they have the decency to make their movies entertaining, unlike Australian ones.

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