Thursday, 31 December 2009

The Game's Afoot.

Sherlock Holmes, the new Hollywood blockbuster, is out in theaters everywhere.

I'm a fan of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Mysteries, and now have to deal with the movie.

I have read two reviews of the film. The first says, essentially: "I have never read a Sherlock Holmes story. I loved this film! A fantastic thrill ride!"

The second review, in so many words, spelled it out like this: "I have read each and every Sherlock Holmes Story. I want to vomit."

Now obviously, I am paraphrasing, but the emotion evoked in the fans is clear.

Sherlock Holmes is one of  those charters. It's a classic obviously, and a classic book was once called "A book that everybody knows well, but nobody has actually read."

I have read them all, and while, admittedly, I haven't seen the film, everything I know about it screams for me to stay away.

In the trailers, I see massive explosions, a supernatural plot involving a villain returning from the dead, an Irish-styled Victorian Era Fight Club, an actual love interest; and Watson chiding Holmes for his endless depravity.

#Clears throat, steps up on soapbox.#

All of these things suggest to me that they're trying to replace Sherlock Holmes with James Bond.

Sherlock Holmes solved his cases with deduction and cunning. He was not a fighter, he was an investigator. He unravelled lies and plot twists, conducted interviews and did some light fieldwork. He was analytical, reserved, discreet and self-controlled. He did not kick in doors and dive out of fifth story windows.

When you have a character that is known, even loved, to the point where just saying the words "Sherlock Holmes" conjures images of a certain style and way of doing things, you can't stray too far from it. not without completely ignoring the things that made that character a mythos, a part of the culture, and a force in history, if only from the pages of fiction novels.

It's not the first time it's happened. There are Sherlock computer games that have him tracking down Jack The Ripper, and there are Homes movies/tv shows that I really did not enjoy. A Holmes-ian mystery is very very tricky. It takes lateral thinking and imagination to solve, but always has you reading the last page and thinking: "Now, why didn't I see that?!"

This movie, from what I have seen and what I have read, is the anthesis of that.

I love Robert Downey Jr. I doubt he could play a bad role. But he's going to be limited in what he's given here. I also see Jude Law as Watson. I believe he could pull that off nicely. The Victorian Era has a certain appeal for me, I've always liked the 1800's london as a set piece.

But I have no interest in going to see this movie. I'm on a budget, I don't intend to spend my money on movies that don't interest me, only out of loyalty to a character I love but bears no resemblance to what I'm looking at.

But what really annoys me is the certain knowledge that this movie will probably make an unthinkable fortune, and when it comes out on DVD, I'll probably watch it then anyway.

If you are interested, then go see it. If you don't mind an action flick as a way to spend an afternoon, enjoy it. If you don't object for any of the reasons that i do, then i hope you enjoy every moment of your movie-going experience, but this is not the Sherlock Holmes I have playing in my head when I read the original stories.

There seem to be no new ideas in Hollywood. But at least they could try to get the old ones right.

Sherlock Holmes is Not James Bond. Here endeth the lesson.