NY Times HOLMES Delivery

     January 24, 2009

Written by Matt Goldberg

The New York Times recently published a preview of Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes”. While I was previously excited for this film, especially with the casting of Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, and Mark Strong, after reading this article, I am now filled with a sense of dread.

I could deal with stuff like Holmes being a bare-knuckled brawler or ditching the deerskin cap. That’s just aesthetic and I don’t mind seeing Holmes revitialized with a new energy and style—hell, that’s why you bring in someone like Guy Ritchie to direct a “Sherlock Holmes” movie. But reading what producer Lionel Wigram has to say about the story, I start feeling uneasy.

“And so for the big mainstream audiences these days, I knew we would have to come up with something where the stakes were bigger and that had a big fantasy element,” says Wigram.

“A big fantasy element?” Such as? As he is led to the gallows, Lord Blackwood (Strong) pledges to come back from the dead and continue his evil ways. He does just that, and the rest of the movie follows Holmes and Watson as they try to foil his plot.

My problem with that is if there really is “magic” and “fantasy” in this world, then what good is Holmes deductive reasoning? Magic and fantasy don’t have to follow the rules of logic or human behavior. Not to mention, very little is mentioned about any of Holmes’ detective skills. We know he can fight, swordfight, and score with the ladies, but does he actually solve crimes?

Basically, the sense I got from the article is that this is Holmes-in-name-only. It’s just using the Holmes brand name to sell a little mystery story set in a certain time and place. I hope I’m wrong.

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